* Posts by Martin Benson

41 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Apr 2006

Hacker defaces temples to OS X

Martin Benson

Not that it's relevant....

..but when I first used BASIC back in 1970 on a PDP-10 on a timesharing 30bps modem on a Teletype, it was BASIC - but only because there were no lower-case letters. Hell, we only had five-bit paper tape, and had to use figure-shift and letter shift....

But BASIC is just the name, because it was basic, and someone thought it was a good name. Anyone who tells you it's an acronym is talking out of their hat. Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code was retro-fitted later, probably in the late seventies.

Oh - and vi, without a doubt. Actually, vim is even better.

And what is this Apple thing of which you talk?

The Romantics sue Guitar Hero for sound-alike imitation

Martin Benson

re: Easy Rider....

don't you mean "the Band", not "the band" ?

Beer set to hit four quid a pint

Martin Benson

Peroni or Staropramen in pints?

You deserve to pay £4 a pint for that stuff. But how much is a pint of London Pride? or any other decent ale?

Wannabe US bank robber fails intelligibility test

Martin Benson

This all sounds a bit unlikely to me....

Consider - if the teller couldn't understand him and if the "robber" got frustrated and left, then how on earth do we even know that it even happened?

Ukrainian eBay scam turns Down Syndrome man into cash machine

Martin Benson

Perhaps I'm being cynical....

...but for heaven's sake! Why would ANYONE use eBay to purchase a seriously high value item (say, anything over a grand?). Come to that, why would anyone buy ANYTHING expensive in what is effectively a private sale between two individuals? Even if the item itself is not fraudulent, and even if the person was selling it in good faith, you've still got absolutely no comeback if it goes wrong.

Oh yes. I know. You save a bit of money, but with a bit of increased risk.

I may sound a bit harsh, but as far as I'm concerned, if you buy from eBay, then you are taking an increased risk in return for a possible bargain. Losing your money is part of that increased risk.

Sorry, but caveat emptor. It should be written in HUGE LETTERS on the front of eBay. It's a great service, and the idea of shutting down eBay because some people get scammed is on a par with closing the Exchange and Mart magazine for the same reason.

People forget. Ebay doesn't buy or sell. It provides a service (at a cost) to bring buyer and seller together. And I for one am getting sick of the whinging so-and-so's who want to get a bargain on eBay but are not prepared to accept the increased risk in trying to get that bargain.


Satanic car key traps 12 motorists in car park of horror

Martin Benson


...isn't this a RoTM article?

It's nothing to do with a malfunction - it was a deliberate attempt by that car to lock people into their cars, where they would never escape....MWAA-HAA-HAA-HAA!

Woman admits fleecing shopping network of more than $412,000

Martin Benson

The law is quite clear about this....

...at least in the UK, and I'd be surprised if it wasn't the same in the US.

If someone sends you something you didn't ask for, you are NOT entitled to keep it just like that. You should contact the sender and ask them to collect it or enable you to send it back at their expense. If you do this, and ensure you've kept records of your request, then - assuming they don't bother to collect it or send you a mailing label - after a certain time limit (I think it's six months) you can keep it.

What you CAN'T do is just keep it and say - hey, it's their mistake. That's theft. Just like if the bank make a transfer into your account by accident, you can't keep it.

Facebook sued for mis-sending dirty texts

Martin Benson

RE:How can something be Obscure AND Graphic at the same time?

Have you never seen any pictures by Jackson Pollock?

But I agree, they wouldn't translate well to SMS...

eBay employee 'torpedos' fraud trial

Martin Benson

There is some ridiculous tosh in the comments here...

The vast majority of them seem to be "I was scammed, so eBay is crap". Has no-one ever explained that anectodal evidence proves absolutely nothing at all? The worst is the person who claimed that "eBay fraud is more the rule than the exception". Funny that - I have a feedback rating of 300+ with no negs or neutrals, and I have only had reason to give out a neutral rating twice (and no negatives). Doesn't sound like the rule rather than the exception to me. And I tell you what, the proportion of good experiences I've had is significantly BETTER than my experience in most retail shops.

You've got to remember where you're shopping. If you go down the local market, you don't expect the same sort of experience as you get at Harrods.


Museum drops Watson talk in race row

Martin Benson

This argument is not new....

Eysenck and Jensen came out with the work that led to this sort of statement, based on "intelligence" tests in the mid-seventies. The work has been seriously discredited; what it came down to was in the US, black people tend to come from less well educated homes, and as a result, their scores were lower. Further, if my memory serves me correctly, the amounts of "less intelligent" came out to something less that 5 points on the IQ scale - not really a huge difference - and certainly not enough for a suggestion that "people who have to deal with black employees find [them to be less intelligent]".

And people have, in the past, tried to prove that women are less intelligent than men - and yes, men have scored higher in the tests they used. Again, this was due to the fact that women were not as well educated as men in the past. There's no evidence now that women are less intelligent than men; in fact, if school work is anything to go by, the reverse is more likely to be true!

Someone said above that if he can back these statements up with science, he should be able to state them. But the science ISN'T there. He's just spouting prejudices. Unfortunate, but there it is.

Fifty years since Sputnik

Martin Benson

oh, dear - a moon-hoax aficionado...


If you can read this site and STILL put forward the suggestion that Man hasn't landed on the moon, then I for one will not be wasting my time arguing with you.

Kiwi boffins prove that booze makes you clever

Martin Benson

@Matt Eagles

>>I'm just waiting for experiments that prove that alcohol makes me much funnier and attractive to the opposite sex.

That's already been scientifically proved. It's just that the members of the opposite sex have to drink the alcohol, rather than you.

Judge parks 172mph Porsche driver for 10 weeks

Martin Benson

@anonymous - what he did IS a serious crime.

"But I suppose serious crimes like driving obviously requires a "lets make an example of him" custodial sentence."

You seriously think that driving along a dual carriageway (not even a motorway) at 172mph doesn't deserve a jail sentence? He's travelling at 84 yards a second. If someone travelling at seventy decides to pull into the same lane as him, he's still going at a ton relative to that car - if the car is fifty yards away, he'll run into the back of him in a second.

He's a bloody lunatic who deserves to be put away.

UK online gambling regs go live tomorrow

Martin Benson

Winning at gambling is always a matter of choosing the right opponents...!

I think it was Steve Davis (he of the snooker) who said that the best advice he could give any student was to supplement their income by playing on-line poker late at night. You're bright and sober, and you're up against people who are generally dumb and drunk.

No data protection exemption for YouTube baby battle video

Martin Benson

I probably shouldn't have commented in the first place...

...but I don't actually see what I did to deserve personal insults (from brave Anon!)...

And anecdotal evidence like "My brother's uncle's friend had this problem and they were just useless" is no more evidence for Social Services being totally incompetent than "My brother's uncle's friend once saw a spook" is evidence for the supernatural.

Oh, and yes, I am a parent and yes, I do know more than a bit about the court system.

Martin Benson

leslie - do you read the Daily Mail?

A typical Middle-England knee-jerk reaction.

Social Services wreck families by taking children from their parents

Except when they don't take a child away, and it gets harmed

In which case, they are incompetent and should have done a better job

But they can't have any more resources as it's our tax-payers money...

You know, I don't think that Social Services would make a court order to remove an unborn child from its mother unless they had a damn good reason to do so. And they also have to persuade the court that they have a damn good reason.

Dolphins abandon Bay of Biscay

Martin Benson

Could we have a little calm, please?

Just because the dolphins are leaving, there's no need to be rude about the "no IT angle" poster....it's not his fault.

Seriously, he's entitled to post and you're entitled to comment on him. But referring to him as a whiner and an idiot is just unnecessarily offensive. Sort of thing I see on footy forums, but I don't expect to see here.

Could Linux become the dominant OS?

Martin Benson

Dominant on the desktop? Dream on....

The bald assertion that Linux will become dominant on the desktop eventually is just wishful thinking. Perhaps at home, but never in the office.

And the main reason for this is Microsoft Excel. Huge numbers of people in offices have fairly complex spreadsheets which they need to do their jobs. I have found from experience that even a slightly complex spreadsheet (doesn't even need to have macros) will not convert to Open Office without a LOT of work. The sheer number of spreadsheets that will have to be converted to Open Office and then thoroughly tested is immense.

It ain't gonna happen.

A-Level figures hint at physics recovery

Martin Benson

There's all the point in the world!

I have a degree in Mathmatical Physics which I took, not because I expected to be a physicist, but because I was interested in the subject.

The vast majority of jobs for graduates don't actually care two hoots what your degree is in, so long as you demonstrate a good attitude and intelligence.

How many people who study Philosophy go on to become philosophers? How many people who study History go on to become historians? How many people who study English go on to jobs where their degree is directly useful?

If you can get a job as a physicist, all well and good. But if not, go and work for a bank or an insurance company or anyone else - if you've got a first or a 2:1, and persuade them you want to work for them, they'll be interested in you.

And in the meantime - if you really love physics - go and do a degree in the subject. It's fascinating.

Motorbike crash man fails to notice loss of leg

Martin Benson

Groan III

Sure it's not an urban leg-end?

Yangtze river dolphin is an ex-cetacean

Martin Benson

re: So? and So? again

You seem to be suggesting that as the earth is doomed in the long term, we might as well not bother to preserve what we have in the short term.

Isn't that a bit like saying "Well, I'm going to die in the long term, so I might as well not bother to eat healthily and exercise"?

Of course, if you are an overweight alcoholic couch potato who smokes 80 a day, then fair enough.

JP Morgan's iPhone Nano report is rubbish

Martin Benson

Do we need the slanging match?

Don't see much point in moderation if people can still end up in slanging matches.

So far, we've had one person call another a "retard" in response to a suggestion that his behaviour was idiotic....

Look - if you have a useful or entertaining comment, make it. If you don't like stories about iPhones, don't read them.

But surely you all must have better things to do that throw childish insults at each other, or make pointless posts which don't move things on?

(And that probably applies to me too. But I felt a small protest at the slanging match was in order.)

Deal struck on the phone is binding, rules High Court

Martin Benson

yer what?

"The verbal agreement did not have to be in writing, the court found."

Isn't the whole point of a verbal agreement that it's not in writing??

Anyway, this case seems to indicate that, despite Sam Goldwyn's assertion, a verbal contract IS worth the paper it's written on.

ICT cast down into the eternal fires of hell

Martin Benson


Flight Management System? False Memory Syndrome? Flash Media Server?

I dunno, none of those seem to fit....

Fidelity employee steals 2.3 million consumer records

Martin Benson

A civil complaint...?

>>Certegy has filed a civil complaint against the former employee and the marketing firms they believe purchased the data.

A civil complaint? Why on earth isn't he being prosecuted? To my mind, he's as guilty of theft as if he'd stolen a truckload of laptops and flogged them.

UK Gov boots intelligent design back into 'religious' margins

Martin Benson

More than half.....

of Americans may be Creationists, but the trick is to employ more scientists as teachers and in positions of authority - eventually it'll change. And getting Bush out of office is a good start.

(re...the best run-on sentence - I would love to second the motion, if I knew what on earth it was talking about....!)

Patientline results prompt share meltdown

Martin Benson

Already exorbitant charges increase and STILL.....

...they are losing money.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the costs are so high, people are choosing not to use them.

Perhaps if the costs were comparable to a mobile phone call, and TV rental was at a similar level, people would be happy to use them - possibly even enthusiastic about them.....

...and they might actually MAKE MONEY.....

Or is that too easy?

Day-of-silence protest hits Net radio

Martin Benson

Well, I for one care!

>>Net radio is a stupid idea, and a waste of bandwidth. If people want to listen to a radio, why don't they just switch a radio on?

Well, for one thing, my radio aerial can't quite reach to the USA, where I tend to listen to a lot of my music from. Have you tried to listen to jazz on the radio in the UK?

Exams, contracts, and nuclear research: stupid, stupid, stupid

Martin Benson

More mining

I like the idea of squeezing in eleven miners - though it would actually take 4:40, not 4:20.

Alternatively, if it takes ten seconds to unload/load ten people, then it'll only take one second to load one person - right? So we can shave eighteen seconds off the seven minutes which I worked out in my head.

Oh, 52, degree in mathematical physics.

Pluto demoted again

Martin Benson

Holst's Planet Suite

When Holst wrote his suite "The Planets", it was seven movements only, and finished with "Neptune". (The Earth wasn't included.) In 2000, Colin Matthews was commissioned to add an eighth movement called Pluto, which was premiered in Manchester in May 2000, and also played at the Proms that year.

It was therefore inevitable, by Sod's Law, that Pluto would lose its designation as a planet.

Red hair bullying cases could end up in court

Martin Benson

Can't let "voshkin" go unchallenged....

Quoting from voshkin above....

"In Russia “ginger” people have it very tough. It is “widely” believed (and generally correctly) that ginger haired females are promiscuous, for example."

What!!!??? Are you really making that statement? Do you really mean what you just put there - it's generally correct to assume that if you see a ginger-haired female, she's promiscuous??? What utter garbage. You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

Come on. It's widely assumed that Russians are either drunks or mafia crooks, but it's hardly reasonable to state that it's generally correct, is it?

Kilted Debian lovers to overrun Edinburgh

Martin Benson

re: One Two Punch

Yes, very interesting Greg, (yawn) but have you tested the kilt yet?

BMW helps nail 105mph V-sign biker

Martin Benson

105mph is safe, is it?

If someone pulls out in front of you at 70, when you are doing 105, it's the same as if someone steps into the road in front of you when you're doing 35. You haven't got a chance of evading them.

On a motorway, it's bad enough. But judging by the picture, he was doing 105mph near a junction on a normal road. And he's not done it once - he's done it over and over again.

Of course it's dangerous. And I for one am delighted the police went the extra mile to nail him.

Danes 'prove' sudden iBook death syndrome

Martin Benson

Good enough....

...though Apple only came second in that survey....

Martin Benson

Apple's fault....

To Giles Jones

1) It's Apple's fault, because they sell the computers and have to take responsibility for the manufacturing fault. Who else should take the blame?

2) Apple's failure rate may well be lower than other brands - I have no evidence one way or the other. But as it's a "well established fact", I feel sure that you can point me in the direction of the evidence for your statement, can't you?

Glastonbury hippies force-fed spam

Martin Benson

You don't always have to tick a box....

It's not always about ticking a box to get marketing information - it's often the case where you have to tick a box to say "Don't send me spam".

In fact, it's got to the stage where I have to read the blurb very carefully to decide whether I need to tick. You get wonderful statements worded something like...

"SuperHippy Festivals would like to share your information with carefully screened (yeah right!) partners. If you do not wish us to not share this data then please do not tick this box."

Granny waxes lyrical in 'txt laureate' challenge

Martin Benson

Very poetic, but is it actually a poem?

No argument about the granny.

But the winner? It's very poetic language, and a nice romantic sentiment. (Though I'd have preferred "smiling" as the last word....but then, what do I know?)

But it's not a poem.

Orange doles out an IOU to Christian pareidolians

Martin Benson


Pareidolians are people who come from Pareidolia, obviously.

WEP key wireless cracking made easy

Martin Benson

Why use wireless, he asks??

"Why use wireless when wired is more secure?"

You've obviously never had a teenage daughter sitting on the settee in the front room with her laptop, surfing the web, IM-ing her friends, doing her homework and watching telly all at the same time. She'll still try to do this even with a wired network, and after you've tripped over the trailing network connection across the room for the third time, you'll get wireless too.

Trio suspended for putting 'vagina' into Monologues

Martin Benson

It's not quite as simple as that...

I was ready to send this article to my daughters, both of whom have produced this play at uni. But then I thought I'd look into it a bit further....

It was not a performance of the play. It was an "open-mic" evening, in front of an audience with several young people in it. The girls had been told that the reading that they had proposed was inappropriate (which it was - the play is definitely an adult play, and not suitable for children). They agreed not to do the reading - and then did it anyway.

I think that a day's suspension for deliberate disobedience of a principal's reasonable request is not that unreasonable.

It's not a matter of free speech. It's a matter of appropriateness at school in front of a young audience.

'Unbreakable'? Software? Harr!

Martin Benson

This has never ceased to amaze me....

It baffles me that we, the users, have been prepared to put up with "buggy" software for as long as we have. It's down to the mindset of the developer - it's more interesting to produce new stuff than to get it working.

A classic book on software testing (can't remember it's title, sorry!) had a story about a couple of hardware engineers who put together a little software program to help them with their development and testing. It became commonly used, and as far as anyone could tell, it had NO bugs. When asked how they had managed to achieve this Holy Grail, they said in a puzzled tone, "We didn't know bugs were allowed."

That's the approach developers should be taking, and should have been taking for the last thirty-five years. Bugs aren't allowed.

It's probably too late now.