* Posts by veti

3086 posts • joined 25 Mar 2010

Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

veti Silver badge

The trouble with that is, if you just take, say, 5% of the respondents who tell you "Labour" and assign them to another bucket instead - how the hell can you justify your methodology as anything more than "totally making it up as you go along"?

The best-case result from that would be one pollster applying a factor of 5%, another 6%, another 3%... and over time, one of them would come out closer to correct than the others. But of course the "correct" factor probably varies over time too, so basically you'd be back to square one.

No, I'm sure there's a methodology change that would correct the problem, but "just switching a proportion of the results because you assume one side is being under-represented" isn't it.

veti Silver badge

I've been looking for this comment.

Think about the economic incentives here. Pollsters get paid when someone commissions a poll. That "someone" is usually a media outlet.

Media outlets get paid when they generate traffic. They generate traffic by telling an exciting, tense story.

So both these groups are incentivised to make the result look closer than it is.

I'm not suggesting they'd commit deliberate fraud to that end. But I'm sure that there are things about their methodology that they're not addressing, because it would be against their own short-term self-interest to do so. Survation's admission seems to confirm that.

The greatest evil in the world is advertising. If we could just find a way to end that, once and for all, then maybe our media would start to work for us.

'Rombertik' malware kills host computers if you attempt a cure

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Re: Sneaky Buggers!

Just what I was thinking: "That's not a virus, that's a screensaver written in GW-Basic".

Windows 10 bombshell: Microsoft to KILL OFF Patch Tuesday

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I've never quite understood that justification.

How much meaningful compatibility testing can a sysadmin actually do? Granted, they should have better-than-anyone-else knowledge of what software is in use within the company, but they know next to nothing of the day-to-day use cases for that software, let alone the edge cases.

Example: I use a piece of software that outputs documentation, using MS Word. When Office was upgraded from 2010 to 2013, this software broke. Not immediately - it only breaks when outputting a large (>300 page) document, and it took me several days of experimentation (and some months of exploring workarounds and compromises) to be sure of the cause. Sysadmins didn't have a clue about that, and I wouldn't expect them to - their role is limited to "giving me the option to roll back to Office 2010". (Which they did, when I moaned loudly enough.)

So sysadmins sit and test every patch in a Windows release? Yeah, right. Sounds more likely to me that they'll boot up every program once, then spend another hour on tech news sites looking for people whinging about functionality broken by the update.

veti Silver badge

Re: Just like Windows Phone

Windows Phone 7 was released in October 2010, and supported until October 2014. That's four years, for those following at home. Windows Phone 8 was released in October 2012 - if you bought a Win 7 phone after that, you have only yourself to blame. So you should have had a minimum of two years' full support.

All WP8 phones can be upgraded to WP8.1, which MS promises to support until July 2017, in case you don't feel like taking advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 before then.

There's a lot you can criticise Microsoft for, but they do take extended support seriously.

New Windows 10 will STAGGER to its feet, says Microsoft OS veep

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Re: This:

I've been using Windows 8 for 18 months now on my phone, about 2 months on my desktop. (8.1, that is, of course.)

And I love it. On the desktop, the boot time alone is worth the upgrade. For the first time since DOS, I've got a computer that boots, near as I can recall, as fast as DOS did. (But unlike DOS, I don't need to choose between six different config settings at boot, depending on what I want to run today.)

It has no third-party AV or firewall, the internal tools do those jobs just fine. I've installed a couple of hundred gigs of software on it from downloads and discs, and never paid a dime through the MS app store. And I haven't yet found anything from XP days that won't run on it, with a minimal amount of crowbarring.

Just sayin'. Obviously haters gonna hate, but be aware there is such a thing as a contented W8 user.

Kill all geoblocks says Internet Society of Australia

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Good luck with that

No, seriously. I sincerely hope the idea catches on. It strikes me as 100% correct.

But I have a strong feeling that the ink on the TPPA has been dry for at least a year now, and changes like this should have been mooted circa 2009 if they were going to have a chance.

Airbus to sue NSA, German spies accused of swiping tech secrets

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Re: Easier way

On an engineering level - yes, I'm sure Boeing already knows how to do everything Airbus does (for statistical values of "everything", there may be some fringe technologies outlying for all I know, but I strongly suspect Boeing doesn't care about those). That's not the point.

The two companies are commercial rivals, not technological ones. Knowledge of Airbus's manufacturing processes, its bidding process, or its internal costs would give Boeing a very sharp edge in bidding for new contracts.

Turnbull's Digital Transformation Office is actually working!

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Underwhelming claim proves underwhelming thesis

"App matches guidelines that were developed alongside it" - isn't really evidence that the guidelines are "working", merely that at least one person in the organisation was paying some attention. (Which is, admittedly, something. But not a lot.)

I could write a diary of my work on a development project, then when I'd finished the project, publish the diary as "guidelines for development", and then behold! - my project would conform to my guidelines! But that wouldn't prove much about the general worth of those guidelines.

Macroviruses are BACK and are the future of malware, says Microsoft

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"nearly 501,240 unique machines"?

That's an awfully precise number to be described as "nearly". Did they explain how they arrived at it? Couldn't they have said "around 500,000" and been at least as accurate, since clearly there's some assumptions going on here anyway?

But honestly... as surely Microsoft is well aware, any security that can be circumvented by the user, will be. Social engineering remains the oldest hack in the book, it's never been patched and it still works. Users have been extensively trained to click "Allow" for too many spurious alerts.

You've got to stop giving people functionality that will only be used against them. If that means they can't make their Word documents auto-populate, or perform a song and dance routine appropriate to the current weather conditions or something - then too frickin' bad, they'll just have to use another application if they want that to happen, which is what they should be doing anyway.

This is Sparta? No - it's Microsoft Edge, Son of Internet Explorer

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Re: "be available on one billion devices"

It's certainly possible.

Count in:

- All Windows phones sold in the past 3 years. That's in the ballpark of 30 million a year, so call it 90 million.

- All Windows PCs currently running Windows 7 or later. Practically, that probably means almost all PCs purchased since mid-2009. Given that the average depreciation period of a PC is considerably less than six years, that's probably well over 75% of all business desktops in the world.

Range Rover Sport: Like a cathedral on wheels, only with comfier pews

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Is El Reg bidding to replace Top Gear now, or what?

What is the REAL value of your precious, precious data?

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Who owns data about me?

The European philosophy is based on the assumption that, by default, I own data about me. That's explicitly spelled out in the European data protection directives, and in parallel laws across the EU.

The American philosophy is that the data belongs to whoever takes the trouble to gather it.

The difference becomes stark when you consider this question, "how do you attach a market value to information?" If I own my data, then Google should be approaching me openly and asking how much I'd be willing to part with, and what I'd ask in return for it. That's why you now see those "cookie" notifications all over the web. But if the collector owns it, there's no need for them to do that - they can just set up their surveillance infrastructure and watch me all day long, and that's that.

But Tim, here, is conflating these two approaches. "Value to me" of my data - is for me to say. If I can't exploit it myself, it doesn't automatically follow that it's "valueless" to me. I don't anticipate getting a lot of money for my 1-year-old child either, but that doesn't mean she rightfully belongs to some hypothetical trafficker who could get a good price for her.

The "value to Google" of my data is something else entirely. Economically, it's almost certainly worth more to them than it is to me, and they can probably on-sell it much more profitably than I can, because they add value to it by combining it with data from a billion other people. But that doesn't automatically make it "theirs".

You might as well argue "the contents of your fridge would be more valuable to someone sleeping rough than they are to you, therefore they are the rightful owners of that food". No, they're not. That's not how "ownership" works.

Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

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It's hard to make a case like this, because Google returns different results to different people. If I type "buy ping pong balls" into Google, the results I get will be quite different from the results someone else gets.

The difference depends on (a) where you are (which country), (b) whether you're logged in to any Google service, and (c) whether there are Google cookies on your machine (and let's face it, unless you've taken extraordinary measures to prevent it, there are). Google's rankings are kept opaque - purposely, because that's the only way it can work, but as always with secrecy, it makes abuse incredibly hard to investigate.

veti Silver badge

Re: So....

Even at the height of the Browser Wars, Microsoft never had a monopoly that wasn't contestable. Linux first appeared in 1991: there was nothing to stop you from setting up your own computer manufacturing company, selling machines with Linux (or BeOS, or OS/2, or nothing at all) installed, and never paying Microsoft a dime.

It was only if you wanted to use Microsoft's product that you had to pay their tax.

How is that different from Tim's argument about Google?

Crap ad app hack hole affects '100 MEELLLION'

veti Silver badge

Another good reason for Windows Phone

How many WinPhone apps have more than 100k downloads?

Ad-blocking is LEGAL: German court says Ja to browser filters

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Re: Out of control

The trouble is, people have been saying that any time these 15 years... and yet here we are.

Experience, which knows more about this subject than you, me and everyone else here put together, says that these tactics do, in fact, work, for values of "work" that translate to "allow some filthy parasite somewhere to eke out a pitiful existence underneath whatever slime-encrusted rock they use to shelter from the searing light of day, when otherwise they might have to get out and actually do something constructive with their lives."

Loose lips slip when Windows 10 ships: 'End of July' says AMD CEO

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Re: What happened to waiting until a product was ready?

Yes, but then we invented "computers that can do more than one thing at a time" and "software that's too long to type in line by line from a listing in a magazine".

Complexity is the villain here, but it's inevitable if you want to be able to, y'know, actually do much of anything with the computer.

veti Silver badge

Early, buggy release = fewer giveaways

Remember how MS promised that upgrades to W10 would be free to W7 and W8 users "for the first year after release"?

Releasing the new OS in a, frankly, barely-beta-worthy condition, may be seen by some factions in Redmond as a way to keep the takeup down, and thus encourage more people to... pay for the product later.

Yeah, it's stupid and it'll damage their already-tarnished brand still further. But because of the factionalism and infighting within MS, that's how it unfolds sometimes. This sort of passive-aggressive "compromise" is exactly how the brand became so tarnished in the first place.

Right now, I'm running Windows 8.1 - and contrary to all my expectations, I love it. Easily the best version since XP, beats the heck out of Windows 7. It'll take either unanimously stellar reviews, or the promise of a substantially enlarged support window (8.1 expires in January 2023 - extend that to 2027, and we'll talk) to persuade me to upgrade to 10.

Ex-Windows designer: Ballmer was dogmatic, Sinofsky's bonkers, and WinPho needs to change

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I don't get the hate

Windows 8.1 on a mobile is a perfectly lovely OS. As good as iOS, better than Android (battery life, basically, although I personally also prefer the interface). The only drawback, and it's a big one, is the shortage of decent apps for it.

I think its failure in the US market has been mostly about marketing. From what I hear, you just can't buy a Windows phone in huge swathes of America. Over here they're easy to come by, and they've got a respectable (double-digit) market share.

Australia mulls dumping the .com from .com.au – so you can bake URLs like chocolate.gate.au

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Re: Chris must need more cigars

Presumably some Australian off-license chain would register 'br.au', and then how they choose to sell the sub-brands is up to them.

At least, subject to the inevitable trademark suits from their rightful owners, obviously.

Verizon to world: STOP opening dodgy phishing emails, FOOLS

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Re: One thing is very interesting

There are plenty of valid reasons why the "reply-to" address may be different from the "from" address. And anyway, if you insist on making an issue of it, both of those headers are trivially easy to set to whatever you want.

What we really want to police is (a) executable attachments (obviously), and (b) links. There's been some progress on both these fronts. For instance, Outlook will no longer open a link embedded in an email just because you preview, or even open, the email - you have to either tell it to download external content, or click on the link manually. That's a step in the right direction.

Executable attachments are harder, but Windows 8 is making progress even on that front - Windows Defender and SmartScreen are pretty good, as far as they go.

But honestly, there's only so far you can go with technology. Microsoft is in a bind because it's committed - still - to the idea that you can do anything with a PC. (Unlike, say, an iPad, whose main selling point is that you can't do that, and therefore there's so much less to worry about.) That means that, sooner or later, the user must be able to bypass your security. And as we all know, if they can do it, they will.

WikiLeaks reveals searchable trove of Sony Pictures documents

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There's a lot of echo chamber on the Internet about the charges against Assange, but as far as I can make out "the truth", they're what we in the XML world would call "well formed", which is to say that there is most certainly a case to answer, the correct legal forms have been followed, and Assange should by rights be presenting his case to a Swedish court, not in the form of tweets and press releases.

As for "plenty of evidence" - rubbish. The UK is far more in bed with the US than Sweden is, and if Assange really feels the UK is a better shield than Sweden, he could simply request that the UK veto any re-extradition from Sweden to the US, which it would be within its rights to do.

(Usually at this point someone will mutter "extraordinary rendition". Which would be something to worry about, if only Assange weren't a public figure whose movements will be obsessively followed by a hundred journalists. If he suddenly disappeared from Sweden without due process - well, frankly the Swedish government would be lucky to make it to the end of the week.)

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Nice to see Wikileaks is still in business. Hard as it is to sympathise with Assange, it's a damn' sight harder to see any case for supporting Sony...

Who runs this world? Sony Pictures CEO jokes about getting UK culture minister fired

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Re: Totally unsurprising

This is true in every political system (at least, every one that's ever been used on any scale larger than a small village). Certainly not unique to the UK.

But you'll note the whole thing is a joke, and the respondent even points out that he'd need to be in Parliament before it could work. In that respect at least, the UK is significantly more democratic than, for instance, the USA.

WHAT did GOOGLE do SO WRONG to get a slapping from the EU?

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Re: [email protected]'s a Guinness

Why do so many people jump straight into commenting without reading the article?

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Re: but...

If you're looking for specs, manuals etc, then add those words to your search terms. Do you really need to be told this stuff?

If you're looking for best prices, on the other hand, that's a completely different search.

veti Silver badge

Did nobody here even read the fine article?

It's not about being the best search engine. Google is that, for values of "best" that seem good enough for most people. No question.

It's about not being the best in other fields, then leveraging their search engine prowess to screw over their competitors in those fields. And if you doubt for a moment that Google has been doing that, I've got an internet to sell you.

Life after Nokia: Microsoft Lumia 640 budget WinPho blower

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Fact check?

I don't know where you got your Nokia Lumia 520, but mine certainly features automatic brightness control. One of its best features.

Mind, I have often pondered how it works, what with not having a camera on the front. There's no apparent light sensor, either. And if it used the camera on the back, it would dim when laid down flat on a desk, and that doesn't happen. So there's something mighty suspicious going on in there.

Aw, snap! How huge HTML links can crash Chrome tabs in one click

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When did any Google beta ever end?

Serious question. As far as I can tell, Google software goes direct from "beta" to "retired", without ever entering a state varyingly called "stable" or "released" or whatever the heck lying term the company is trying to insinuate translates to "fit for purpose".

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Re: Just out of interest, how aggressive is Chrome's pre-fetching?



Operation Redstone: Microsoft preps double Windows update in 2016

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Re: Windows-as-a-Service

Say what you like about MS, but they didn't get where they are today by being completely dumb...

I presume the 'as a service' pill will be coated with something really quite tasty, at least from the corporate point of view. Unlimited online storage, "free" Office bundles, access to a bunch of otherwise-paywalled resources...

As for the home user... I think their current plan is to abandon the Regular Home Non-Power User to tablets and phones. We've seen "Games for Windows", which was an effort to bring lots of formerly independent producers into their empire; from there, it should be relatively straightforward to ensure that the writing of AA-games for the desktop environment basically dries up.

Most top corporates still Heartbleeding over the internet

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What is a "top 2000 global organisation"

... and where do I apply to become one?

I looked through the linked PDF, and there's not a word that actually defines what the term means. Only when you get to the references, is there a pointer to Forbes.com's "global 2000", which I'm guessing means that's the answer.

And of course, most of those companies are multinationals. So these industrious hackers have been "testing" and discovering that servers in different countries, but belonging to the same companies, are in different states of patchedness. A server belonging to HyperGlobalMegaNetCorp in Germany is more likely to be patched than one in Australia.

So much for globalisation...

Council of Europe: Don't spy on your staff, you naughty employers

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Re: Uh ... duh.

Hey, it's your choice. You want me to bugger off for an hour to get my personal business done outside the office, or spend 10 minutes at my desk to accomplish the same thing before getting back to work?

Sensible companies don't care how much you "dick around online", so long as you get your work done to a satisfactory standard and timescale.

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Re: Just a little point.

It doesn't say "personal", it says "private". Totally different thing. Your business email is still private, unless you cc. it to other people.

Of course, it's entirely likely that anything you put in a business email will be forwarded and cc'd to an unpredictable number of other people without any further action or consent from you - that's to be expected, and if you suffer any harm from that, you were asking for it. But that's not the same as your employer actually clocking the number of messages and megabytes you send, to whom, when, etc.

You. FTC. Get over here. Google is INVADING our children's MINDS – anti-ad campaigners

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rules that ban media giants from blurring the line between programming and product pushing.

Seriously? Have you ever watched an episode of 'Power Rangers'? How about 'Paw Patrol'? Those "media giants" are full of it. Blurred lines, I mean.

US still hoarding zero-day app vulnerabilities, say EFF campaigners

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So to sum up...

"... We'll only hold back vulnerabilities if we think they might be useful."

Pinky swear, presumably.

I love it when bureaucrats make promises like that. You just know they've had a Full & Frank Exchange of Views with a politician somewhere, and the bureaucrat has come out firmly on top.

Put those smartphones away: Google adds anti-copying measures to Drive for Work

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So, nobody's worried about "availability" then?

"Security" is important, sure, but is nobody worried about the probably-none-too-distant day when Google requires you to pay to renew your subscription to access the documents they're holding for you? To say nothing of the premium for whatever SLA you can be mugged for.

I smell "diversion".

As El Reg astutely notes, "copying/saving" restrictions are often worked around in practice, accompanied by ritual swearing from the users who are forced to resort to these hack jobs. (I guess the restrictions make management feel better, though I'd like to see some research into the time cost imposed on users by them.) If I were Google I'd have screen capturing and freehand-note-taking features on my product roadmap by now, to make sure users are still using Google systems when they do this...

Why Feed.Me.Pizza will never exist: Inside the world of government vetoes and the internet

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Overriding economic interests

I suspect that domain names are one of Montenegro's biggest exports.

Another country in the same happy position (at least it should be, but I think they don't exploit it as well as they could) is Tuvalu (.tv).

Google whacks CREEPY predictive search up to 11 in cheap Chrome OS beta

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A concierge who follows you from hotel to hotel, and even home afterwards, is called a 'valet'.

HTH, HAND etc.

Forum chat is like Clarkson punching you repeatedly in the face

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Re: Dabbsy's article isn't about (was Huh? A new Godwin's Law?

Godwin's Law isn't about Nazis, or even talking about them. It's about escalation.

And to fulfil it, it's not sufficient just to mention the words "Nazi" or "Hitler". You specifically have to make a comparison involving one of them.

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Re: Service? Industry?

Of course the hotel wouldn't, and shouldn't be expected to, keep staff on unless they were paid to do so.

But really that just goes back to the BBC being cheapskate. What was the per-episode cost for Top Gear? You'd have a hard time to make me believe that it couldn't afford another 10 grand to the hospitality budget, without seriously denting its profitability.

It's fairly typical of Public Service thinking that the BBC is willing to pay through the nose for "talent", but try to get it to shell out a few hundred for a decent meal (I'm assuming you need to feed all 3 presenters, off-hours, in a remote location) - and you'll be up to your neck in auditors for the next six months.

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Re: Not on

I wonder how long before they can fill an entire channel with repeats of now-disgraced presenters? Stuart Hall, John Leslie, Jimmy Savile, Jezza...

Hated biz smart meter rollout: UK.gov sticks chin out, shuts eyes

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Re: @ zebthecat -- I don't get it at all.

So much paranoia. So little information.

Hackers turning off your power? Yeah well, all I can tell you is that with a worldwide installed base of almost half a billion of the things so far (reference), this doesn't seem to have happened yet. Maybe their security is better than you give it credit for.

Utilities turning off your power at whim? There are strict laws about the steps they have to go through before they're allowed to do that, and those steps are the same no matter what kind of meter you have. If they can bypass those with a smart meter, they could have done the same with the old kind. The big difference is that, by making the switchoff process simpler, it's easier for the utilities to follow an (auditably) consistent process.

"Keeping a few more folk employed"? That's pure Luddite logic. People who are employed doing a job that doesn't need to be done are effectively on corporate welfare, with the added requirement that they have to waste time (and petrol) still doing this non-work.

Google Glass NOT DEAD. We're just making it 'ready' says chief

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Re: The media had it all wrong

So why has it taken Google so long to correct their "mistake"?

Sounds to me like they've only just made up their own mind, and now they're trying to spin it as "no, this was our plan all along".

We need copyright reform so Belgians can watch cricket, says MEP

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Re: It is also a means for optimal distribution of works,

"Optimal" is always a weasel word, and I will automatically distrust anyone who uses it. Of course, I'll use it myself on occasion...

It's what you say if you want to make it sound as if you're advocating for something to be "the best it can be", but what you really want is to head off any discussion of what "best" means. In this context, I guess the question he's trying to avoid is "optimal for whom?"

Pi(e) Day of the Century is upon us! Time to celebrate 3/14/15 in style, surely?

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Couldn't wait, huh?

Even by American date-writing conventions - next year's "March 14th" will be closer to accurate. Unless you're in the habit of rounding down from ".9".

'There is NO SUCH THING as a safe site anymore' – security bod

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WTF is a "safe site", anyway? One whose owner you trust completely, who includes no ads, iFrames or other content hosted elsewhere, no tracking code, and who uses https:// - would be about as good as you could get.

But even they'd be vulnerable to having their domain confiscated by some asshat who claims that it "supports terrorism" or "is confusingly similar to my trademark".

Sir Terry remembered: Dickens' fire, Tolkien's imagination, and the wit of Wodehouse

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I'd say it's more apt than the comparison to "Tolkein"...

Both (Pratchett and Dickens) were passionate about injustice. Both could be, by turns, sharply witty and satirical, and interminably preachy, particularly in their later works. Both were hugely popular, celebrities in their own lifetime.

The only candidate I can think of who'd make a worthy third to that duo would be Mark Twain, but he's disqualified on account of being American.

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Re: Death

Death as a "comforter" is an old idea. Pterry's take on it was wonderful, but still just a new take on an old idea.

If you re-read 'The Colour of Magic', it's interesting to note that the Death in that is a very different character from what he became in the later books. I'm not sure if he ever completely forgave Rincewind for his unpunctuality.


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