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* Posts by Alan Brown

9433 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Uber jams Arizona robo-car project into reverse gear after deadly smash

Alan Brown
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Re: AV's Hindenburg?

"[Tesla] there have been three or four incidents where the vehicle did not detect large solid obstructions in its path, and did not brake or take avoiding action."

The Tesla 'autopilot' manual specifically warns that above 50mph it cannot detect stationary objects in front of it.

IE: this is something that is absolutely warned about, that drivers are told they must watch for, and yet.....

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Alan Brown
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"The circumstances of the accident were not some strange or random edge-case which caught the vehicle's logic out"

The reason it caught the vehicle's logic out is simple.

Most US State laws say that pedestrians SHALL NOT cross the road except at designated crossing points and only when authorised to do so. They also say that pedestrians MUST give way to vehicles.

Put that as-is into a programming algorithm and you have a mindless death machine waiting for a victim to walk in front of it.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"Wait another couple of decades with no additional training or monitoring of their driving behaviour and the number who know what they are doing seems to fall"

Agreed, along with the point about 360 sensors, constant attention and lack of emotions/impatience/fatigue (the single biggest cause of congestion is impatient drivers trying to jump queues and gumming things up)

Robot drivers don't have to be perfect, just better than humans. That's not a high bar and Google have already achieved it. On the other hand Uber have not.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"It was only Uber that decided not to use expensive LIDAR sensors that other manufacturers use as part of their redundancy design."

As the reports say: The sensors picked the pedestrian up just fine. The problem was in how the programming (failed to) respond.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Autonomous vehicle safety ignored

"In the one fatality that we know of from an autonomous vehicle (autonomous, not fancy cruise control) we absolutely know that the 'driving instructor' was watching their phone, not the road."

We also know that Google realised very quickly that _despite_ being told that they were safety supervisors and to pay attention at all times, the "driving instructors" were doing everything but - so they went all-out to ensure the cars were safe.

As for national regulators - they ARE overwhelingly cautious. Arizona is one of the exceptions and the US in particular is the odd one out thanks to a century of lobbying, with vehicle-centric laws and a uniquely pedestrian-hostile culture and legislation in most areas. That makes it the worst possible place to develop automated cars as assumptions which codify "pedestrians must not be here" laws turn robots into mindless killing machines where a human would (in most cases) take evasive action or stop.

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BOFH: Their bright orange plumage warns other species, 'Back off! I'm dangerous!'

Alan Brown
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Re: A bit of a tumble

"Really, I can't stop smiling..."

The thing that springs to mind is that with a bright orange PFY in a bright orange stairwell the boo would be even more startling than from a darkened corner. The second thing that springs to mind is how many seconds the H&S twit was airborne.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Excellent BOFH

"very very nearly went flying over a 'Wet Floor' yellow sandwich board. "

If you're going to put shit on the floor to warn of hazards, how about making the fucking things tall enough to be at EYE HEIGHT?

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Alan Brown
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Re: GDPR

"I'd rather they went on a road trip to Brussels and arranged an 'accident' for the shit that dreamed up GDPR in the first place."

I wouldn't. Marketers proved they couldn't be trusted to police themselves. GDPR is the result.

If you don't like it, then blame the assholes who made it necessary.

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Can't pay Information Commissioner's fine? No problem! Just liquidate your firm

Alan Brown
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"Even then, they can get 6-8 months of that going before anyone complains enough for the ICO to even notice they exist,"

Faking CLIs is something that gets OFCOM's attention. Make sure you complain to both.

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Alan Brown
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"it would appear that somebody pointed out to the ICO that they already have the power to prevent voluntary disolutions of companies"

Several somebodies.

Over several years.

Whilst the ICO stuck their fingers in their ears going "neener neener neener, it's tooo haaard!"

And there are provisions in the companies act for holding company directors personally liable for illegal acts, but the problem is that the ICO can't be arsed taking it through the courts to get a precedent that sticks.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Liquidate company to avoid paying

"My suspicion is that the directors will actually find some way of extracting money from the company before starting the insolvency proceedings, in a way that makes the company insolvent, but allows them to pocket the cash."

Any payout like that within the previous N period (6 years?) can be clawed back by the administrator and paid out to creditors.

The question is whether the ICO is a secured or unsecured creditor - and as they've said, making the directors personally liable for illegal behaviour would go a long way towards dissuading them from initiating the activity in the first place.

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Trio indicted after police SWAT prank call leads to cops killing bloke

Alan Brown
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"You may get:"

Emphasis on "may"

Unless you have an extensive criminal record and are showing no remorse you'll get something on the lenient end of the scale.

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Ongoing game of Galileo chicken goes up a notch as the UK talks refunds

Alan Brown
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Re: "the UK again reiterated its position on the project"

If it's driving off a Cliff surely it should be a clown double decker bus?

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EmDrive? More like BS drive: Physics-defying space engine flunks out

Alan Brown
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Re: The Germans don't watch youtube enough

" Nor did he invent Cinema despite his patents."

Whilst the light bulb was the result of a lot of actual work making Swan and Priestly's inventions viable, the cinema was flat-out intellectual property theft.

He even stole complete movies made by the Lumiere Brothers and claimed copyright on them.

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Alan Brown
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Re: The device is very light.

" For that they were getting a thrust that would counterbalance a desicated flea."

As long as the thrust is higher than the resisting forces holding it at rest, then you'll get acceleration and it (eventually) adds up to significant velocities.

Ion drives chew plenty of power. Their disadvantage is that they eventually run out of fuel.

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Alan Brown
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"I can tell you that people spend a lot of time worrying about the agreement or otherwise between the models and the data."

Most people. I work in a similar environment and we've caught people just inserting fudge factors to close the gap between observations and calculations instead of flagging it for further research.

Senior people were understandably furious when they found out as it meant that opportunities to improve the calculations were being lost.

On the other hand one of the more interesting discussions in the last few years was a result of 32 and 64 bit versions of the same software giving different answers. The original assumption was that one was "wrong", but the eventual answer was that they both were - the reason many generations of compounded rounding errors. Rewriting the software to not feed the results of the last orbital calculation as input to the next vastly improved accuracy and got both flavours of software giving vastly more stable solar system modelling.

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Within Arm's reach: Chip brains that'll make your 'smart' TV a bit smarter

Alan Brown
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Re: Hoodies?

"Make them from dazzle camouflage material?"

The point of Dazzle is that it only works when you have a group of objects with it (like a convoy, or a herd of zebras). An individual dazzle object has no protective effect at all.

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Microsoft, Google: We've found a fourth data-leaking Meltdown-Spectre CPU hole

Alan Brown
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"I can't quite map waiters running around with how a CPU works.."

Bistromathics

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'Facebook takes data from my phone – but I don't have an account!'

Alan Brown
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Re: I simply disable preinstalled apps that I don't want.

" not all of us want to void the warranty on a brand new phone"

Despite the FUD on this, rooting the phone does not blow the warranty on the hardware.

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Alan Brown
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Re: GDPR violation ?

5: If you disable an app, and it somehow manages to reenable itself AND install the updates you'd removed, then that's an arguable explicit removal of consent that they just rode roughshod over AND unauthorised modification of your pocket computer that just happens to make phone calls too.

Forget going after Facebook. Just go after the manufacturers and watch how fast updates start coming out.

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Alan Brown
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Re: host file?

"Although you will probably need root to get to it,"

If you don't want to root your android, then Blokada will do the trick nicely. It's available on the F-droid store (banned from Google for obvious reasons).

Incidentally, Facebook aren't the only spyware bunch coming preinstalled/unreovable. Slimy spamhaus Linkedin has their app bundled with Samsung Galaxy 9 phones and it's also non-disablable.

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Who needs NAND when rust never sleeps? Seagate dines out on nearline disk drive boom

Alan Brown
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Seagate optimism

"We would imagine that, with demand high, it can basically build me-too-and-a-little-bit-better product and grow its NAND business significantly."

On the other hand, buyers who've been held down over a barrel by Seagate and WD for the last 8 years WRT disk pricing and reliability (since the Thai floods) may take the opportunity to say "adios" to both vendors(*), given that it makes much more sense to go with a vertically integrated supplier of enterprise silicon storage than one which actually _let_ reliability fall and slashed warranty periods to the bone when it saw it could get away with it

The fact that most of the "vertically integrated suppliers" have long-term plans and are more likely to be around in a decade, (vs companies which are focussed on maximising shareholder yield per quarter even if it kills long-term customer trust) also plays into that equation.

There's no new HDD research coming down the line. The R&D labs are closed and {H/M}AMR is already years behind schedule.

(*) Yes, I know there are technically more than two, but Toshiba's share is basically just a few scraps sold off to keep the chinese competiton regulators happy.

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NAND I... will always love you, says Micron as it emits 7.68TB QLC SSD

Alan Brown
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Re: Journaling for write leveling

In terms of write-caching, these drives are a near-perfect fit for ZFS use.

Forget the L2arc (it's not needed when seek times are near-instant) and put in a high performance SLOG for ZIL - which vendors have been pushing for spinning use anyway (usually things like 8Gb ZeusRAMs, when the most data you'll ever see in a ZIL is a few hundred MB and even that's exceptional)

(We found the hardest part about ZFS was finding vendors who didn't attempt to cripple it by forcing the disk activity through some kind of RAID controller in the mistaken belief that it would improve performance or that battery backed write caches would make things more reliable. There are a lot of sub-par ZFS installations out there and traditional storage vendors are the worst offenders for ruining performance/robustness)

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Alan Brown
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Taking on spinning for nearline

This is where it gets really interesting.

Despite their MAID capabilities my existing nearline arrays have to keep powered up pretty much constantly due to the time it takes an array to come online when needed _AND_ the risk that a 3-5yo spinning drive subjected to many start-stop cycles simply won't spin up when commanded.

As such whilst the gains can be measured in terms of "time to ready" response, the real power savings are an order of magnitude higher than the simple difference between spinner and sdd consumption. These drives can be left in low-power idle state a lot more of the time than spinners can, which means my 900W per shelf continuous load doesn't just drop to 400W, but when averaged over the day comes out somewhere nearer 40.

less heat == less cooling load and lower overall power requirements (which is a big deal in places like central London, where if you want a few hundred extra kW capacity in XYZ location you may have to wait 20 years before the power company can provide it.)

I'll wait to see pricing, but it's the above kind of thing which justifies buying these devices when they may be 3-5 times more expensive than the equivalent spinning media (experience is also showing that

as long as correctly specced for the jobs at hand they last in-service far longer than the HDDs they're replacing. We have decade-old SSDs in service in some (non-critical) corners of the network which are showing zero signs of degradation whilst you'd be nervous as hell about spinners of that age.

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Undocumented alien caught stealing orbits in our Solar System

Alan Brown
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Orion

Once you're in space, Orion isn't an issue. It's just the pesky part about getting past the atmosphere and all that biological stuff which poses a problem.

Freeman Dyson calculated that the cumulative cost of an Orion launch was 1-2 extra deaths per year due to fission products in the atmosphere and concluded this was too high a price to pay for a launch. Compare and contrast with most companies which would happily let hundreds of people die as long as their product is sold and marketshare increased.

FWIW one of the things which killed Orion was presenting the concept to JFK as a launching a multithousand ton "space forttress" into orbit capable of lobbing nooclear weapons at any location on the planet and dodging whatever was fired at it thanks to the manouevring capabilities inherent in the propulsion system. He was horrified by the concept and reportedly ordered it shut down the following day.

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Open justice FTW! El Reg fought the law – and El Reg won

Alan Brown
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Re: "There are a few others left"

"The Beeb is excellent at broadcasting government press releases"

And it does so in a way which makes it clear that they're the product of string pulling vs actual journalism.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Nicely Done Reg!

" Justice is justice, surely?"

Just about every one of my friends with lawyer training points out that the single most common mistake people make is believing that we (or any other country) has a justice system.

You oiks entering university get told to lose that demented idea on pretty much Day One of their law degree courses.

It's a LEGAL system. Justice has nothing to do with it and deeper pockets count for more than anything. If the law doesn't suit you, don't break it, buy a better one.

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Brit reseller Aria PC mounts appeal against £750k taxman VAT fiddle ruling

Alan Brown
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Re: A gangster with a broken system

"Their agents on the phone"

Rule #1 in dealing with any tax authority: If it's not in writing, it never happened.

If you _must_ deal with them in person or on the phone: Record the interactions and transcribe them immediately. Even better if it's in-person, write it up on the spot and ask the HMRC staffer to sign off on it as a true and accurate record.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Did you ever notice...

"I think you will find there is a lot more dodgy stuff involving Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, and Scotland"

You don't even need to go that far away from the government.

The City of London is THE money laundering capital of the world according to mafia/organised crime experts and has been for a long time. It's not a coincidence that all those russian oligarchs with dodgy fortunes seek it out as a safe haven.

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10 social networks ignored UK government consultations

Alan Brown
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"The government ignores public consultations all the time."

The fact that the government has called for public consultations is an indication that they've already decided what they want to do and are looking to rubberstamp it, no matter what happens at the consultations.

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Alan Brown
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"which apparently all need scanning and judging automagically to somehow always agree with the government?"

Facebook can always take the same solution as Google did with the media laws in Spain and Germany.

I'd give the government about 2 weeks at most in the face of a Facebook blockade, largely because most of the other big guys would join the boycott.

Citizens deprived of their ability to gossip online start becoming uppity.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Pray tell us

" And you left out LinkedIn - it's getting more annoying than FB (and if you are of working age, harder to ignore)."

I thought I had them blocked ouf almost totally - until I found Linkedin preinstalled on my new Samsung phone - and unremovable without rooting as it's in the rom sectiion.

I think one of the strongest anti-sales tactic I can think of is simply to publicise that Samsung has stooped to this level.

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Alan Brown
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Re: large shops do generally have security guards

"They do, but said guards have no right to frisk you, they can only detain you until the police arrive."

Statistically you're more likely to be murdered by an armed mall security guard in the USA than by any other type of perpetrator.

On the other hand, statistically you're also more likely to work in the mall concerned, rather than being a customer.

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Alan Brown
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Re: mystery

"they're probably trying to get access to a ban-hammer on platforms they do not control. "

One assumes they've never heard of the Streisand Effect.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Is there something which..prevents these people..understanding how the internet functions?

"as Upton Sinclair put it."

Or as someone else put it "I can explain it for you, but I can't understand it for you."

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Sysadmin hailed as hero for deleting data from the wrong disk drive

Alan Brown
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"Luckily I was able to replace it with a copy and it came back after a power cut a few weeks later,"

Doubly lucky, as some of the "supposedly" correctly setup cisco switches around here fail to boot up from power failures three times out of four - and when inspected, the tech support people can't find anything wrong with 'em (it's happening on multiple switches).

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Alan Brown
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" demanded to know what I was doing with their main backup disk."

Someone who'd obviously never heard of GFS backups.

Yes, I know syquests were pricey back in the day but the point of having 3 sets of media is that if one gets toasted for any reason during the backup you have at least one working copy to restore from.

I'm having the same argument with an "expert" at $orkplace who doesn't want to pay the costs associated with being on the central tape backup system. The last such "expert" ended up causing us to shell out more than twice the amount he was disputing, in order to recover his fried hard drive. It's funny how when they really cock up they expect us to both bail them out and carry the costs when they refused to follow our advice & procedures in the first place.

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Britain to slash F-35 orders? Erm, no, scoffs Lockheed UK boss

Alan Brown
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"It's the end of the battleship, all over again"

And at the same time, the DF21D and DF24 are the end of the viability of the aircraft carrier.

You don't need (or even want) to destroy your opponent's carrier using a nuke or other chicanery. All you need to do is threaten to put a big hole in the flight desk in order to ensure they stay out of range.

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Alan Brown
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Re: If we actually buy the entire 138 I will eat my hat

" half of them either going immediately into mothballs "

Funny you should say that. That was announced as the plan a while back.

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Alan Brown
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Re: I read that as:

"the A400 hasn't exactly been an unqualified success"

The A400 would have been built no matter what. Europe (and france in particular) being dependent on the USA for military cargo transports was not going to be tolerated. In the old days it would have been built to government contract with the price remaning classified.

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Alan Brown
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Re: "F35 is an expensive abomination of very questionable use"

"It's gobstoppingly amazing that the US didn't learn from the mistakes made with F-111"

Oh, but they did.

The lesson being "how to ensure your pork program doesn't get cancelled"

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Alan Brown
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Re: Conflict of interest?

"(till they were instructed from On High to stop looking in places where they didn't oughta be looking. Or else.)"

Perhaps this is why they're declining to investigate millions of pounds of fraud in at least one UK county council.

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Alan Brown
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">3100? 3100+ ultra expensive planes?"

Those numbers keep falling whilst the costs keep rising.

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Alan Brown
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"There's some very creative accounting to reclassify any parts made by US subsidiaries of UK companies as "UK value", and even parts made by US companies that might have now or ever had UK subsidiaries."

In the same way that a fire safe made in Korea and fitted with(*) shelving plus a chinese electronic lock bolted on in Liverpool is classified as "made in Britain" and even gets a union jack sticker on it.

(*) Not meaning actually installed, just added to the parts as it passes through.

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Alan Brown
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"Ha, they can try, but the penalty clause will end up costing them more."

That depends on how the "fitness for purpose" part was written and if there are provisions to allow cancellation for cost creep.

But of course being a contract drawn up by the UK government, it won't have any of these.

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Alan Brown
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" We build 15% of them"

That 15% is vastly overstated, as has been explained a few times in these forums

"and UK suppliers are charged 20% VAT."

erm. no. They get to claim it all back. VAT ends up only paid on actual consumption, not on things that are sold on or used as components of something sold on.

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US Congress mulls expanding copyright yet again – to 144 years

Alan Brown
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Re: Called it!

> Then it forces, through various threats of economic retaliation, the various international organizations to do it first, so they can claim they're just "following international standards".

At this point in time the USA isn't the largest economy in the world. It's either 3rd or 4th depending on what you believe about the state of the Indian economy - and #1/2/3 are drawing away from it, whilst the others are nipping at its heels.

We should be encouraging it to keep making the increasingly visibly ridiculous assertions of claim/dominance as well as encouraging it to keep putting 9+% of its GDP into military spending because it won't be long at these rates before it implodes and US hegemony over the rest of the world comes to an abrupt end.

Those F35s? Cute toys, but how well do they fly when fuel might be contaminated? How much are you going to spend on your logistics chains to ensure that it isn't?

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Alan Brown
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Re: 100 Years Of Hell

"It is not a Repub/Democrat thing."

THAT particular issue is a distraction. The Money Party holds the US house and congress. The facets therein are just window dressing.

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Domain name sellers rub ICANN's face in sticky mess of Europe's GDPR

Alan Brown
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Re: How about Companies House?

"I tracked down the issue to one of the companies that offers Companies House lookup information on the Internet, which had not only not noticed that the company was no longer trading (nor when it was deleted), but had 'corrected' the telephone number to my home number."

You went about trying to get the incorrect information removed the wrong way.

A DPA section 11 notice works wonders for that kind of thing and after failure to comply it's a simple court filing to wake them up to their responsibilities (If a bailiff is going in to seize things, always tell them to target the communications/networking equipment to take first, not things like TVs. It has a galvanising effect on getting attention to find the most critical piece of equipment and remove it.)

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Alan Brown
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Re: In reality

"EU tries to levy a fine but can't due to a lack of EU presence and protection by foreign sovereignty."

It hasn't stopped the USA when using their long-arm statutes to go after european entities (and collect) and blocking the EU in the other direction would have serious knock-on effects for the status of american long-arm statutes both within the USA (interstate commerce) as well as internationally.

In reality as long-arm statutes have been upheld multiple times in the USA supreme courts any attempts to nullify european ones would likely fail - and any success would be instant tradewars material.

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