* Posts by veti

3118 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

In colossal shock, Uber alleged to be wretched hive of sexism, craven managerial ass-covering

veti Silver badge

Not a steady state

One point that everyone seems to be missing here is, this was a changing situation.

When this woman joined, they had 25% women. When she left, it was down to 6%. That implies that the culture shortly before she arrived can't have been that bad, or else that reduction would already have happened.

So something changed at Uber, probably shortly before she joined. What was that? Any guesses?

Is your child a hacker? Liverpudlian parents get warning signs checklist

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Re: Being a criminal has little to do with the list as given.

It says "has multiple social media profiles on one platform".

I'm fine with ridiculing the advice, but at least ridicule what it actually says, not what you hallucinate it to say.

Florida Man jailed for 4 years after raking in a million bucks from spam

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Re: "He will have to forfeit all of that ..."

And it's worse than that, because this is only what happens if you get caught and convicted.

How many other spammers are there who haven't been caught? You need to divide the penalty by that number to get an "expected cost of doing business".

Errors in Australia's Centrelink debt recovery system were inevitable

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AI my arse

I may be missing something here... but isn't this the same problem that basically every utility company already solves with a common-or-garden SQL database?

A webcam is not so much a leering eye as the barrel of a gun

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If your camera had a separate "hardware" power switch, would you trust it?

I wouldn't.

OK, it's time to talk mass spying again: America's Section 702 powers are up for renewal

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14th amendment

And this, dear Americans, is what you get - and frankly, what you deserve - for trying to bypass the constitution.

Seriously, which part of "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" was not clear? You cannot pass laws that protect American citizens, but not non-citizens in the same situation. It's unconstitutional, and rightly so. This is what happens when you try.

Rasputin whips out large intimidating tool, penetrates uni, city, govt databases – new claim

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Re: Stored Procedures

I suggest reading up on the basics of SQLi here.

Kremlin-linked hackers believed to be behind Mac spyware Xagent

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The Russian apologists seemed to have gone dormant back in January - presumably on their Christmas holidays - but now they're back with a vengeance, I've noticed on several sites.

It's really annoying. Web forums were always pretty limited in usefulness, but thanks to the Olgino brigade they're becoming actively malign now, at least towards those of us who give a damn' about the survival of peace and democracy in this world.

Roses are red, violets are blue, fake-news-detecting AI is fake news, too

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We expect too much from "news"

All the discussion over "fake" vs "real" seems to miss a fundamental point:

Journalism isn't magic.

Journalists don't know any more what's "true" and what's "bullshit" than the rest of us.

The only thing a journalist can reliably tell us is "so-and-so said this". The verb, 'said', being the all-important part of the story, the actual news content. Everything else is "analysis" or "speculation", not "news".

If a story says "Theresa May is about to declare Trump's visit a national holiday" - that is Not News. There's no "said" in that story. If we choose to take a stance (believe or disbelieve) on that, then we are taking a position on the journalist's ability to foresee the future. Which is obviously bullshit.

But if the story is "Cabinet official says Theresa May is about to declare Trump's visit a national holiday" - that's a story. It may be true or false - and unrelatedly, the story that the cabinet official has told us may also be well or poorly founded - but it is at least capable of being actual news.

If we all kept this much more clearly in mind when reading, we would be better able to separate the news from the bullshit masquerading as news.

No crypto backdoors, more immigration ... says Republican head of House Committee on Homeland Security

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Not all politicians are the same. Film at 11.

The Powers That Be have always found it useful to keep a few nutters around, that way the general populace feels better represented. It's called "the big tent".

Doesn't mean those people will win the debates. The thing to watch next is how hard they try to win this particular fight. And what they do about it if/when they lose.

However, I must point out that - this is Comey's "adult conversation", right here. "Backdooring - no. So what else is there?" - is quite an adult thing to say.

GoDaddy CEO says US is 'tech illiterate' (so, yeah, don't shut off that cheap H-1B supply)

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Re: I agree that these concerns about H1Bs are about suppressing wages

Nah, the first thing that would happen is, they'd be required to work 90 hours a week instead of just 70.

I say, abolish the H1B program entirely. None of this "reform" bullshit. Then let America sink or swim with its homegrown talent, and do whatever it takes to raise its next generation of programmers.

I smell lots of opportunity for us foreign techies in that scenario.

veti Silver badge

Bombastic Bob, I actually agreed with your basic point. Until you derailed it into ranting about liberalism. The first two sentences of your post are reasonable, but thereafter you're more interested in MAKING yourself look like an IDIOT who can't get himself out of CAMPAIGN MEGAPHONE MODE.

Which is not really helpful for debate.

The real reason college degrees aren't everything is because there are many ways to learn things. College is usually the easiest, but that doesn't make its graduates any better than those who learned their stuff the hard way.

And indeed sometimes the opposite is true, because the college was more interested in ticking boxes and cashing checks than teaching anything. (See: Trump University.)

UK website data insecurity worries: Users in bits over car break-up emails

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Re: Nothing new under the sun

You can't very well use your real middle initial for those purposes, because it's not a secret to begin with. There are lots of places where the poll tax bods may have researched it from. (E.g. passport office, DVLC.)

As for "ways of spelling 'Road'" - look, the database I work with contains a lookup table of all 'road types' ("road", "street", "way", "highway", "crescent", "avenue", etc. - there are about 400 entries altogether), and lists a standard abbreviation for each of them. What that means is that an address on "Bloggs Road" will be abbreviated in some correspondence as "Bloggs Rd" - regardless of whether it's entered as "Bloggs Rd", "Bloggs RD", "Bloggs Rd.", or "Bloggs Road". I hope this illustrates (one of) the problems with using this information this way.

Grumpy Trump trumped, now he's got the hump: Muslim ban beaten back by appeals court

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Well, what this shows us is that the man has no interest in governing. He's still campaigning.

Remember, he doesn't have to answer any difficult questions about what he does. Because the only media his base believes is the media that he, or his henchmen, directly and personally control. They've been taught that everything else is fake and lies, so it simply doesn't matter what any half-way neutral reporter or outlet says.

Samsung battery factory bursts into flame in touching Note 7 tribute

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Re: Ironic

However, for all we know (to the best of my knowledge there's no good research on the subject) - unbuckling your seatbelt may also drastically reduce your chances of having an accident.

When I was in school, I had "roadcraft" lessons given by an insurance investigator. He liked to say that if you really wanted to cut the accident rate on the roads, what you should do is (1) ban all drivers'-side seatbelts, and (2) mandate instead a six-inch spike sticking out of the steering column at the driver's chest. That, he opined, would cut the total accident rate by at least 90%.

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

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Re: Banking passwords!

When Obama came in, I waited hopefully, although to be honest not that hopefully, for him to repeal the rule (introduced by Bush) about fingerprinting all visitors on arrival.

Still waiting.

It's going to take more than a change of management.

veti Silver badge

Re: no more trips to the US then - settled

If you've set foot in the US since 2002, then you've already given your fingerprints to those same people.

Me, I've been avoiding the place ever since then.

This measure? Well, you could have a talking point in that it's a violation of the Terms of Service to disclose your password to anyone - therefore they are asking you to commit a felony ("trafficking in access-control devices (namely, passwords)" under 18 USC 1029).

Humanity needs you... to build an AI bot that can finger rotten headlines

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Re: There will be shortcuts

Your prejudice is showing. The Mail has some very high calibre journalists.

It also has an unspeakably horrible editorial spin. But there's nothing wrong with the quality of the research or writing - just the choices of what to report and how to spin it.

But there's a difference between "misleading" and "false". Read the Mail's stories for what they actually say, not what they imply or hint or "try to lead you to conclude", and you can get a lot out of it. (In that regard it's actually better than the Independent nowadays. The Indy has some great writers, but its editorial spin is just as shameless as the Mail's, and it doesn't have anything like the resources the Mail has to check its facts.)

veti Silver badge

Re: How can this work?

Well, if Paul Ryan was going about saying something like that, it would be mentioned in several places. And pretty soon Ryan himself would put out a statement through official channels, either confirming or denying or "clarifying" what he said. Ditto if it's attributed to "his staff".

If it refers to "Todd Hays (R-KS)", then you look that person up. Pretty sure it's not too hard to find a directory of congresscritters.

Yes, the story will be retweeted and spread quickly. But within 2 hours, tops - which is to say, long before most people have actually seen it - it will have been either debunked or "clarified". And the simple rule is: if Ryan himself denies the quotes that are attributed to him, then they're false. End of story.

If it's attributed to "sources close to the House of Representatives", that comes under "unverifiable sources". In that case a human fact checker would try to verify them, using their own "sources" in that position: how plausible is it that someone in a position to know something would have said these quotes? I don't know how to get a bot to make that assessment, so just flag it "unverified".

But note what the story actually says. Specifically, it does not say "Trump is about to be impeached", and anyone who reports it that way falls immediately into the "analysis or speculation, not news" bucket. What it says is "such and such a person says this is about to happen".

That's what I mean by all *news* being about what people say. Not about "what is really happening" - because, turns out journalists don't have any direct hotline to Ultimate Truth. All they can report is what they're told. Anytime we ask or expect them to do more than that, we're asking them to make stuff up.

veti Silver badge

We're doomed

"Truth by consensus" will work for a while, until someone - probably the Russians - work out how to game it. Won't take long. Just ask Google, they spend beeellions in keeping just one step ahead of the "optimisers" (read: liars).

I think the only sensible way to try to distinguish fake news is to follow up the references. Because, and it's important to remember this, all news stories take the form "A says X". If your story isn't syntactically equivalent to "Bob says 'It's raining'", then it's Not News.

References support the full story? Then, and only then, is it "real news". Of course the quality of news is only as good as the references, but that's always been the case and always will be. Repeated references acquire Reputation.

Story has references, and they're verifiable, but the references only confirm a small part of it? Flag as "analysis or speculation, not news".

Story has references, and they're verifiable, but they don't say what the story says they do? Flag as "bullshit".

Story has no references? Flag it as "creative fiction". This works for any story whose author doesn't explicitly say how they learned these things they're telling you.

The tricky case is: story has references, but they're unverifiable. Then you would want to cross-reference, and it's hard to do that without introducing guesswork. How plausible is it that these people exist, and would do or say these things? I can't think of any procedural way to make that assessment.

More tech companies join anti-Trump battle, but why did some pay for his inauguration?

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A partial transcript of The Donald's early meeting with tech CEOs has emerged. This line might throw some light on why the tech leaders came out smiling:

"So it's agreed, then. You'll give me what money you can spare to make me look good, and whenever you decide to build anything or employ anyone in the USA over the next four years you'll give me credit. In return, I'll implement my immigration policies in such a haphazard and random way that they'll never stand up in court. All you have to do is challenge them, they'll be tied up for years and have no net effect. Do we have a deal?"

(Note: this is not true. The above quote is crude satire and obviously fabricated, although equally obviously it really does reflect what's going on. But please feel free, Democrats, to "leak" it, and Republicans, to blog about how Democrats are making up news.)

Conviction by computer is go, confirms UK Ministry of Justice

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Tell that to the 36 million Americans who have fishing licenses.


veti Silver badge

I think a more detailed translation would be:

"We think it's a cool idea, so we're going to do it anyway. The fact that my son-in-law runs a database company is neither here nor there."

Data breach notification law finally makes it to Australia's Parliament

veti Silver badge

Well, no. The test is:

the access or disclosure would be likely to result in serious harm to any of the individuals to whom the information relates;

Note, any of the individuals - which means you have to consider the worst case, not the best.

Of course it's incredibly vague and clearly designed to enrich lawyers. But what else is new.

RAF pilot sent jet into 4,000ft plummet by playing with camera, court martial hears

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Re: “teapots”

It's a freakin' Airbus, not a Tornado. Why shouldn't it have teapots on board?

(Plus, presumably, a pressurised container to boil the water. 'Cuz making tea at regular cabin pressures, that's be a travesty.)

UK uni KCL spunks IT budget on 'reputation management' after IT disaster headlines

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Re: Reputation Management

I don't think £1,000 would buy much of a club dinner. Consider how many people they would have to cater for...

I also don't think it would run to kneecapping, or threats of kneecapping. Or even, for that matter, a single hour of lawyer time.

For that kind of money, I would expect someone to Google the story, and send off polite emails to everyone they find who's covered it - and that's about it. Even calling it "reputation management" is a stretch.

veti Silver badge

Or maybe they should spend a few grand on Dropbox. Just sayin'.

It's strange, when outsourcing goes TITSUP, commentards are quick to point the finger. But when an in-house service explodes in far more costly and spectacular fashion, it's "maybe you should spend more money on it".

Well, maybe they should. But they should also consider the possibility that, just maybe, someone else could do it better.

Parents have no idea when kidz txt m8s 'KMS' or '99'

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Re: teen/tween slang has half-a-generation lifetime anyway

Considering that the whole point of slang is to differentiate between generations, and not coincidentally to exclude the parents' generation from their talk - that suggests a system that's working exactly as designed.

Comcast staffers join walkout over Trump's immigration crackdown

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Re: War is fine, closed borders are not

Obama didn't start the war in Syria. That was part of the Arab Spring, which is generally laid at the door of Wikileaks - Trump's biggest backer.

Trump, in his first two weeks, has authorised military operations killing American citizens in Yemen, threatened to invade Mexico, and hung up the phone on the prime minister of Australia because the latter wasn't showing proper respect when hearing about the hyoooge crowds at his, Trump's, inauguration, which he totally should have been awed at because I'm sure the PM of Australia doesn't have anything more important to think about.

So I'm not holding my breath for him to bring about world peace.

veti Silver badge

The workers have X days per year of paid leave. If they want to spend that time demonstrating, that's their choice entirely. To stop their pay for it would be the act of a fascist.

Brexit White Paper published: Broad strokes, light on detail

veti Silver badge

Unfortunately, you're still in denial.

You say you're "accepting we need to leave. But only if we get a good deal."

It's been made very clear - and if either party in the referendum had been honest, they would have told you about it beforehand - that you need to commit to leaving, before you know what sort of a deal you get. You may not want to buy the pig in a poke, but that's the pig's packaging and all you get to do is take it or leave it.

In retrospect this seems like quite an unfair condition in the Treaty of Lisbon, but since the whole idea was to deter people from using it, I don't think there's much chance of getting it renegotiated now.

Netherlands reverts to hand-counted votes to quell security fears

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Re: Wait... Wut?

It bears repeating every time "voting machines" comes up...

The purpose of a democratic election is not to make decisions quickly, or clearly, or consistently - it's a terrible way of doing any of those things. The purpose is to convince the losers that they've lost.

And to that end, the most important aspect of the whole thing is transparency.

If you open-source your platforms, release every line of code and complete circuit diagrams of all hardware and a complete list of system users with access privilege levels... then there may be perhaps half a dozen people in the Netherlands who would have the ability, the time and the willingness to look at all that information and saying with confidence "yes, it's fair". (Of course they may be wrong, or they may be compromised, or they may simply be trolling us. Who knows.)

But if you mark votes on paper with pencils, seal them in boxes, unseal the boxes and count the votes in front of witnesses - then practically all the adult population can understand that, and can see that you're doing it fairly.

There's no comparison. Pencil and paper is several million times better than any voting machine.

IETF 'reviewing' US event plans in the face of Trump's travel ban

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Re: Hey Chirgwin...

That's right BJ, keep it classy.

Note that Vaseline is made by Unilever, a non-American company, so you might want to research alternative products to suggest.

Cyber-spying, leaking to meddle in foreign politics is the New Normal

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Re: Wonder

Have you actually read any of the leaked emails? In full, I mean?

I have, and I'm here to tell you that "truth" and "fiction" don't separate out that easily.

For instance, there's quotations from third parties - a lot of those, often reported in the press as if the author of the email was saying these things, when in fact they've just copied and pasted a whole article from somewhere else. Are those things true or false?

Then there's places where the email author has added their subjective opinion about something. By nature, "subjective opinion" is neither true nor false. But it can be embarrassing or compromising, particularly when taken out of context.

Then there's stories where some "journalist" has cobbled together extracts from dozens of separate emails to tell an overarching story with much personal interpretation and innuendo by the author. (I put "journalist" in scare quotes here, because I think there's a better-than-50% chance that any given one of these stories was actually written by a Russian propagandist.) The quotes may all be genuine, but that doesn't mean the story is even remotely valid.

Then there's things like "The Real Fake News List". How do you even grade that? (Hint: try clicking on a couple of the links.)

Bottom line is, if you even try debating this stuff, the best possible outcome is that you'll generate another round of headlines about it, and everyone who already thinks you're crooked will walk away with the impression that you're trying to obfuscate things. Because it's complicated, 'mkay?

veti Silver badge

Re: "MIght appear to be unprecedented?"

Well, to the best of my knowledge the CIA has never lied about this topic either. Sure they've lied about other things, but then so has Wikileaks - with a much shorter track record to go on - so that's a wash.

Seriously, h4rm0ny, at this point I'm wondering what your agenda is. Why are you so keen to throw doubt on the blatant Russian agenda that even Trump himself now acknowledges?

veti Silver badge


The post you're replying to refers to "DC Leaks", not Wikileaks. Different thing entirely.

And doesn't it strike you as even slightly noteworthy that all the leaks, from both DC and Wikileaks, have been in favour of pro-Russian candidates?

Trump's cartoon comedy approach to running a country: 'One in, two out' rule for regulations

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@The IT Ghost

I'm fairly sure that "I'm fairly sure that..." is a tell for truthiness rather than actual knowledge.

There's a reason why "turkey ham" is regulated: because people who sell food are unscrupulous bastards who would, left to their own devices, not hesitate to pass off one product as another. Regulations governing those products give consumers the confidence to trust the label.

That's often the case with regulations: they exist for a reason, even if that reason isn't immediately obvious to some Year-Zero zealot in the present day. In the context of software, Joel Spolsky explains it quite eloquently here.

I'm sure there are lots of laws and regulations that can be repealed harmlessly. But I don't know which ones. Neither do you, and neither, I'm 100% confident, does Donald Trump or anyone who works for him. And therefore, I can predict confidently, right now, that what will happen - and what Trump expects and wants to happen - is a frenzy of self-serving deregulation, as people use the mandate as a reason to repeal the rules that they personally (or professionally) find inconvenient.

The problems thus created may take many years to come to light, by which time Trump and all his henchmen will have packed their things and retired to their bunkers, but America will be living with it for decades to come.

Trump's visa plan leaks: American techies first

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Re: The salary should be in the top 10% of the range for tech in the area

"The most highly qualified, highly educated" - can get in on better terms than an H1-B.

As a non-US tech worker, I say scrap the program. Completely and permanently. None of this "reform" bullshit.

Parliamentary Trump-off? Pro-Donald petition passes 100k signatures

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Re: nice!

Big John, nice to see you clutching straws here.

One petition has been "waiting for 3 days for a government response". In other words, it passed the 10,000 threshold (and got noticed and publicised) 3 days ago. The other has been "waiting for 2 days for a government response".

One day ago, as reported on this very site, it was at 1 million signatures. Now it's close to 1.8 million.

The other petition is approaching 200,000.

So please, do feel free to tell us all about which one is growing "very rapidly".

Human memory, or the lack of it, is the biggest security bug on the 'net

veti Silver badge

Re: Try blaming the correct people next time.

Fine. If you don't want to revisit the shop and reuse the account, just give it a random string for a password. (Mash some keys into a text editor until it looks suitably gibberish, then copy and paste it into the password and confirmation boxes. Remember to close the text file without saving.)

More importantly, though: always, always make sure to untick the "record my card information for future purchases" option. That way, if anyone does crack your account, they're still no closer to being able to spend your money.

What annoys me more is sites - like El Reg, for instance - that require a password that does need to be reused, and does need to be remembered, for a transaction that has close-to-zero impact if compromised. If someone cracks my El Reg password, about all they can do is make some silly and/or offensive comments in my username. I make those myself already, so I'm willing to accept that risk.

Kylie withdraws from Kylie trademark fight, leaving Kylie to profit from… existing?

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Re: Oh the irony, missed by the plastic one (although, she is from the US).

Sadly, "Real Kylie" has never been that big in the USofA. It's entirely possible that the Kardashiklan had never heard of her when Kylie Jr was born.

veti Silver badge

"Prior art" is neither here nor there - this is about a trademark, not a patent.

Trademarks aren't meant to be particularly original (or "Hello Kitty" would have been a nonstarter) - they're just meant to differentiate one company's products from its competitors.

Former Mozilla dev joins chorus roasting antivirus, says 'It's poison!'

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Re: :unsure:

See, I'd feel a lot more convinced by this argument if it had more quotes from genuine infosec specialists criticizing AV software

What, you mean like this, or this, or this?

If you've been paying attention at all, you know the literature is out there. This is just a story about one guy's opinion. Take it for what it's worth, which is not much, but don't dismiss the whole subject just because this story doesn't cover the whole thing. That's like reading an article about Arctic sea ice that mentions global warming, and dismissing "global warming" because the article doesn't go on for 20 pages telling you everything there is to know about it.

Did you know? The FBI investigated Gamergate. Now you can read the agents' thrilling dossier

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OK. The report is 173 pages, and I'd be lying if I said I'd read it all, but I've glanced through the first 20 pages, and already I've seen more threats than you're describing.

Have you read it? If not, where precisely are you getting your information from?

In my experience, journalists are far from perfect, but they do a way better job than random and/or anonymous trolls on advocate sites and blogs.

Trump signs 'no privacy for non-Americans' order – what does that mean for rest of us?

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Re: Yet ANOTHER Trump story?

There's a reason why all the media except those directly controlled by Trump and his henchmen are solidly anti-Trump: because the man is, quite clearly, by any plausible objective standard, unspeakably awful.

And more than that: he goes out of his way to goad the press into making these judgments. Any time anyone in the media shows signs of softening towards him, he'll make some announcement or tweet carefully calculated to embarrass the fuck out of them.

That's his strategy, it's how he won. Now he can paint the media as solidly against him, he can convince his faithful that "all truth is relative" and "the media is all lying", and behold! reality really doesn't matter any more. How many people were at his inauguration? Doesn't matter. All that matters is what Trump's own Twitter feed says.

Plump Trump dumps TPP trade pump

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Re: Good for the average man on the street.

Nobody has ever negotiated anything "in the open". Period.

From your terms of employment, to Donald Trump's campaign finances, to the TPP - everything that could possibly be called a "negotiation" has always been secret. Has to be. Sometimes someone will publish a tell-all account - but only after the fact, and even then you can bet it's polished up to be as self-serving as Trump's own resume.

What's the biggest danger to the power grid? Hackers? Terrorists? Er, squirrels

veti Silver badge

In proportion

Does no-one remember ANYfuckingthing from more than a few weeks ago any more?

Eight deaths? In 35 years? Boo hoo. In 2003, one software bug in the grid system - in America - killed 12 people in 2 days. Reference.

Software engineers - and, by extension, hackers - are way, way more dangerous than any number of rodents.

Google harvests school kids' web histories for ads, claims its Mississippi nemesis

veti Silver badge

Well, now I've had time to read the legal filing (linked in the article), and I've done a complete U-turn. I now suspect the AG is completely right and may well have Google bang to rights.

The key point is, nowhere does he actually allege that Google is sharing the information. That detail is inserted, either by some PR flack who doesn't know what they're doing, or by El Reg, who really should know better 'cuz this is exactly how fake news spreads.

But apparently "sharing" is neither here nor there. Google promised it wouldn't even harvest or "process" the information, even completely internally, for commercial purposes.

veti Silver badge

Have an upvote. This stinks of "A-G wants to get his name in the press".

My guess is, the only evidence he has is that students are seeing individually targeted ads. But of course that's what Google does - that in itself is no evidence that they're sharing squat.

On the face of it, it seems very unlikely that they would. As you say, sharing the data would (a) get them into trouble (as per this story), and (b) cost them money. Seems a very strange business decision.


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