* Posts by Northumbrian

55 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Nov 2009


Did Donald Trump really just ask Russia to hack the US govt? Yes, he did


Re: Treason

Your evidence that Clinton is prepared to use nuclear weapons against Russia pre-emptively?

As for Trump:

“Europe’s a big place,” he said on Fox. “I’m not going to take cards off the table. We have nuclear capability. Now, our capability is going down rapidly because of what we’re doing. It’s in bad shape, the equipment is not properly maintained, there’s a whole lot of talk about that, and that’s a bad thing, not a good thing.”


I don't think there's anything in The Art of the Deal which suggests that having a weapon, making sure it's ready to use, declaring that its use is "on the table" and suggesting that other parties (e.g. Saudi and Japan, but not presumably Iran) could and should have their own nuclear capability, amounts to ruling out the possibility of actually using it. Plus, of course, using nukes against ISIS is a possibility he's suggested - and American nukes would really help sort out the Middle East.

And still there are people who think Clinton a bigger danger!

Judge orders Universal Credit internal reviews must be disclosed


Re: Reality Check

Unfortunately, he is as likely to resign as Dracula to go vegan.

As of yesterday evening,Count Dracula has announced that he resigned all rights to the cattle and servants around and won't even want Whitby's wonderful fish and chips.

One of several very interesting issues is whether the Treasury thinks that there is still time to dump UC when IDS is going and the new broom doesn't have his/her feet under the table.

Trebles all round: The BBC's won this licence fee showdown


Re: Expanded it onto computers...

"But your "yes" doesn't really help with regard to the iPlayer or everything question."

I don't think that the Chancellor made it clear exactly what he expects the BBC to do - probably this is just an agreement in principle that "the online thing is a loophole and we'll have to do something about it."

In that case, I wouldn't worry, since their track record on loophole closing is like God's on closing doors - famously whenever he does so he opens a window. (Surprised his systems don't crash more often).

It will probably take legislation and not come into effect for 18 months anyway - so I'd leave any boxes unchanged for the moment.


Re: But....

"The BBC is living on past faded glories..."

If that were so, then I don't think that the Murdochs et al would be nearly as bitter about the Beeb as they are.

However, like a number of others who comment on this topic (here and elsewhere) you tend to assume that the BBC is really just its TV output. There is also the website - which is much more than just the news. There are the national radio channels, local radio, the world service, schools broadcasting, the OU and even the stable of magazines.

The TV Licence is not compulsory if you don't have a TV (and remember you can use ditch the TV and still use the radio and the website and - until they try and change it, iPlayer). But if you do pay it, this "tax" goes towards a fair number of services which you would think would be part of government and, therefore, supported out general taxation.

The world service is the most cost-effective way of maintaining British prestige and influence abroad - it keeps the network of Brits abroad in touch and acts as a standard for those values which we otherwise uphold by sending young men into deserts to die. That there are still regimes which make listening to the BBC a criminal offence is a matter of pride to me.

I am convinced that the World Service and the BBC website, together with the OU, help to keep alive the prestige of British education and funnel into our universities all those earnest Chinese and Malayan students who bring so much money into the country's education system - there's many a university which relies on their fees to stay afloat.

And from - whenever - the licence fee payer will also be paying through that bit of "taxation" what Osborne has just taken out of general taxation - the service to the elderly which the TV and the radio provide. There is a good social reason for giving free TV licences to the elderly - social isolation is a serious problem for both psychological and physical health and having a TV to watch is an important ameliorating factor.

Osborne has been particularly clever here. On the one hand he can say to the "hard-working families" (I gather no families in work are anything except industrious) that they are no longer having to support one of the "pensioner perks" - rah-rah for Osborne, G. On the other hand he can watch smugly (and Osborne, G. does smug very well) as Tory Central Office assures the right-wing press that the Conservatives do SO agree that the licence fee is an unfair subsidy to the BBC, which they would love to abolish - (whether the abolition would be that of the BBC or the licence depends on the audience, I imagine) just give them time. Leaving aside the fact that some 20%+ of that fee now goes towards supporting the government's social policies towards the elderly.

Unions call for strike action over 'unusable' Universal Credit IT


RE unusable systems

"Unusable IT is grounds for striking?

Blimey, I should have been out for the last 5 years.

Oh wait, I'm not public sector or unionised, so I just have to fix it."

You think public sector workers are allowed to FIX their systems? Wow - you are out of touch. Or perhaps they should just "manage". Did you know that, in 2013, they were still designing the front end for claimants of a new benefit, PIP. The system was ready for testing with real clients and the whole thing was supposed (it being shiny new and all) to run on a modern PC - or modern-ish anyway. So which browsers could you use? Remember, we're talking second decade of 21st century here. Answers: IE 6 and Netscape 2. That's it. How are staff supposed to "fix" that?

Going back to Universal Credit - that is an "online only" system (supposedly). IDS told everyone that having to use a computer to apply for UC would be excellent training for getting into the world of work. Of course, quite a number of those claiming UC are the illiterate or the semi-literate, many of whom do not have a computer with a broadband connection, a keyboard and a mouse. No matter, say the DWP, there are always public libraries - which the Department of whatever is busy closing down or staffing with volunteers.

How many UC claimants are going to be able to turn up at their local library, find someone who can teach them how to log on to a computer, how to use a browser and fill in a form ("Why is it all in big letters?", "I just typed in all the words and now they aren't there and the thing kept flashing at me ...") and where to enter your bank details, NI number and all those other bits of "security" stuff. And then how you make sure no one else sees it by logging off properly. And how you fill in a 30-page form half of which you don't understand in the 30 minutes you have before your time slot is up.

So then they have to go the JobCentre and ask the staff there to show them how to do it - which means the staff have to do all of the above plus getting abused by the drunks, the confused, the humiliated and the mentally ill whilst they are supposed to be filling out the forms which will sanction others for failing to turn up.

You can't just "fix" the asinine forms or the useless help screens any more than you can teach those gave up reading hard words a decade ago what all this stuff means and what they have to do about it. And if said screens keep crashing whenever you are trying to do your bit of the job, then you can't "fix" them.

Even IT staff can't just "fix" things. UC is designed to allow information to be shared between the DWP and HMRC. Do you suppose that the staff being asked (say) to design a front end for staff at the DWP are allowed to fish around the bowels of the HMRC system? I'll bet there are high-end managerial wars going on there as each department protects it IT turf - HMRC's own IT record may not be great, but it's got to be better than that of the DWP. The UC project is going through senior managers at a rate of knots - all the heads of UC seem to have fallen ill or discovered a vocation for the private sector.

Though I understand the DWP have outsourced quite a bit of the work to the private sector - several different bits of the private sector. Do you suppose they are all working together harmoniously to a clear master plan drawn up by their clients, which has been changed only in response to a well-documented consultation and testing programme? Meanwhile the Treasury is hovering over everyone, trying to get some reliable figures as to just how much money has been wasted.


Donkeys led by donkeys

You are looking at two different phenomena here. One is rampant managerialism - "If I shout at you long enough, you will discover how to get this system to produce the figures I want." The usual expressions of this are (a) targets + rewards and (b) bullying - or "carrot" and "stick". The whole being reinforced by massive ignorance at the top - IDS runs on "beliefs" not facts and when he doesn't like the figures he throws a tantrum until everyone agrees that the figures are ones IDS will like. Getting people off benefit has become the major preoccupation (target) and since finding them real jobs is too difficult, staff are being bullied into meeting sanctioning targets. This can mean sanctioning people for turning up late to a JobCentre appointment, even when they are delayed by attending a job interview which they could be sanctioned for missing.

The second factor is the determination to transform the idea of "social security" into that of "scrounging". This means that any mistreatment of claimants is justified because they're pond-life. This too is encouraged from the top. For all their PR to the contrary the DWP's own figures show that genuine "error" - often their own! - accounts for as much lost money as fraud. None the less, staff are encouraged to treat all claimants as potential/probably fraudsters - hence the "why aren't you dead yet?" approach. "He can't come to the JobCentre, he's in intensive care, hooked up to machines." "Well, put him on the phone then, we can discuss his next steps into looking for work that way."

Adobe spies on readers: EVERY DRM page turn leaked to base over SSL


Re: How does Adobe stay in business?

As for M&B buy them from Amazon. You'll get prices at least as good and the books stay on the site a lot longer. Of course, you then have Kindle's DRM, but you can read that on any PC, laptop or Android tablet - and presumably even on iPads.

Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax


Re: Tax????

I take your point and fully agree but I'm not sure I'd want to call the NHS a proper health care system. I suppose it is compared to the US though.

Well, soon you'll be able to see how it compares to US norms. Once TTIP (the transatlantic trade and investment partnership) is signed, without an NHS opt-out, large healthcare companies as well as outsourcing giants like Cerco, will be able to buy up the NHS and run their fiefdoms exactly like US hospitals, clinics etc. We will have no way of taking them back into public ownership and - quite probably - no way of avoiding the need for private healthcare insurance, along the lines of that provided by Unum etc.

Our government is quite happy to relinquish any control over healthcare costs and procedures in this country to multinationals and an international tribunal set up to protect said multinationals. So much for guarding our "sovereignty".

UK government officially adopts Open Document Format


Re: Yay!

this UK decision harmonises it with a long standing EU directive, and thus strengthens it.

Shh! or they'll change the policy without even waiting for a referendum.


Re: Yay!

Fantastic decision, one that I never thought they actually would take, given their "roll over and tickle my tummy" attitude with most technology companies.

Yup, clearly they kept IDS out of the loop on this one.

Climate: 'An excuse for tax hikes', scientists 'don't know what they're talking about'


The article says, "no other kind of scientist's opinion is much more valuable than a layman's, much though many marginal eggheads might disagree."

Not so. Go out and take a good sample of "laymen" - ask them to work out, without a calculator, what 80+10% is. How many will come up with the answer "90"? And then let them use the calculator and quite a few will come up with the answer "800" - or "8". And most will not be able to tell you what a percentage actually is. If you don't believe me, consult those who are desperate to get financial education into British schools, so that when the schoolchildren become adults a few more of them will understand what "Wonga's APR is over 1000%" really means.

Most people who have got through a science degree - or at any rate one with some amount of maths in it - will have an idea what percentages mean. They may also be able to tell the difference between a graph which shows you the seemingly huge rise and fall of your share values over the last month and the same data shown over 5 years where it looks minuscule. In other words they can, at least if they want to, make allowances for truncated scales.

Basic numeracy does not guarantee that the reader will apply other good critical skills or have requisite specialist knowledge, but it does mean that they will have the ability to look at an article with figures in it and try to make some sense of them. There are large numbers of our fellow citizens (at least in the UK and the US) who simply look at numbers as an irrelevance.

Ditto logic.

I am haunted by the picture of a woman in a documentary (which was not about smoking) who had, during her sixth pregnancy taken up smoking. Why had she done so, "Dunno," shrug, "Felt like it." "Don't you know that smoking is bad for the baby you're carrying?" She shrugged again, "Yeah, well, they say these things." She wasn't being defensive - she just didn't see the need to bother about what "they" said. Her other babies had been born healthy - this one miscarried. She didn't see any connection - it was just another one of the things that "they" said which had no impact on her.

I like to think that any professional scientist will have some idea of the difference between what might or might not be a fact and what you happen to feel this morning. I'm not making scientists out to be all paragons of logical appraisal - in their own field or out of it - but at least they have some conception of what a reasoning process actually is.

You need a list of specific unknowns we may encounter? Huh?


And then there's Big Government Projects

I had not previously seen Iain Duncan Smith a PHB, but it figures.

Seriously, though, does anyone with inside contacts in the DWP have the nerve to tell the story of the project management of Universal Credit?

The one that was going to be "all online" - all applications to be done by yourself on a computer, for a benefit with a high proportion of those with a learning disability, the dyslexic, the genuinely illiterate, the partially sighted, the ones with severely arthritic fingers, the clueless, the thick and the intellectually bone idle. All of whom, for different reasons, may find it hard to get work - especially properly paid work - and may need UC.

Then they point out that anyone with enough benefit / capital to afford a computer is getting too much money from the tax payer.

Then they reduce library funding so no one can have more than half an hour on library computers and has, anyway, to type in all their details (including bank accounts) into a system which they have to leave, but without any understanding of the phrase "log off."

Finally, you have a PHB who will lecture anyone who says the system doesn't work, won't work, couldn't work - even on an IT basis. And that's before you factor in real users. That, insists the PHB, is a form politically-motivated destructive lies. IT IS WORKING - IT IS WORKING WELL - IT WILL WORK BRILLIANTLY.

So here's something from one of those poems which management types despise:

And on the pedestal these words appear:

"My name is OZYMANDIAS, King of Kings.

Look on my works ye Mighty, and despair!"

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that Colossal Wreck, boundless and bare,

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Urinating teen polluted 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools - cops


Re: Urine is sterile

And in all probability many of those animal corpses were of creatures that have bladders and so probably also contained some urine. Also faeces.

US.gov - including NASA et al - quits internet. Is the UN running it now?


Re: Get it right

I can't argue with you about who drafted the bills - I have no knowledge of that area. But I do have some idea of the difference between writing and reading. Even if the congresspersons have not *written* a bill, that does not mean that they can't *read* it before voting on it. Especially if they are sponsoring a bill - but I suppose that they mostly read the "executive summary" prepared by the organisation which actually drafted it and which glides over any problems or ambiguities in the actual wording.

I know elected officials these days are very busy with PR and internecine squabbles, but surely some of them have interns who could read the original document and flag up the bits the original drafters slipped in or over-looked?

Australia's anti-smut internet filter blueprint lasts LESS THAN A DAY


"This is from the same political party that wants to re-edit school curriculum"

I've only just seen this gem passed by the South Dakota House of Representatives in 2010 (though the language if not the sentiment was later amended by a - presumably - more educated or informed Senate):

.. the South Dakota Legislature urges that instruction in the public schools relating to global warming include the following: ...

(2) That there are a variety of climatological, meteorological, astrological [sic], thermological, cosmological, and ecological dynamics that can effect [sic] world weather phenomena and that the significance and interrelativity of these factors is largely speculative;

I understand that Tony Abbott is - let us say - not in favour of any sort of action on climate change and that he has been known as a Young Earth Creationist. Perhaps he'd be in favour of re-modelling the Ozzie school curriculum to reflect his point of view. Teach Genesis along side the geology text books and let the students make up their own minds about mountain building and rock formation.


Q: "Why the F*** is it SOOO G*dam*d hard for Parents to Parent there Children?

Keep the Computer in a place where you can monitor what your Kids are up to while on the Computer."


A: It's possible, though surprisingly difficult, to monitor the computer use of your own children. Try, for example, watching the use a 5-year old is making of the computer whilst the 12-month old, who has just mastered crawling really quickly, is sampling the joys of "pulling himself up on the table where you've just put down the chillis in order to answer the door."

No, the real problem comes when they're old enough to go round to their friend's house without you being present all the time. Or even swapping information in the playground. At that point you're dependent not just on your own parenting skills and standards, but that of the parents of all the other children in the school. And it's not just the parents of the children to whom your children are talking / swapping pictures - it's the parents of the children that those children talk to.

Once they get to 10 years old, you have to start insisting on really strict, "who you may talk to" rules and sending them to religious academies where they'll get really unpleasant consequences for using naughty words or expressing unacceptable opinions. And THAT'S a cure worse than the disease.

Otherwise you have to opt for home schooling and social isolation and there are not that many parents - at least in the UK - who are prepared to go down that route.

Oz's 2013 heatwave was man made


Re: @Andy The Hat

"Since the article in question is behind a paywall, it isn't science."

Or to re-phrase, "if it isn't paid for by advertising, I won't believe it."

I think you'll find that most of the world's leading academic journals are behind paywalls - as is the FT, the WSJ, the Times, the Telegraph and The Economist.

Even in the post-dead-tree era of publishing most journals find it necessary to get you to pay in order to meet their costs. Getting the synopsis gives you a start. After that you probably need access to a university library with a sub to the appropriate journal.

Norkoshop: How Pyongyang well and truly forked Adobe


Re: pathetic, addendum to previous post

"Our minders were young men, mostly educated in China, Russia, even Malta, and we never knew exactly which institutions commanded their loyalty.

Over evening drinks they would crack hilarious jokes.

One night, the conversation turned to America and the 1969 moon landing. Despite their differences, our highly intelligent guides became deadly serious, insisting that this historic event had never happened because North Korea would be the first country to send a man to the moon. "



Re: pathetic

Remember one thing posted re NK which I read some months ago. The bloke writing it had been on some mission to NK during one of the periods of thaw and had been in contact with a group of (I think) engineers or some such. They did have minders, but the atmosphere was genuinely friendly and they swapped stories.

The man said they seemed to take most things in their stride and he'd become very sceptical about the standard accounts of the NK mentality. Then he mentioned the US moon landings and the was total incredulity - everyone simply refused to believe it. If such a thing had happened (a) they would have been told about it and (b) it would have been done by NK. He was sure that these folks genuinely believed that NK was the most technologically advanced country in the world.

There was, from a similar period, a documentary made about a presumably fairly ordinary family living in the suburbs of Peonyang and certainly the children seemed to believe the entire package - including the bit about the American practice of kidnapping and killing innocent South Korean children. I can't remember if they also believed that the people of South Korea were starving under the American yoke.

And the stories about Kim Il Sung (these were in Kim Jong-Il days) made it clear that he was a God Emperor.

What did the man say, if you want to make a lie believable make it a Big Lie.

Era of the Pharaohs: Climate was hotter than now, without CO2


"The government is stimulating a property boom at sea level: They do not expect to drown very soon."

Au contraire. If you want the economy to flourish make things with built-in obsolescence. Sea front properties which will be destroyed in 10 years by rising sea levels, means that in 10 years you'll need to build new sea-front properties which in turn ...

David Cameron is missing (yet another) trick for economy-growing measures.

Seattle drinking den bans Google Glass geeks



"If I decide to take a photo in public, I expect to do so without the local filth attacking me"

Better be careful where you go then - look at the fate of the UK tourists who thought they were innocuously filming aircraft in Greece. The locals didn't agree.

And filming public buildings over here can get you in trouble is the authorities (police, building owners, local baristas etc) think you might be planning to blow it up.

Paris Hilton

Re: Hmmm..

You want privacy in public? Wear a burkha.

Paris Hilton, because she doesn't.


Re: Hmmm..

So all those TV cameras filming in the street, or from a helicopter, should make sure that they have the permission of everyone present to do so? That should be fun in the midst of a riot - or an anti-government demonstration.

Socket to 'em: It's the HomeGrid vs HomePlug powerline prizefight


Re: Your iambic pentameter is off

We don't know what Shakespeare had to do to survive in the early years - jobbing extra was merely one. Maybe subbing was another ...

US diplomat: If EU allows 'right to be forgotten' ... it might spark TRADE WAR


Re: Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Not cross because EU sovereignty being threatened. Cross because US claiming jurisdiction it doesn't have.


US Constitution

"It's not in the US Constitution" - and that matters, why?

Last I heard the US Constitution does not bind the citizens of the EU. Should someone tell the Yanks.

Tablets aren't killing ereaders, it's clog-popping wrinklies - analyst


Re: Do they honestly think younger people dont read?

Werther's have more problems than Amazon as their customers have a disproportionately high chance of getting diabetes with all its life-limiting possibilities.

Gov unveils plans for 2013 launch of ANOTHER software framework



"squeezing IT suppliers with that aim"

i.e. forcing them to give an even more unrealistic estimate of a project's cost in order to get the job, which will then run even more over-budget.

What was it the old hippy said, "When will they ever learn?"

Steely Neelie: EU is crippled by its clueless tech-ignorant workforce


At one end we have and EU-wide shortage of people suitable for ICT jobs and at the other people with good IT qualifications and experience unable to get a job.

Explanations - however good the trained IT staff are, they're going to be undercut by firms in India. I understand the DM (and the union) is blaming the RBS foul-up on outsourcing to India.

A firm belief that IT staff should be seen in the same bracket as electricians and plumbers - only not as essential. They should not be paid as professionals, nor given the pensions or status which might go to accountants.

My pet drum:

I think that - as far as the UK is concerned - the problem is both simpler and much worse.

Study in 2010 found, "Around a fifth of pupils leave school functionally illiterate and functionally innumerate ... [T]his means people have “very basic competence in maths, mainly limited to arithmetical computations and some ability to comprehend and use other forms of mathematical information.

Levels of functional innumeracy are higher still among older age groups."

When big companies bemoan the lack of ICT staff, what they really mean is they want people who can read a computer screen and can see that £.5.34 + 20%VAT = £64,080 must be wrong - even if that IS what it says on the computer screen.

Something like 20-25% of the UK workforce don't understand what a percentage sign means and are thrown by a decimal point. The don't count as IT-illiterate because they can use an X-Box and program a DVD-recorder using the EPG, but from a business point of view they are not just "functionally illiterate", but "useless".

So, the solutions applied might work, if the problem were the one everyone talks about. But since it isn't, they won't.

Compulsory coding in schools: The new Nerd Tourism


Re: @DJV

And requiring all political discourse to be conducted without the use of the word "They", would reveal or remove a great deal of muddled thinking. Precision is the enemy demagoguery.

Indonesian ID card will deduct fines from bank accounts

Big Brother

Re: What about HMG?

Sorry, it's too late. Our master IDS (no, that's Iain Duncan Smith, not the plural of ID) has already set all of this in motion. We will shortly (come 2014, I think) have a new structure for many of the main benefits paid out - including working tax credit, child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance and income-related employment and support allowance. It's designed to work by integrating the tax and benefits system - so it involves getting the HMRC's computer system to work with a new one at the DWP.

Enter The Guardian (23 March 2011)

"Hundreds of computer technicians in India are being hired to help develop an IT system for the government's universal credit welfare programme, work potentially worth hundreds of millions of pounds, despite promises that large data projects would remain in the UK.

Workers in Bangalore and Mumbai are being hired by the outsourcing firms Accenture and IBM to help design and maintain a delivery system for universal credit, internal documents show. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) signed contracts with the two firms reported to be worth £525m each in December.

The disclosure appears to contradict assurances from the employment minister, Chris Grayling, who told parliament in November that he would not allow his department's major IT projects to go abroad."

Note: to design AND MAINTAIN the system which has the details of everyone who is claiming any income-related benefit. Since we are talking households here, and benefits involving children, the details of a substantial part of the UK population will be entered into the system. And the system will then talk to the taxation databases, which has everyone's bank details.

Presumably the DWP's other big databases - including that of everyone near or over pension age - will get linked in as well.

And all being maintained in India, where the handling of credit card data has been such a howling success.


Re: Usb

Okay, outbreak of political correctness no doubt, but I'm entering a pro forma objection to the word "retard". I'm probably feeling sensitive because we have a family member who is pregnant in her 40s, making the chance of a Downs baby non-negligible. And we have one already among the cousins. So the word "retard" is not one I'm easy with people using.

Secondly, it's over-optimistic in that it suggests that the "loss" of large amounts of data that way is most likely to be the result of stupidity. As others have said, cupidity or blackmail will achieve that faster and more efficiently.

Child abuse suspect won't be forced to decrypt hard drive


Innocent until ...

.. only if he really is a kiddy fiddler.

Suppose you wanted to get into someone's hard drive because you thought he was doing something that Disney - er - the DMCA doesn't allow, or even keeping files on the misdeeds of a presidential candidate. You accuse him of paedophilia, get the keys to his hard drive(s) and go fishing for what you can find.

Britain's Harrier jump-jets reprieved to fly and fight again


The wrong trousers

Whose trousers? Well, the wrong trousers probably. It will be the private consultant who "liaised" with US forces, and the bankers who are arranging the finances. Plus a promotion and (eventually) a gong for whoever claims the credit in the MoD (or whatever it's called these days).

As for what *sort* of private consultant - well, I can't think of any names, off hand.

Ofcom mulls smackdown for rogue religious TV channel



Given the current lag between "Hey, I think we might have a good idea" and "Here, the NHS wants you to take this pill," is something like 18 YEARS, I think they'd have time to change the law.

OTOH all sorts of things that you can only get on prescription are not currently advertised on TV (just heavily promoted to doctors)so it may be that HMG (in all its various guides since 1937) doesn't want patients deciding what drugs they want on the basis of TV advertising.

Can't remember the last time I saw an advertisement for Bob Martins either.

Microsoft breaks own world record for IE nonsense


Also not a MS shill

In fact a fan of firefox.

I've read almost all the comments on here, and I still think that the people shouting, "it's marketing-speak, folks," probably have the right of it.

I first saw the "native" and felt my brain do a quick flip - what, did this actually mean? Well, I think it didn't mean anything much as it was written.

What I suspect he meant was this new browser will be the best place to view sites using HTML5, because we built it with HTML5 in mind. The "native" thing was just sloppy phraseology when what he mean was that IE9 was optimised for HTML5, and that as a result you'll get better results on IE9 (preferably plus Windows 7) than you will using other browsers on other platforms, when looking at a site crafted with html5 in mind.

But he really REALLY meant was, "This latest version of IE is way cool dude," but didn't have the nerve to come out with it in front of a Windows crowd.

Digital player maker 'incited consumers to break the law', says ASA


what copyright-free music?

If you are listening to a recording of music by Beethoven, then someone is performing it and the performance is subject to copyright. (This why Desert Island Discs never turns up on iPlayer!)

If you are actually performing yourself, then you are presumed to have acquired a legal copy of the music - which someone has edited, laid on the page etc etc, and that edition is subject to copyright.

If you are listening to an ad which has music in the background then the advertiser/ director/ producer of the ad has paid a fee for the use of that music - possibly to the person who composed it (though s/he may have sold all their rights to a record company years ago) , possibly to the people who are performing it (though they're likely to be session musicians and get a one-off payment) and almost certainly to the firm of copyright lawyers who enforce it. Ditto for any music you hear on a TV programme.

If you make a permanent copy of any TV programme, then you are probably breaking copyright law, since you are only legally entitled to make video recordings for the purposes of "time-shifting" after which you are expected to wipe the programme.

Whether you are displeasing the advertisers when you copy an ad is much more difficult to know - probably not. They do, after all want you to see the ad as much as possible. If, however, the composer of the catchy tune is being paid every time it's shown live, then s/he will probably be cross that you're listening to their music without them getting any payment.

And copyright gets much more complicated than that! For example, someone wrote an unauthorised biography of Cole Porter, and was not allowed to mention even the title of any of his songs in the book - song copyright is very tight, but only lasts 50 years - let alone quote from any of the lyrics.

Literary work is usually in copyright for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years. One of the first world war poets is still in copyright, even though the man has been dead more than 70 years, because his literary estate brought out a new edition of his poems with some previously unpublished material in it - this extended the copyright of everything in the book for another (I think) 50 years.

What actually goes on may bear very little resemblance to the legal position, but none the less copyright lawyers do not starve.


In the UK, but ..

a recent article in a computer magazine told you how to carry out this sort of ripping - if you live in Germany, where format-shifting has been made legal.


I hope it works

These copyright laws do need a complete re-write, but if they get one we will find that it favours Rupert Murdoch and Disney, since the American Music and Motion Picture Associations' lobbies are very well-funded and very powerful. We aren't quite as pigheaded as the Germans about avoiding US political pressure.

Though I do get one piece of satisfaction from the current state of affairs. Every time I hear someone saying, "Those who have nothing to hide, have nothing to fear," I think to myself - I bet you've got some illegally recorded music, video or TV programmes in your house, and just never knew that it was illegal to keep those old VHS tapes of say, "Archer's Goon" (hat tip to the memory of Diana Wynne Jones who died a few days ago) - even though you can't buy a legal copy. They probably think that ignorance of the law is a defence too.

IT Angle

A Copyright story which has nothing to do with IT

An academic in a Physics Dept did some research, which he published in a some reasonably reputable academic journal. Next academic year he included his articles in his teaching material. His university received a bill for ££££s in copyright fees, because the standard contract makes all academic articles the property of the journal - whether or not they have paid for them.

If you get clearance to use copyrighted material in teaching the text must be photocopied using the entire original pages, not be cut and pasted and not stapled together. You may not give it out at the beginning of term either - it must be distributed in dribs and drabs throughout the course.

This presumably encourages the students to buy more academic books.

NASA's Glory climate-data sat crashes into Pacific on launch


Why did no one think of it?

I'm a little surprised that no one thought to make any observations about the weather before there were satellites. You'd have thought that making systematic notes about temperatures, rainfall, crop yields, pressure would have occurred to someone before the 1950s.

All those long voyages around the world in sailing ships, and no one recorded any data. What a lot of missed opportunities.

ISPs under pressure to control online porn


Hear, hear

As I said in another post - talk to them about porn when they're old enough to have seen it, but young enough not to mind when you talk about it.

The technical question you asked:

"Who would be responsible for the system, and how would they enforce it in multi-occupant properties? You know - family homes, with multiple age ranges?"

has a simple and deadly answer. The people putting forward a filtering system mostly know that it will fail. They have then established [a] that we "need" and "will accept" a "filtering system" (i.e. internet censorship) and [b] that the existing system doesn't work.

So the only solution is to have a national firewall which will keep out all of this "filth" as well as "undesirable material" of other kinds - like instructions for making bombs, or sites advocating a jihad or a global caliphate or telling you how to commit suicide. (All of them "filters" which have been actively promoted in this country).

After that - well, fill in your own pet "filters". Welcome the Great Firewall of Britain - joining that of North Korea, China, Australia and doubtless many others.


Why discourage porn?

Said this elsewhere: the damage done by porn is not that it destroys the innocence of young minds - the playground will do that. It's not that it will sexualise them too early - the TV will do that, along with the development of hormones at an increasingly young age.

The real damage done by porn is that it will mess up their (eventual) sex lives, and give them a wholly unrealistic ideas about their own bodies now, that of others of the same sex and any/all of the opposite sex. Thinking you should act like a porn star, and have a body that will give the same results will make them unhappier than they need to be.

You can still horrify and amaze a porn-savvy generation by showing them pictures of the genitalia of ordinary men and women. Tell them about how a real woman experiences sex and they will be astonished and depressed. (both sexes)

But banning it is NOT the answer. Explaining the difference between fantasy and real life is.


Before the internet

We were, I suppose, lucky. The internet as we know it was non-existent when I had to worry about my children. There were things to worry about, though - sex, drugs and heavy metal for starters.

One problem is that we keep talking about "children" as if they are all alike, but there are huge differences between seven-year old children and fourteen year old children.

When they're seven, you can ban computers in the bedroom, and control mobile phone access and screen their friends. Come fourteen and they head out of the house, "Where are you going?" "OUT". And you have to decide whether you are prepared to make an issue of it. I didn't, but I was prepared to make an issue out of what time they came in - and spent 2 years of my life on a permanent war footing. And discovered that they had more stamina than I had, and more relish for the fight.

On the other hand I never had many worries about alcohol - I knew they would get drunk from time to time, and doubtless regret some of what happened as a result. But I had let them sample wine/beer at mealtimes since they were quite young and they largely despised those of their peers who went crazy the minute they could get into a bar.

I suspect that, as other posters have suggested, that the only way to handle this is education. But you have to do it early enough. They learn a lot very young these days, so you might as well take advantage of that knowledge.

If they know what porn is before they really want to access it, then you can talk to them about it before [a] they find it too excruciatingly embarrassing to talk to their parents about sex and [b] they want to make a point of conflict, because fighting their parents is what teenagers do.

[Pundit mode]The worst damage that porn does is not that it makes innocent children think about sex, when they would otherwise be pure in heart and body, or even that it gives them the wrong signals about acceptable bounds of behaviour in real life. The latter will usually correct itself . It's that they can end up with totally unrealistic ideas and ideals about their own bodies and the opposite sex, and sexual performance and that can cripple them for life. Most porn is about as realistic as World of Warcraft. You can't just teach them (or try to teach them) not to use the stuff - it's a learning ground for many young people. You can teach them to distinguish it from real life.[/Pundit mode]

But they will fight you, and try to outwit you about something - that's part of growing up for most teenagers.

Baby Boomers committing suicide at unprecedented rates


Substance abuse?

Several of the posters have mentioned "substance abuse" and I think one of the most common side effects is supposed to be mental health disorders.

This could account for the growing numbers of those killing themselves as a result of mental health problems.

I think perhaps that the numbers with mental health problems from more traditional causes (bad genes, bad luck) would not have changed very much over the decades, so they would not account for the increase.


A change in the label?

One obvious aspect has not been mentioned in this article (though I haven't read the original) - it's a question of labelling.

Fifty years ago (or thereabouts) suicide was illegal in this country, and thirty years ago there was still a tremendous social stigma. I remember seeing a programme on the rise in teenage suicides, where one person made the point that it was often hugely distressing to the family to see "suicide" on a death certificate - especially that of a child. So doctors put down "accidental death", as a kindness.

However, the stigma is gradually receding, and families are less likely to need (or be allowed) to pretend that the death of their child was an accident, and so "suicide" was being written down more often on the death certificate. End result is that people who go and count the number of death certificates with "suicide" on them notice a marked increase.

If you're careless or biased in your reporting, you may not mention that the records may reflect a different trend to the one you report.

I don't know about these researchers, but the possibility that doctors might be writing "suicide" more often in the US as well seems worth considering.


An outbreak of rationality?

The Boomers are the first generation to watch their parents succumbing to dementia in large numbers - 1in 4? something like that. Now, if you think that a similar fate is coming your way, then you might well decide that you'll skip it.

Dementia can be just distressing - I watched a family member just get weaker and more confused, but she remained herself. Another older one spent two years trying to spoon food into the mouths of invisible children, and fretting because they hadn't been bathed. Frightening. At that point you may feel that God has already taken the person away, and left the body behind.

So maybe they just took a look at the way the party was going and decided it was time to go home.

I'm rather dubious about this, "rejecting the gift of life," bit when it came to suicide. I'm old enough to remember when tea came out of teapots, and often there will still tea leaves in your cup. No hostess would expect you to drink the last drop of tea with the dregs in it - you left the last bit in the cup, because it wasn't fit to drink. I understand port drinkers did the same.

So why would God demand that you should eat every bit of meat - even the gristle, or all of the apple without discarding the core?

Maybe the suicidal have just decided that they will kill themselves whilst still can - if you wait until you're really ill then you can't kill yourself and no one is allowed to help you. No, our current law in the UK has a simple message - if you think you might want out, then do it whilst you're fit and healthy.

Of course, the "Boomers" might simply realise that everyone aged 30-45 now wants their parents dead as soon as possible to get hold of the money before its wasted on someone else's enjoyment or health care. Some of them love their kids enough to oblige.

Google slaps malware warning on Radio 3 website


"Why would a radio station need a website anyway?"

"Why would a radio station need a website anyway?"

Presumably this is obvious, but this is Radio 3 in the UK.

[1] It plays all sorts of stuff in long chunks to schedule. This means that people like to be able to look up what going to be played, or when a discussion programme is due.

[2] When it has a snippets programme, people often use the website to check the playlist . I set my mother's browser up to have the R3 playlist on the bookmark toolbar, and she used to impress her friends (she's in her 70s) by being able to fire up the computer, press a button and tell them exactly which Bruckner symphony they were listening to. (With Bruckner you need to be told - they all sound the same.)

[3] It's the website through which you can get to the Radio 3 iPlayer, to catch up on the late night prom you missed, (which was actually why I got a call from my mother saying - what's all this warning about).

[4] There are also things like extra programme notes for the concerts, the complete schedule for the Proms links to other resources.

Does that answer your question?

Samsung R780 17.3in laptop


Barbeque Rating

Please can we have temperature ratings for all laptops - i.e. how safe are our laps with these atop? I've just lost most of the advantage of my current cooling "pad" (its cooling fans have packed in - the extra passive ventilation remains) and will have once again to go on the hunt for a replacement.

I'm also supposed to be replacing this laptop, which is my main machine, and really want to know if there are powerful laptops out there which don't need you to cart around a large chunk of metal which keeps the machine just cool enough not to turn itself off, whilst wrecking the USB ports with the constant power drain.

Some of us have to use laptops on all sorts of impromptu surfaces (coffee tables, for example) and need not to burn them, or ourselves, even when doing quite demanding things with the machine.

So, standard question for all machines - will it roast chestnuts after 40 minutes in use?

Rise in Latvian botnets prompts Spamhaus row



I'm not any sort of expert on anti-spam measures, but I do know something about academics:

It all depends on which academics were involved. If the university department involved has just been through some radical cuts (and I believe the Baltic states have been very badly hit by the current financial crisis) it's quite possible that the only person who really understood how the thing worked had just been made redundant by those in charge, who really hadn't the slightest idea what the department was doing.

And/or the whole thing was passed on to the newest member of staff, who said they understood it, but didn't.

And/or running this department was a job for 20 working staff and there were only 3 of them - they ignored emails because they needed to sleep.

And/or there's a "who cares anyway?" culture in that department/university/country. "Oh, I never bother with abuse emails - they're more trouble than they're worth and usually just banging on about something we all have to put up with. Golf anyone?"

And/or there's at least one abusive spammer actually in the department/institution who's cleverer than the people who supposedly run the operation, and they just re-direct the email into the "junk" box. Crime pays a lot better than universities.

And/or no one in Latvia sees why this sort of thing merits that sort of response - they may regard spam busting as "Just these Health & Safety Nazis trying to ruin things for small countries in a difficult world."

There's probably a Latvian equivalent of the Daily Mail claiming on the front page that. "EU bureaucrats are trying to block Latvian free access to the Internet" (and yes, I know Spamhaus is not only non-EU, but not an official body of any kind." - and they may know, but why waste good propaganda?) and inside that some poor businessman is overwhelmed by spam and someone should do something about it. Meanwhile they have a centre spread about how Latvian taxpayers are supporting idle academics just to keep some unnecessary geek fiefdom going, and to impose a lot of fancy rules on "the rest of us."

I do not claim that any of these things is actually happening - I have no knowledge of the workings of this ISP in particular or of Latvia in general. But human nature, and the behaviour of human organisations - especially in times of stress - is rather easier to generalise about.