* Posts by veti

3118 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

RBS debit card payments have gone utterly TITSUP

veti Silver badge

Re: hand write a cheque. If they refuse , then they have a problem

Err... no.

There is an actual, well defined concept of "if you offer $PAYMENT to the vendor and they decline, then you've settled the debt and it becomes their problem", it's called 'legal tender'. But the only thing that qualifies as 'legal tender' in the UK is cash - notes and coins, either issued or (in the case of Scottish banknotes) underwritten by the Bank of England.

Cheques don't qualify. The vendor is within their rights to refuse your cheque and continue to demand some other means of payment.

The UK's 'Universal Credit mega cockup was the coalition's NPfIT' - Margaret Hodge

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Re: Civil Service versus techies

I'm sorry, I didn't follow that argument. Are you saying that FMD was a bioweapon unleashed against the scientific civil service?

Managerialism is, ironically, what you get when you start trying to monitor your civil service performance more closely. The more we talk about "holding them to account", the more they'll concentrate on covering their arses.

The IRS spaffed $12m on Office 365 subscription IT NEVER USED

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Re: $12 million?

Yep, the average poor ol' longsuffering US taxpayer is down by almost 9 cents as a result of this cock-up. Or rather they would be, if the budget were balanced - actually it's more like 7 cents of taxes plus 2 cents of debt.

Tell you what - just out of the goodness of my heart, I'll send you your 7 cents, if you'll pay for the postage.

The exploding Note 7 is no surprise – leaked Samsung doc highlights toxic internal culture

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Re: Business as usual then

Well, let's see.

Minimum wage: SK 6030 W, that's about £4.36 at today's exchange rate. That's significantly lower than the UK.

Working hours: South Korea has a mandatory 40 hour working week, but "it is legal to demand up to 12 hours of overtime during the week, plus another 16 hours on weekends" - for a total of 68 hours a week. (That can officially be demanded of employees.) In the UK, employees can't be required to work more than 48 hours a week, even with the working hours opt-out. Of course, in both countries you can also "volunteer" to work longer.

Leave: S Korean employees start with 15 days annual leave allowance. UK employees start with 28 days.

Health and safety: it's surprisingly hard to find actual data on this, but according to this page, South Koreans are about 12 times likelier than Britons to die at work.

And according to OECD figures: the average South Korean worked a total of 2113 hours in 2015, compared with 1674 for the average Briton. So I guess that also accounts for part of the difference in deaths at work. After all, if you spend more time there, then by the iron laws of statistics, you're more likely to be there when you randomly keel over.

Blighty's National Pupil Database has been used to control immigration

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Re: If the police or Home Office asks, they are ALREADY legally required to.

If, for example, the Home Secretary had decided that Home Office or Police should never ask for this data, then irrespective of the legal situation, this would not happen.

The police and other Home Office goonscivil servants have generations of expertise, and specialist teams working 24/7 to apply it, in the specialist subject of "changing the Home Secretary's mind". That's why the National Identity Register keeps coming back from the grave - no matter how many times we think we've staked it, and regardless of which party is in power.

Twitter yanks data feeding tube out of police surveillance biz

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Re: Potential

Why would you have a list? Just follow everyone.

And how can Twitter not provide a real-time feed of what each user inputs? Isn't that literally their entire function?

Should Computer Misuse Act offences committed in UK be prosecuted in UK?

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Re: Seems simple to me

US law is actually pretty clear on this. If you're standing on Highway 35 in Kansas, and you shoot someone who's standing 100 yards down the road in Oklahoma, it's the state and people of Kansas that you'll be answering to. (Absent complicating factors, like either you or your target being an Oklahoma law enforcement officer.)

The crime is committed where the criminal is, not where the "victim" is. This really isn't hard.

WikiLeaks claims 'significant' US election info release ... is yet to come

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If there's a serious leak to be published, why doesn't he just publish it already? Isn't that what Wikileaks was supposed to do?

The only reason I can see for spinning it out like this is to spread FUD, innuendos and completely unsubstantiated guesswork about what it might contain, across as many news cycles as possible. By now, no matter what he releases, half the internet will react as if it's a film of Clinton tap-dancing on a bed of kittens, and the other half as if it shows that she personally is the one who shot Bin Laden. Neither side will believe or even hear anything the other says.

Assange is playing directly from Putin's book here.

Super Cali: Be realistic, 'autopilot' is bogus – even though the sound of it is something quite precocious

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Re: again?

Of course! Educate people! Why didn't anyone else think of that?

People have been trying that since the Enlightenment, if not before. It's never worked yet.

Or to put it another way: language is about communication. If a large enough majority of the people you're communicating with have a common idea of what a word means, then that is what it means, and it's you, not they, who needs re-educating.

Criticize Donald Trump, get your site smashed offline from Russia

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Re: Why are these things not being shouted from the rooftops?

@bombastic bob: it takes a very special reality filter to call George Soros, a non-practising Jew who was 14 when his native land was inhabited by the Nazis, a "former Nazi collaborator".

Please, for all our sakes, get out and get some news from a source that isn't run by and for true believers of your own party. Before you vote.

veti Silver badge

Re: If this asshat gets elected..

Trump's portrayal in the media is nothing like who he really is.

It always mystifies me when people come out with this. Like, you have some personal hotline that gives you the real lowdown on Trump's character, that's not dependent on "the media"? Yeah, right, and I've got a nice clean Internet to sell you.

Unless you're a personal friend of his, and let's be clear, by "personal friend" I mean one who could expect to call him at any reasonable hour and talk to him in person - in which case please say so - then all you know about him is what he and the media want you to know. So please get over your delusion of "insider truth".

veti Silver badge

Re: What an shallow fool!

Not really true. I mean, it's true of China, but much less so of Russia. If that were the reason, then the attack should be Chinese-dominated, not Russian-dominated.

The Russians, from what I've seen, are - as a country - actually pretty good at infosec.

veti Silver badge

Re: Trump will win

"this is not an endorsement; it's a prediction."

Unfortunately for you, that prediction is an endorsement.

Trump doesn't have a "campaign" in the traditional sense of a platform of policies for which he's trying to build support. His plan has been from the start to spray out contradictory statements, and silly ideas that he can later say were obviously implausible and could never have been meant literally in the first place, with the result that it's impossible to criticise his policies without sounding like an idiot (because in order to do so, you have to take him seriously).

Instead, he's built a campaign on a narrative in which his eventual triumph is inevitable, because he's the "hero" of this story. (That other Trump tool, Scott Adams, has that much right.) The more often people repeat "He's going to win, I can just see it's gotta happen, even if all rational people brick their pants at the idea", the more likely it becomes that he will win.

If you genuinely don't want him to win, don't make that prediction.

veti Silver badge

Re: "given access to the launch codes"

So, the best you can find to say of Trump is that he wouldn't be allowed to do anything in office, and would lead instead to a military coup in the USA?

Now there's something to look forward to.

Australia wants law to ban de-anonymisation of anonymous data

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Oz policy continues...

Nice to see that some things survive mere changes in government...

I see this as a natural extension of Australia's war on science. Now they've dragged in maths too.

British Gas wins pre-paid smart meter patent lawsuit

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Re: Prior Art

Not quite. The case is about associating payments directly with the meter number.

British Gas doesn't do that for regular meters: your payment is associated with your account number. After all, you may have half a dozen separate meters, each with their own number. Or you may have moved out of the house three months ago and be paying off old debt. Whatever, there are gazillions of scenarios where it would be problematic, as well as silly, to try to associate a payment with a specific meter.

But for prepay meters, those considerations don't apply, and associating the payment directly with the meter is the obvious and correct thing to do. With prepay, it doesn't even matter who the customer is. I can, if I choose, load a hundred quid of credit onto my meter the day before I move out, and leave that as a gift to the next resident - that's a completely valid thing to do and I'd be highly indignant if my supplier interfered with it.

veti Silver badge

As I read it - no, there's no indication that BG was using any code that had derived in any way from MeterTech.

But the thing about patents is, it gives you ownership of the whole idea. If I patent "making payments using a meter number as an identifier", and you - quite independently and without being aware of my existence, much less my work - come up with the same idea, I can sue you for infringing my patent, precisely because you haven't paid me for it.

That's what was going on here. And the judge, in a reassuring display of good sense, wasn't having it, because the idea itself is patently (sorry) obvious.

Ordinary punters will get squat from smart meters, reckons report

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Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

@cantankerous swineherd: If you wanted to screw with the UK's electricity supply, it'd be far easier and more effective to hack the National Grid, rather than trying to hack 100,000 separate meters made, installed and administered by 30 different companies.

Or you could just take down some of the baseload generation. Which is why it's such a dumb idea to rely on the Chinese, or the French for that matter, for that. Either of those countries could do more damage for way less effort than you're suggesting.

veti Silver badge

Re: Doesn'nt Brexit make this optional?

Look, if you want to start up your own electricity retail company that's completely British-owned and controlled, knock yourself out. It's not that hard. Basically, all you need to know is SQL. The rest is just a bunch of specs and regulations that can be looked up as needed.

It's also not that profitable, which is why more people don't do it. The margins are pretty slim.

Disclosure: I work for an electricity retailer (although not in the UK).

There's an astonishing amount of bullshit talked about smart meters on this site.

Insecure? Look, there are over half a billion of the things installed worldwide, in places they've been operating for 10 years or more, and as yet I haven't seen a single verified report of hacking. I don't think they're invulnerable, I just think they're not a very exciting or lucrative target.

No gains for the customer? Are you telling me that UK retailers don't charge their customers when they send a guy in a van out to reconnect their meter? For us, that charge is fully 70% lower when the meter can be reconnected remotely.

No competition? Which? lists 192, that's one-hundred and ninety-two, different tariffs, from more than 30 different companies, to choose from for my old UK address. How much competition do you need, exactly?

Wrongful disconnection? Newsflash, we can do that with an old-fashioned meter too - the big difference with a smart meter is, it's a lot quicker to reconnect - and in either case our liability and your recourse are exactly the same.

It's not all roses, there's some perfectly valid arguments to be made against smart meters. But 99% of what passes for debate on this site, as on most others, is pure FUD - spread, I can only imagine, by electricity retailers whose databases are crap, and meter manufacturers (Landis & Gyr, I'm looking at you) whose meters are crap.

Self-driving Google car T-boned in California crash

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Re: Is there a story here?

As ane fule kno, hands free doesn't help.

People yapping on the phone don't prang the car because they've got one hand off the steering wheel. They prang the car because their mind isn't on the road. Hands-free phones don't fix that.

Every study on the subject shows this. But of course you can't sell so much electronic gear with this message, so good luck getting it recognised in law.

Silicon Valley’s top exorcist rushed off his feet as Demons infest California

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Re: Sherlock Holmes

What do you think "Satan" is?

Brexit at the next junction: Verity's guide to key post-vote skills

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What's wrong with the Oxford comma?

It avoids ambiguity, and more importantly it's named after a British city. (Oh, I understand there's some kind of school there too, but who cares.)

I'm sure my parents, Boris Johnson and the Queen would agree.

Brit boffins get $800k for Los Angeles Twitter pre-crime tech

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Yeah, except that's not what they're talking about at all.

If you read the article, it's about predicting that it's likely that a crime will be committed in such a place in such a time window, and putting a couple of cops there to deter it. That's really no different from having police line the route of a street demo or a carnival.

Of course there are obvious problems with measuring the performance of this model - a bit like Lisa Simpson's tiger-repelling stone - but actually, it's easier than you'd think. All you have to do is deploy it in some areas of the city for a controlled period, and measure the overall reported crime rates in areas where it is used versus those where it isn't. If there's a statistically significant improvement, then great. If not - oh well, it was only a million bucks, pretty small potatoes really.

US Homeland Security launches IoT willy-waving campaign

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Re: Empire Building

Nah, the Gestapo's full name more-or-less translates to "Secret State Police", which is clearly different.

"Department of Homeland Security" is, however, not that far away from a decent translation - allowing for some differences in usage and structure - for "KGB" (lit.: "Committee for State Security").

TRUMP: ICANN'T EVEN! America won't hand over internet control to Russia on my watch

veti Silver badge

Re: All hail the new Golden Don!

No, we'll never get used to saying "President Trump".

Sniggering it, maybe. Sobbing, perhaps. Chortling, for sure. But saying?

Not gonna happen.

veti Silver badge

Re: All hail the new Golden Don!

Next time someone asks me about Poe's Law, I'll point them to this post.

She cannae take it, Captain Kirk! USS Zumwalt breaks down

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Re: OK it looks small to radar

Try getting a field howitzer within 20k of it. Betcha can't.

The threat to warships on the open sea is from guided missiles, not old-school field artillery. If you can dodge a guided missile, you've got much better survivability than an armoured warship that has no defence against taking an Exocet amidships.

Of course there are plenty of scenarios where this isn't true, armour does still count - any brown-water operations, for instance - but the US Navy is not so small that every ship has to be able to do everything, they can afford to specialise.

Lethal 4-hour-erection-causing spiders spill out of bunch of ASDA bananas

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Re: Did someone ID the spider

Too right. F***ing foreign spiders, coming in taking up British homes and British spiders' jobs, and what does Asda do? It doesn't even know the spiders' names! How are we even going to know we've got rid of them?

This is what Brexit was for, the f***ing EU would never let us throw out the foreign spiders. Now we can control our own bananas!

veti Silver badge

You're counting it wrong...

Bananas in Asda cost about 16p each. If someone at minimum wage can check 3600 per hour (one second each), that would cost 0.2p per banana. Perfectly feasible.

Encryption backdoors? It's an ongoing dialogue, say anti-terror bods

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Re: 1+1=3 !!!

"They can't do it perfectly for everything, therefore they shouldn't do it at all" is one of the sillier arguments trotted out here.

No security is perfect. That works both ways - no spying is perfect either. The goal isn't to eliminate the threat, no-one thinks that's possible, it's just to continually raise the bar. To make it harder to compete.

It doesn't have to be impossible to encrypt, it just has to be "hard enough to defeat a high enough proportion of those undesirables who might otherwise do it".

And how would you know when your encryption was broken?

It's OK for the FBI's fake hacks to hack suspects' PCs, says DoJ watchdog

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Re: Aww, the press shedding crocodile tears...

Yes, because "the Press" is a monolithic agency and past misbehaviour by any self-styled journalist anywhere justifies retaliation against all journalists everywhere.

AP's argument in this case is about the damage to their reputation. Not "the press as a whole", but "AP as a specific agency".

Let's take out the email/press angle, and think about a more, let's say traditional, type of operation. Suppose the Feds had dressed their agent up in overalls and sent him round to the house as a representative of "Joe's Plumbing", to investigate reports of a gas leak, and incidentally plant an old-fashioned bug while he was there.

Would we consider that "fair play" by the FBI, assuming they got a warrant first? I would.

But what if there is a real local company called "Joe's Plumbing" that does precisely that kind of work, and the agent had deliberately faked their logo, their stencilled van, their business cards, all without mentioning it to the real company? Don't you think that company would have cause for complaint?

I think the least the FBI owes the AP in this case is an apology, and probably a mutually agreed system for clearing/approving future operations of this sort in advance.

Yelp wins fight to remain morally bankrupt

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Re: My two cents worth

@Doctor Syntax: Pagerank is absolutely bankable, yes. But it's not the same as "reputation". It's effectively controlled by a single company, which can manipulate it any way it chooses and doesn't have to explain what it's doing or why.

Yelp and Google have an unholy deal that gives *ridiculously* high profile to Yelp's "reviews". I can only imagine that Yelp pays Google an ungodly amount of money for that deal, but I'll never know for sure and neither will you (unless you happen to be a high ranking exec at one of those two companies, in which case I assume you wouldn't be compromising your employer by commenting on here).

@IsJustABloke: you're making the point. You're going by a "reputation" that's determined by the reviews you happen to see. Guess what? - those reviews are not a fair sample. They're not "all" reviews for the site, and they're also not a "random" selection: they're a selection, written by people who may or may not ever have been within a thousand miles of the place, and chosen by editorial criteria that we don't know.

What we do know about it is that the "editors" will sell advertising to the reviewed establishment, on the basis that if they buy it then the negative reviews will no longer be seen.

That's a very, very different thing from listening to friends and family and people with actual reputation on the line.

veti Silver badge

Re: My two cents worth

You're talking as if "reputation" and "reliability" were still actual bankable commodities.

Nobody cares any more. The closest we have to "reputation" online is Google pagerank, and guess what? - you can fix that by giving money to Google, which Yelp does in great profusion.

US Marine Corps to fly F-35s from HMS Queen Lizzie as UK won't have enough jets

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Re: US Marine Corps will be flying F-35Bs

General plea:

Can we please stop the gargantuan tidal wave of misinformative sewage that is currently passing for a "presidential election campaign" in the USA from infecting every comment thread on anything anywhere?

We get it, both your choices are awful. We know that neither one of them has ever, as far as documentary evidence can ascertain, told the truth about anything since the beginning of the campaign. We know that whichever one you support, electing the other will mean the end of civilisation as we know it. (Again. Pretty sure I've heard this same story every election cycle since at least 2000, but never mind that.)

So when someone digs at one candidate or the other - just let it go. You can't wrestle a pig and come out smelling of anything but shit.

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you.

Brexit? We have heard of this, says Dixons Carphone CEO

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Re: Hang on. ...

@Flocke Kroes: If the other EU members wilfully abuse the A50 process in the way you describe...

... that will prove, to my satisfaction at least, that the Brexiters were right all along, the EU has become an anti-democratic institution and deserves to be broken up by any means necessary.

It's an interesting paradox of Brexit that both Leave and Remain camps seemed half the time to be arguing each other's cases. But both were so incapable of elementary logic, and the 24 hour media was so hopeless at any sort of followup or continuity of argument, that they didn't even realise it.

Nul points: PM May's post-Brexit EU immigration options

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Re: How we leave should be ...

Back in the 80s, I used to hear a lot of "most Tories are old, just wait for them to die off and we'll have perpetual socialist government".

That reasoning doesn't work.

Very likely some "Leave" voters would now switch their votes if they could. But for all we know, there are just as many if not more "Remain" voters who would also switch. We don't really know, short of having another referendum - and even that wouldn't really answer the question, because if you signal the electorate that you're willing to keep on voting until you get the Right Answer, the voters will quickly change their behaviour to send another message right back...

Yes, the Leave campaign was full of shit. But so were the Remainers. Neither one would have lasted ten minutes in a decently-run high school debate club, let alone in Parliament; the only reason they could get away with a tenth of the bollocks they parroted was because the 24 hour media is constitutionally incapable of checking them.

This is a design flaw in modern media. It's a big flaw. And it's going to be the death of democracy if we can't do something about it.

Making us pay tax will DESTROY EUROPE, roars Apple's Tim Cook

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Re: I don't get it.

@ AIBailey:

"Tax avoidance of the highest order" is precisely what Apple's accountants and tax lawyers are paid to do, they wouldn't see anything troubling about that.

The question is whether they knew the Irish government was doing something that put it in violation of its own commitments. I think there's reasonable doubt about that, and I'll be astonished if it can be proven against them.

veti Silver badge

Re: I don't get it.

@Bob Dole (tm): First, as has been explained, the EU isn't saying Apple has done anything wrong. They're saying Ireland has done something wrong.

It is possible that Apple, being a resourceful company with no shortage of lawyers, knew that Ireland was exceeding its authority in the deal it struck. But that's conjectural, and unless it can be proven, Apple won't be punished. Merely required to pay the back taxes it owes, with no penalty or even interest charges.

"EU member states continuing to lose sovereignty" is one of those... slurs, I suppose is the best word, that relies on not thinking too carefully about what "sovereignty" is. It's the kind of thing Putin's people have been saying a lot recently, in their remorseless efforts to undermine the EU (which worked a treat with Brexit). But "being told off for breaking the rules you've agreed to abide by" is not a loss of sovereignty.

The fact is that - thanks to Brexit - we're just about to discover whether or not EU member states still have meaningful "sovereignty". If Britain is allowed to leave with a minimum of fuss and without punitive retaliation, then sovereignty is as good as it ever was, for whatever that's worth. If not - then the EU has overstepped its legitimacy, and the Brexiters were right all along. I'll be agog to see which it is.

veti Silver badge

Re: Just Heating Up My Popcorn ...

Presumably because Apple is loudly resisting the FBI's efforts to backdoor their kit.

(Ooh err missus)

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Would you take a job where the description of your duties said "do the right thing"?

Can you imagine how the reviews would go?

Europe to order Apple to cough up 'one beeellion Euros in back taxes'

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Re: Hehe

The referendum is over. Move on.

This has been a public service announcement brought to you by the Committee to Get Over It Already.

An ethical Google won't break the internet, leaked EU report finds

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Re: If we're going to create a new "ethical" copyright law...

The words we need to bake into the copyright law are "These, enumerated, acts are the ones you're allowed to restrict. Everything else is none of your goddamn business, and any attempt by you to limit it in any way whatsoever, whether legally or technically, will result in your work losing whatever legal protection it might otherwise be entitled to claim".

So for instance, you can sell a copy of a work, and you can prevent making or reselling unlicensed copies of that work. But if you try to, e.g., prevent the owner from playing it when he buys a new computer, or prevent him from playing it on a particular type of device, or because the playing device was purchased in a different country from the medium - bzzt, you're out, your work can now be hacked freely and serve you right if it ends up on a torrent.

Because copyright law doesn't give you the right to limit any of those things.

IoT manufacturer caught fixing security holes

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Re: Reflexive luddism

"Did I remember to lock the door this morning? Let me check."

"Little Johnny gets out of school at 3:15 every day, home at 4, an hour and a half ahead of either of us. Instead of giving him his own key (which he'll undoubtedly lose, sooner or later), how about he texts us when he's home and we open for him then? You can even check the camera if you're nervous."

"Hi, it's Jenny, I'm on my way back from Brazil and I need a place to crash in $HOMETOWN. Is it OK if I use your spare room? I'll be arriving about lunchtime, leaving the next morning."

Yep, I can certainly imagine wanting to control my locks remotely.

veti Silver badge

Reflexive luddism

Mutter "smart" grumble locks groan real keys mumble solved problem simmer hiss get off my lawn.

But seriously: for once, I can actually see a plausible use case for these things, and I quite look forward to the year 2050 when they might actually be fit for purpose.

Corbyn lied, Virgin Trains lied, Harambe died

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So is that belief based on - anything, or is it just something you feel very strongly, like appendicitis?

Paper mountain, hidden Brexit: How'd you say immigration control would work?

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Re: Parliamentary negligence

Yes, but remember the regiments of fearmongers threatening what horrible things would befall if the vote was to leave?

Yes, the Brexiters were full of shit. But so were the Remainers. I don't see anyone really acknowledging that.

There is no recession.

There is no World War Three.

There is no brigade of vindictive EU governments out to screw us every way they can.

Happy Anniversary: What’s new, what’s missing in Microsoft’s giant mobile update

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Re: Skype on Winphone 8.1

My phone runs 8.1, and 10 hasn't even been released for it. I guess because it really doesn't have a lower hardware requirement than 8.1, despite MS's policy over the last few Windows releases.

When this handset croaks, I'll do what I always do: look around for a replacement and buy whatever looks good at that time. I don't do OS loyalty.

Russia is planning to use airships as part of a $240bn transport project

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Re: ...helium currently comes from natural gas..."

Hydrogen is better than helium for balloons in just about every way. It's lighter, providing more lift; the molecules are larger, meaning they will take much longer to leak out of the balloon; it's way, way cheaper and easier to produce; and unlike helium, the supply is a renewable resource. As for the fire thing - it was the fabric of the Hindenberg that burned, the hydrogen was incidental at best.

The only reasons not to use it are (1) it's a bit dangerous to store (much like any other explosive fluid), and (2) there's more profit in selling helium.

What bothers me about airships for long-distance transport is the speed. If the ship manages an airspeed of 60 knots, then a gale force or stronger headwind means your ground speed will be zero or negative. I've found it hard to find decent data on the subject, but from what I have found it looks like in the upper troposphere, wind speeds are at least that fast fully 25% of the time. That's a lot of downtime.

Julian AssangeTM to meet investigators in London

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Re: Ugh...

Ten years from now you'll be able to watch your pick of documentaries, and come out with whichever preconceived story the producers wanted you to.

If you really want to know "what the heck went on", you'll have to pay much, much closer attention than that. I'm not sure it's even possible at this point, short of applying to work at the Ecuadorian Embassy: there are so many shills and trolls on both sides who both have plenty of mud to throw up, to defame Assange on one side or muddy the issue on the other.

Neither side is making even the most cursory attempt to pretend to be fair or honest, and I don't see that changing in my lifetime.

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Odd. In every police procedural I've ever seen, the cops are forever bimbling all over the place, talking to suspects wherever they happen to be at the time.


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