* Posts by veti

3118 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

UK Home Sec wants Minority Report-style policing – using your slurped data

veti Silver badge

Re: Proposed Constitutional Amendment

Right, so repeal the first amendment - then set up a government body to license people to speak and write on given ranges of topics. You'd need to pass a mandatory public examination before you're licensed to comment on a blog.

Yeah, I can see that being really popular in some quarters. Not so sure about others.

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Re: Shirley

No problem, just elect the people who did the drowning. Sure sounds pretty sociopathic to me.

Cops hate encryption but the NSA loves it when you use PGP

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Re: I think I'm missing something...

According to the (utterly broken) UK snooper's charter currently under way - "metadata" is defined as "anything that doesn't tell you what the actual 'content' of the message is".

So if a message is encrypted, the whole thing becomes metadata. And then the ICP has to store it.

This is just part of the reason ICPs are none too keen on it...

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Re: Did I read that last bit right?

As I read it, he's trying to talk people out of using encryption by saying that it makes them targets for investigation.

Which is probably true, as far as it goes.

If everyone started doing it, then of course the advantage would disappear. But we all know "everyone" isn't going to start doing that. At best, about 1% of internet users will. And so the haystack will remain much smaller than the field.

If you see someone arguing "We all need to start using encryption all the time, the spooks won't know what to do" - that's the person who's trying to spread surveillance more widely.

In this Facebook and Google-owned world, it's time to rethink privacy

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Facebook could offer a paid "premium" service that would be marketed as mostly swank - you get a gilt-edged home page, whatever - but incidentally including privacy protection. That would get around the "nobody wants to put a price tag on it" issue.

Universal Credit: The IT project that will outlive us all

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Reading foreign news is always a bit reassuring like that, isn't it?

But then remember, you have to share a planet - and a world economy - with these losers. There is an extent to which their screwups bring you down as well.

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Re: Doomed

@Rol: very funny.

What would actually happen is, the IT dev would say "Sure, we can support that, I'll get a quote to you". Then he'd go away and bill 300 hours for scoping it, which is of course only a preliminary to actual planning, let alone detailed costing.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer representative (i.e. politician) would be paralysed by indecision until she sees the focus group polling on the topic, at which point she'll be passionately for or against it regardless of any other arguments. And then she'll realise, as every politician does sooner or later, that her opinion is not the last word, and she'll have to do a deal with the other people on the committee to get her way. And maybe it's worth not getting her way on this, if she can get it on something else she cares more about instead.

In other words, politics.

And so we're back to square one. Which isn't surprising really, because you know what? those people are in those meetings already.

veti Silver badge

Re: Project Management

Whoring is an honest trade. I think you'll find that "what and when you deliver" is very important in it.

BT dismisses MPs' calls to snap off Openreach as 'wrong-headed'

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Re: Roads. Electricity. Internet.

@Bluenose: while that's true, it's not the whole story.

The politicians will change the requirements (etc.) because the requirements issued first time were pants. And everyone knew, back in the day, that they were pants and would need to be redone. But it was in no-one's interest to say so: the politicians would lose face, the contractors would lose money. So they went ahead anyway.

"Getting the first project done" is an exercise in futility, it's aiming to achieve something that is, at best, completely useless. At worst, it's some combination of ruinously expensive, lethally dangerous and hilariously illegal.

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Re: Privatisation

@Tom 7: BT was privatised in 1984, so how that explains stopping a programme in 1990 is a little puzzling.

How to save Wikipedia: Start paying editors ... or write for machines

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Re: Not quite getting the WikiCar bit...

Yeah, I was thinking: if there was a car you could get FOR FREE, then just pay to insure and tax it, and most of the time it worked pretty well even if occasionally it had problems - then yes, I'm pretty sure it would be a monopoly, and rightly too. I know I'd take two.

Because the cars you pay $50,000 for also aren't exempt from problems. Except that in their case, it'll cost you another $5k to get them fixed. And the insurance will be more.

Microsoft legal eagle explains why the Irish Warrant Fight covers your back

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Re: Dear MS

That's... not really related, is it?

Microsoft is a good company to be carrying this fight, they have deep pockets and good connections, and they are - as mentioned in TFA - no longer as cosily in bed with the US .gov as Google. (Not even gonna comment on Amazon.) I'm happy to applaud them on this, even while I fight off Windows 10 on my machines.

New open-source ad-blocking web browser emerges from brain of ex-Mozilla boss Eich

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Re: Ok...

FF22: you need to look up what "theft and fraud" are, because you're throwing the terms around very freely, and I don't believe any reputable legal authority would support your usage in this context.

A "website" is a resource that the website owner has chosen to make public. Nobody forced them to put those files on a server, connect it to the internet and let people request that content via HTTP.

Any web browser has (and has always had) the technical capability to be selective about what it downloads, and - separately - about what it processes and displays. (Indeed, that's arguably what a web browser is for.) I remember browsing without images, just to save on bandwidth - this was long before ads became the scourge they are now. Just because a picture or a script is served to my computer, doesn't in any way obligate my browser to show or run it. Anyone who doesn't understand this - really shouldn't be trying to run a website, because that's like trying to drive a car without knowing what a "road" is.

As for those hardworking website owners who deserve to be compensated - there are plenty of options available to them. The only model I won't support is the one where they use scripts to download material from other domains.

veti Silver badge

Re: Brought it on themselves

If "every white, every male, and every American person" stood shoulder to shoulder with the criminals in their midst and refused to acknowledge that they'd done anything wrong, or even that anything that had happened was wrong, in the face of a significant level of crime directed against people outside their number...

... then yes, it'd be completely fair to collectively punish the lot of them.

That's what advertisers have done. Industry groups like the IAB have made a huge deal about "self-regulation" being the way forward, about how they'd keep out the bad apples to protect their own reputations, and then totally, utterly and abysmally failed to make even the most rudimentary attempt to follow through on that idea.

Screw 'em. I owe them nothing. And if that means 94% of the internet is going to go bust, actually I'm OK with that.

UK can finally 'legalise home taping' without bringing in daft new tax

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Fair as in Vanity

So... the government is to maintain a pool of money that it distributes to artists who support it are deserving, based no doubt on a published formula that I'm confident will be as fair, transparent and unbiased as any Putin press release...

And how exactly is this pool supposed to relate to the amount of copying going on?

At least a "tax on blank media" makes some effort to connect the two, albeit in a very blunt and stupid way. (If you add 10p to the price of a blank CD, logically you should be adding 140 quid to the price of a terabyte hard drive, because that can also be used to record music.) A "pool from general taxation" just means "however much the gov't wants to bribe artists by this year". Watch for it to go up the year before an election.

Prez Obama sends Iranian defense hacker home in prisoner swap

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Re: Hack the Casino

Also a promising vector for social engineering attacks, I would have thought. Hack the email system - monitor for targets contacting the casino (making reservations, whatever) - then write those targets back, from the casino's own mail server, asking them to do (compromising thing) to claim their special offer.

It'd work on most people I know.

European human rights court rules mass surveillance illegal

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Re: Unfortunately

Technically, the European Court of Human Rights is not related to the EU. Which is a good thing, because it removes a whole layer of potential posturing and complication from this story.

This is indeed good news, but contrary to the Register's opinion, I don't think it will make that big a difference to the UK gov'ts plans. It all hinges on what you mean by "surveillance". The court was talking about a provision to "search people's houses, mail..." - which is pretty damn' intrusive. "Collecting aggregated metadata(TM)" is quite a different kettle of frogs.

UK Home Sec stumbles while trying to justify blanket cyber-snooping

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@Anonymous Coward: you mean this post here - the one with the link to his submission?

Yeah, horrific censorship there.

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Last I heard, written evidence submitted to Parliamentary committees all gets published. That's pretty transparent.

(Unless, of course, it says "for the full story, refer to Document B, which is classified". Which is very possible.)

Human cost of California gas well leak revealed

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Re: Gun toten

Only a Yank lurker would consider more than 10 million guns "very few".


Microsoft’s Get Windows 10 nagware shows signs of sentience

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Re: how to nuke this krap

No offence meant, but - I'm not about to download and 'Run as Administrator' an unknown set of binaries from a pretty-much-anonymous Someone I don't know from Admin.

Also, if you're confident enough (and willing to take the time) to "Check for updates but let me choose whether to download and install them", then you really should have nothing to fear from this nonsense anyway.

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Re: Ripped CDs... on Apple...

Really? I've never bought anything from iTunes - don't even have an account - but somehow, my iPod is loaded with several dozens of albums all the same.

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Oh, you have admin rights all right. Unfortunately, so does the update process. So anything you can do, it can undo.


Windows 10 makes big gains at home, lags at work

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"The fuss" is about the forcing of the upgrade. Before I disabled it, there was an icon that would pop out of my system tray several times a day to tell me to upgrade to Windows 10; if I was fool enough to click on it, it would give me two options: "Upgrade now" or "Upgrade later (by which, it implied, it meant 'next time I restart')". There was no "F*** off and leave me alone" option, or even a "Ask me again in six months" - pressing <Alt>-<F4> was the ONLY way to make the prompt go away without installing Windows 10 - and even then it would keep reappearing.

How did I disable it? By editing the registry. Manually. Myself. No button to click, no options in the Control Panel would have that effect.

Now, I hear the latest version of the upgrade will, if I'm sloppy enough to allow it to be applied, actually rewrite my registry settings. So the thing I've gone (way) out of my way to opt out of, will happen anyway. At this point I'm this > < close to disabling automatic updates entirely, which is the opposite of what Microsoft claims they want their users to do.

I'm pretty hacked off about that. If Windows 10 guaranteed to preserve all the functionality of my present version (8.1), guaranteed NOT to impose any new license terms and conditions on my usage, NOT to weaken my privacy, and to guarantee me support for the lifetime of Microsoft Corporation, I'd still be hacked off about having the upgrade forced on me like that. And as it happens, it doesn't promise any of those things.

Confirmed: How to stop Windows 10 forcing itself onto PCs – your essential guide

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Re: Paying for Windows 10 after July

If you're honestly suggesting that W10 users will find their machines bricked if they don't pay a subscription to use Windows after July - I'll take your bet, thank you.

Microsoft has done some research and some calculations, and figured out what it's costing them to support half a billion Windows users on obsolescent versions of the platform. Hence the drive to get everyone to upgrade. It's not altruism on their part, but neither is it a huge conspiracy - it's just good business sense. And, of course, all that huge bulk of telemetry data will make support even better...

veti Silver badge

I don't get it... people are seriously recommending installing a third party utility that hacks your registry, as a more secure alternative to simply hacking it yourself?

Maybe GWX Control Panel is completely benign and does exactly what it says on the tin. And maybe it will continue to be so through all future updates. But even in this best of all possible cases - for the most clueless user that you remotely care about, is this really the precedent you want them to take on board?

UK energy minister rejects 'waste of money' smart meters claim

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Re: Software update required

Every household in the UK is going to be running the same type of meters with the same software?

And it won't be programmed or tested to cope with something that everyone has known about for decades, and smart meters in other countries have - well, have never yet failed to take in their stride?

Well, in that case it's a good job that the rollout isn't scheduled to happen all in one year, because when it first strikes only a small percentage of households will be affected. Phew, good bullet dodging there.

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Re: Well DUH!

The EU is a scapegoat, no more. That's why it's so much more popular with politicians than it is with the public - because the public blames it for a lot of what the politicians do, but the politicians know that without it they'd have to take that blame themselves.

The EU may have mandated smart meters, and it may or may not have been egged on by .gov.uk to do that. But it certainly didn't mandate "by far the most complex rollout in the world".

veti Silver badge

Re: I think it *will* be a ghastly mess

The conspiracy is in imagining that people will be disconnected arbitrarily at the behest of Big Brother, rather than just - as they are now - by their power company for not paying their bill. That does seem, to me, to be delusional claptrap.

Note, I'm not saying it's not a ghastly mess. Most government technology initiatives are. But the level of hysteria and paranoia visible in this thread are truly - well, they're approaching Texan levels.

How hard can it be to kick terrorists off the web? Tech bosses, US govt bods thrash it out

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Re: Two issues here.

It's an approach taken by a minority who cannot, through persuasion or direct force, achieve their aims. They therefore attempt to scare (terrorize) ordinary people so much that those people do what the minority wants, out of fear of the consequences.

Where do you draw the line between "persuasion" and "terrorism"? Some examples:

- "If you don't stop burning so many fossil fuels, growing areas of the world will become uninhabitable and the resulting mass migrations of people will lead to World War Three"

- "If you don't drive on the correct side of the road, you will very likely suffer a head-on collision and die"

- "If you don't do what my holy book says you should, you will go to Hell"

- "If you don't buck up your ideas and work harder, I'll fire you"

One possible divider would be that terrorists don't just warn, they threaten - it's not just "these things will happen because of impersonal laws beyond our direct control", but "we will do these things to you". But even so, the last of these examples looks like terrorism.

Where would you draw the line?

ANN-IE-LATION: Microsoft to axe support for older Internet Explorer next week

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Re: Nice thoughts from them.. NOT.

IE11 is a pretty solid browser. Apart from the compulsory Flash support, at least (which can be disabled, if you try hard enough). I'd prefer it to Chrome.

Disclaimer: I haven't tried Edge.

ISPs: UK.gov should pay full costs of Snooper's Charter hardware

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Re: Depressing.

"The previous Labour gov was Blairite" - true enough, but the current non-Blairite Labour opposition is pretty squarely behind Ms May on this.

Labour - all flavours - are instinctively every bit as authoritarian as the Tories. The SNP last year talked a big game about defeating the charter (out of sheer anti-Tory spite as far as I can make out, there's not a principle among the lot of 'em) - but that would require Labour's co-operation as well as Tory defections, so really they're just blowing smoke.

veti Silver badge

Re: What we need

... at which point, the spec will be rewritten, a new project manager appointed, and another ten billion thrown into it. And that will leave us... how much better off, exactly?

I guess the upside is that it'll never work. But it'll have all the downsides of "working" anyway.

veti Silver badge

Re: "UK.gov should pay"

If every ISP put a line item in your bill "Expenses related to government spying" - nobody would notice. For statistical values of "nobody", at least.

Trust me on this, I've produced a lot of utility bills. And I'm here to tell you, the great majority of customers only ever look at the "how much you owe us" bit, and don't even realise there is a breakdown of charges on page 2.

"Costs" are a terrible way to oppose bad legislation - the signal is far too weak and too diffused. Talking about the impact on business is a little better. Talking about the impact on jobs would be better still.

Microsoft in 2016: Is there any point asking SatNad what's coming?

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Big Brother

Asking Microsoft "what's coming" has always been a mug's game.

For 20 years, the company has been pursuing its strategy of "fire and motion". They invent and promote new 'technologies', most of which will be abandoned within five years, often much less. Remember ADO.NET? RDO? Heck, Silverlight?

The primary purpose of these technologies is to distract its potential competitors from doing anything that might - well - compete with what Microsoft really cares about. All the time you spend learning and adapting to these new technologies, is time you're not spending developing features that your customers might actually give a rat's arse about.

Asking Microsoft "what's coming?" is like asking a tiger "what's for dinner?"

Watch out, er, 'oven cleaners': ICO plans nuisance call crackdown in 2016

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Re: Debt to Society

I'm willing to welcome any fine for spamming as a step in the right direction, particularly as most people who matter seem to explicitly define spam as "commercial", therefore political messages are automatically exempt. So a "paltry" £30,000 fine is approximately £30,000 more than I would expect to see handed down in such a case.

Baby steps.

And seriously, you think anyone likely to even open an unsolicited email "from the editor of the Daily Telegraph" needs telling to vote Tory?

New HTTP error code 451 to signal censorship

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Re: IETF were not persuaded is was a good use of a limited number of status codes

An automated response by the browser - sure, but only when the server or ISP tells it "Error 451".

So basically, it's just relaying a message from the web server (or, just possibly, from one of the ISPs sitting between you and the website owner). As such, it's basically a political message, and about as meaningful as any other political message you can derive from a website.

Congress strips out privacy protections from CISA 'security' bill

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Re: What fucked up approach to democracy

Yep, this is the real abomination here.

Here's a thought: when passing a law, in order for legislators' votes to count, each voter in favour should be required to read the entire thing out aloud. And make recordings of themselves doing it available on YouTube.

I realise that wouldn't be exactly riveting viewing, but it'd be an excellent go-to resource for attack ads.

Canadian live route map highlights vulnerabilities to NSA spying efforts

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Doesn't surprise me

Reminds me of the time, circa 1990, when BT showed me how phone calls were being routed. Turned out you could be calling London from Newcastle, and your call might well be routed via New York.

15 years ago, when it was still somewhat possible to trace and attack spam, I spent time poring over email headers and traceroute results. And most everything passed through the same handful of networks, mostly US. (Although China also showed a lot of backbone, even back then.)

If you don't like it, you need to build some bigger networks. And then get your local ISPs to use them. I imagine the sponsors of this study are now appealing for cash, either government or private-sector, to support such an enterprise.

Still running IE10? Not for long, says Microsoft

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Re: How many corporate pages will break

We hear this every time MS drops support for anything.

Any PHB who tells their minions to code for a specific version of any software - should know by now what they're getting into. I don't see why Microsoft should be obliged to continue indefinitely supporting its customers' bad business decisions. (And I comment as one whose until-recently employer is still developing for Silverlight, even though it was a pointless choice for them even when it was new.)

TL;DR: Screw 'em.

Is Kazakhstan about to man-in-the-middle diddle all of its internet traffic with dodgy root certs?

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Black Helicopters

I'm pretty sure the Russians, as well as GCHQ, NSA and the rest of them, have thought about this one long ago. Heck, they've probably got draft proposals sitting in a drawer somewhere.

But they've all rejected it as either too blatant, or just plain unnecessary. GCHQ, I know, don't give a damn' about HTTPS - it's no obstacle to snooping, and they're not interested in censorship, so it doesn't concern them.

(The Home Office now, that's a different story. They'd be interested in the censorship angle, if they understood it. But fortunately all that expertise is closeted away in GCHQ, who are quite happy with their "unlimited spying" remit and don't want to draw unnecessary attention by getting involved with anything higher-profile than that.)

Facebook to Belgian data cops: Block all the cookies across the web, then!

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Re: Boo hoo, Schmuckerberg

Built it wrong? No, they built it exactly the way they meant to build it.

You don't imagine that architecture was the result of honest human error, do you?

Pentagon gets green light for WAR ... of web propaganda against IS

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Re: Seriously, if you're getting your information about current affairs from YouTube,

You've got to be kidding. The "evidence" is, "these people got richer, therefore they must've been doing something dodgy, and simultaneously these dodgy things were going on, ergo they must've been doing it"? That's what passes for investigative journalism in your world?

As for "not on the news in the UK because of UK libel law" - dangit, if only there were some way of finding out what foreign newspapers were saying! Wouldn't it be nice if they could put the information somewhere, where anyone who was interested could go and pick it up, complete with references to sources? Ah well, maybe our children's children will live to see such a marvel.

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Re: Big reason this'll fail:

Truth can help, but it's not an automatic cure-all. There are rules you need to follow.

Make it clear that everything you say is subjective. Everything. Don't just "tell us the truth is the truth because it's from Authority". Tell us how you know it. Tell us what you, personally, saw and were told, and who showed and told you it. By all means comment on the reliability or otherwise of your sources, but make it clear that this too is a subjective judgment on your part.

That way, if it later turns out that the things you reported were not true, you personally haven't lied to us - you've merely relayed a lie told to you by someone else. And since you made it clear at the time that's what you were doing, your reputation is still intact.

It's very tempting, as a journalist, to claim credit for Uncovering The Truth, getting "exclusives" and "exposes". But the sad fact is that approximately 90% of the "exclusives" and "exposes" you see in the press were hand-fed to them by someone who was being paid to promote a particular point of view, and then they suckered some journalist into putting their own name on it.

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That would be testimony to the fact that Putin is taking online propaganda seriously, and has been for some time. The Russians support a substantial body of full-time nerds, to make sure all anti-western talking points get a good airing on YouTube and everywhere else they can reach.

Seriously, if you're getting your information about current affairs from YouTube, you are going to get a very strange view of the world. It has all the disadvantages of old-fashioned journalism, but without the reputational bias and quality control.

It's sad. We've successfully (and correctly) taught people to be sceptical of what they read in the press and "official" channels - but when those same people see YouTube comments, they take them as undisputed truth. There's a moral in that somewhere.

Open source Gov.UK is 'example of UK soft power'

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Re: Trail blazers

Given that a shiny, brand-new steam locomotive in Babbage's day would set you back about £1500, and its counterpart today is somewhere between £1 and 2 million - even the amounts haven't changed that much.

Babbage spent the Victorian equivalent of £170 million, on what was basically a two-person project.

Irish electricity company threatens to cut off graveyard

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Re: Not only in Ireland

If a retailer in South Australia isn't giving you at least 5.3c/kWh for solar energy you feed back into the grid, they're breaking the law.


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Re: Not only in Ireland

Wonga is the wrong comparator.

Your electricity company probably gives you a "prompt payment discount" if you pay your bill within the due date. So the interest rate they charge is calculable as (prompt payment discount %) per (period between invoice date and due date).

Charge them interest back at the same rate. That's fair.

Europe didn't catch the pox from Christopher Columbus – scientists

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Re: Don't forget the chocolate!

You're just trying to goad someone into asking "what's yaws?", aren't you?

And as for your last point - you're telling us that we can also thank Columbus for diabetes?

Terrorists seek to commit deadly 'cyber attacks' in UK, says Chancellor Osborne

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Surely the correct answer is to ensure that vital national infrastructure has sufficiently hard defences, and sufficient redundancy, that it can't be successfully attacked online.

If we don't have that redundancy and security - if hacking a substation somewhere really would endanger lives - then we've got bigger problems than cyber-security. 'Cuz substations fail all the time, for reasons that have nothing to do with terrorism.


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