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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

6166 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

F-35 'incomparable' to Harrier jump jet, top test pilot tells El Reg

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Re: They hate the infantry

F18s need cats 'n' traps. The carriers weren't designed for that. A mistake I think.

However planes you use that way don't last as long as VSTOL. The airframes get knackered much earlier. So you may get cheaper ones, but have to buy them twice.

I don't agree with the MOD's decisions. But they aren't actually stupid. Thought has gone into them.

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Re: They hate the infantry

I don't think the A10 would be much use to the Navy.

I'm sure you could make it land on deck easily, it's tough enough, but it's not designed for air defence of the carrier and it's not got that long a range. There might be an argument for the RAF to have something like the A10 - but in most cases that kind of warfare is now being covered by drones. And give the job description is flying low and slow over the enemy, that's a great place to use drones too.

It is probably true that it's not really a saving to have one type of aircraft rather than 2. Sure you save on spare parts, training and the supply train, but you do end up paying much more for multi-role.

But this isn't so true with carrier aviation, as you've got to have air superiority and strike capability on a carrier - but you've only got one small group of maintenance people. If you need more close air support capability, you can fly Apache off the carrier as well as F35.

The MOD then made a decision to buy 140 planes to have one joint pool between the RAF and the RN. It may be that this was the wrong decision, or that it was part of the negotiations in order to get the B version built at all (with BAe getting work as a subbie). Hard to know the specifics of that negotiation.

If we'd gone Cats-and-traps we'd have lost that joint pool option, as it's much easier to do VSTOL landings than arrested ones, so you can have RAF part-time carrier pilots, only used for short periods on the carriers. Which wouldn't be safe otherwise. That would have probably resulted in having to buy many more aircraft, probably meaning you wouldn't make any savings buying cheaper ones.

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Apple iPhone X: Two weeks in the life of an anxious user

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Re: "Like I say, there’s no user guide to tell you what all the icons means."

Steve Todd,

How hard would it be for Apple to have a simple user guide available on the damned phone? I'm sure they only don't do it becuase they want to blather on in their marketing about how intuitive and easy to use it is.

Not that I'm saying it's hard to use. But there's a lot of totally un-intuitive gesture controls in smartphones nowadays. Those you can only learn by being taught them - and they're different for each OS.

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Re: "Like I say, there’s no user guide to tell you what all the icons means."

Mr Dabbs,

Proof yet again that there's no point going to a vendor's site and trying to find what you need, and bloody well know is there.

Search on Google, and they'll find it for you much quicker. Something everyone's long said for finding stuff in Microsoft's knowledge base when Windows is playing up. I wonder if Bing is as good at that as Google nowadays?

Last time I had a 'droid (HTC Wildfire) there was no manual at all. Google had left the Android manual to the OEMs, so it came with a basic paper booklet and there wasn't a manual for Android 2.2 anywhere. I was able to find developer documentation, so I had the info for the APIs - just not how to set up email accounts.

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Re: "Like I say, there’s no user guide to tell you what all the icons means."

I think it's a bit like the original green screen Nokias. They had a really simple UI, but partly because they didn't do that much. About the time the first iPhone came out, I had a work candybar Nokia dumbphone. It had a colour scren and all sorts of fripperies like mp3s, radio camera WAP, email But all that meant was that you had a bloody complicated menu system, that made it a truly rubbish phone. And email on a non 3G phone with no data tarrif and no WiFi is just silly anyway.

The first iPhone didn't do too much. And even when they brought out the 3, that did, there weren't many gesture controls. So it was dead easy to use, although even then there was nothing to tell you to try a long press as a sort of smartphone equivalent to right clicking a mouse.

But now iOS has loads of different gestures, and screens that swipe down from the top, up from the bottom and in from the sides. Yet still Apple think it's easy to use and intuitive. But it no longer is. I'm nnot saying it's hard or bad (like that awful Nokia), but it does now need a short explanation. A How To gestures app on the homescreen, or a thing that pops up and says try this, or a simple UI manual built in.

At least MS had the weird writing that slightly overlapped the screen on Windows Phone - as a visual clue to tell you that if you swiped right there was more stuff.

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Crypto-cash exchange BitConnect pulls plug amid Bitcoin bloodbath

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wolfetone,

Is that Varoufakis' book? Might be an interesting read, but isn't he talking about the Euro and the EU - and the problems with them? Rather than Bitcoin. And I don't see how Bitcoin is the dollar even makes sense.

Also, there's an IT angle. Varoufakis used to be chief economist for Valve.

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Duncan Large,

The Blockchain doesn't prove that you owned the coins. It proves that you had access to the wallet for however brief a period. As various Bitcoin related scams have shown.

I admit it gives more security on the transaction. But it still won't save you from mis-typing the amount you're paying. Bank errors do happen, but not all that often, and I don't buy blockchain stopping that. Or saving you from fraud. Yes it does require a trusted middle-man (such as the current payment processors in the banking system) - but it also requires a lot more security savvy and embuggerance for the users - so the risk you save by using blockchain over third party banks, you lose in having to secure your wallet / wallets.

I just don't see crypto-currency solving any current problems other than, "how do I transfer money untaxed and hidden from the police".

I agree that blockchain may well turn out useful for the Land Registry. Or software licences.

A use the Bank of England are looking at I think is loan collaterol. Say a bank wants to borrow £1m from the BofE or another bank on the inter-bank loan market - they currently would pledge another asset as collaterol against the loan (this would be a government or corporate bond or other security). This is what's always happened. They've looked at a system to run this. Then both banks (and regulators) would be able to know how much uncommitted capital the banks have at any one time.

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Anon,

Why do we need blockchain?

Personally I suspect that Bitcoin is toast, because people will enentually move their transactions to other blockchain based stuff that scales better. And at the moment there's clearly a demand for it.

However why blockchain? Why encumber all transactions with records of previous ones? The global payment transfer systems like SWIFT and VISA all work perfectly for moving money around the world. And are cheaper too. And don't waste vast amounts of electricity mining to do it.

Criminals struggle to use that system - and they'll always find a way to move money. Their transaction costs have always been huge anyway. But with Paypal, credit cards and bank transfers all being so cheap, I don't see a huge use case for crypto currency.

Blockchain looks like a much better system for keeping track of assets or software licenses.

The thing the internet could do with is some sort of system for micropayments - but I don't see crypto currency being any better at that than the current system. Certainly not if it's got transaction fees you have to measure in dollars.

As for your other points, the miners nearly control Bitcoin already. When it comes time to stop printing Bitcoin, if it survives that long, they'll vote to print more coins.

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Re: Looking forward to the complete collapse of crypto-currencies

I thought the mining had moved beyond graphics cards and into ASICs nowadays?

So are you sure it isn't the evil supercomputer people that are now making your gaming more expensive nowadays?

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Re: Hodl o-on loosely...

You're right. I just looked it up. Remember Glenn Hodl?

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Scam alert

BitConnect promised patrons the ability to earn interest on Bitcoins by lending them.

This is a scam. They might be a perfectly legitimate exchange, but anyone offering to borrow or lend in Bitcoin is a scammer.

The thing that the Bitcoin fans used to go on about in the good old days, before it turned into this mad bubble recently, was inflation. It was where the gold-bugs all went, after the gold price collapsed. There couldn't be inflation in bitcoin due to limited numbers allowed, corrupt governments, evil banks, etc. etc. etc...

So Bitcoin has deflation built in. At the moment it's in hyper-deflation. Inflation is where the value of money falls, hyper-inflation I think is defined as when that's by more than 50% a year. Deflation is when the value of money rises.

Why's this a bad thing? Well I'm going to use one example, lending. It's awful for other reasons too, but without lending you can't have investment. Without investment, you don't get productivity growth. Without productivity growth, you don't get richer - you just move the same resources round amongst your population. Growth then only comes from having more people.

If there's 100% inflation, that's bad for the economy. But I can still invest. If I borrow £1m for a year to upgrade a factory - then I've obviously got to cover the interest - but in a year's time I'm only going to owe the equivalent of half that. It would now cost £2m to buy that same machinery, but I only owe £1m to the bank. Obviously this means they'll be charging me high interest, but then the price of the goods I'm selling is also doubling every year. This is still bad for the economy, but the point scales down to 5% inflation - I just did it to make the numbers easier. And it explains why developing countries can cope with inflation of 10-20% and still grow.

With 100% deflation - it all goes horrible. I buy a machine for £1m. After a year I can now buy that same machine for £500k! But I still owe the bank £1m! Disaster! Obviously they can't charge me much interest, or I'd be going bust. Worse lets say I was planning to sell 1m gewgaws a year, made with this machine, at £1 each. By year 2, I'm deflation means I can only sell them for 50p each. That money still buys me the same stuff, so it would be fine. Except I had to borrow the year before when money was half as valuable - so I'm screwed and will never be able to pay back my debt. I don't believe there's every been hyper-deflation before, becasue it causes economic collapse at even low levels. So congratulations to Bitcoin for that...

Anyway my point here is that the gold-bugs are wrong. Deflation is awful. Inflation at low levels is fine, at high levels it's bad, but not as catastrophic as deflation. And deflation destroys banking. So anyone claiming to do Bitcoin banking (rather than just doing money transfers) is an idiot or a fraudster.

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If cryptocurrencies are a bubble

Crypto currencies are a bubble. Even if they were the best idea in the world, the massive zoom up in price over the last year shows that they're a bubble. Something that isn't even vaguely stable in price, is no use as a means of exchange.

(and there's plenty of evidence showing that they're simply Banking 2.0, with adoption accelerating every day)

Where? Is adoption increasing? Steam just pulled out of Bitcoin saying that transactions were taking an hour to process and costing $20. Reports I've read since suggest that's only got worse.

Anyway Bitcoin isn't Banking 2.0. It might just possibly be transaction processing 2.0 - it isn't, but you can dream. But it doesn't even approach all the other services that banking provides. Banking is about liquidity transformation - turning short term savings into long term loans - everything else in banking is just database work and customer service.

Bitcoin as investment looks to me to be killing Bitcoin as currency. Maybe after the inevitable price collapse it could go back to "normal", as it did after the last major collapse you mentioned.

But it's still a piddling amount of money/transactions in the whole Bitcoin ecosystem, that it's failing to deal with. International banking deals with massively more transactions far more cheaply. It only costs £10 for an instant CHAPS transfer to buy your house in the UK, and same-day BACS (up to £20k I think) is free, as most are on free-banking, and business are only pay a few pence.

it will take a hell of a lot more than the closure of a shady, two-bit British outfit to collapse something like Bitcoin.

That's true. Though Bitcoin's history shows that most/all of its exchanges seem to be shady, and the ones that grow to be the biggest tend to go bust after a while (for various reasons). That's a huge problem if you're foolish enough to invest in Bitcoin, as you've got to find a trustworthy exchange to get your money out with. And come the inevitable collapse of the bubble, they'll probably start dropping like flies.

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Former Cisco CEO John Chambers says insects are the new lobsters

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Re: Nothing too see here

I've had ants and grasshoppers. And they weren't very nice, even disguised by being coated in chocolate.

Although I'm told that mealworms are actually quite tasty. And that's by people who were given live ones to eat.

However I think if insects do have a future it's going to be as a processed protein to be put in other stuff that tastes nicer. Processed foods or non-vegetarian versions of Quorn/tofu.

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Re: Insects...

The only question is who is footing the bill in case of the rather inevitable incident when they escape from a farm.

That's what the hedges are for. Plus the locust dog, to round them up if they do escape.

The only question is, how do you milk them?

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How many Routemaster bus seats would it take to fill Wembley Stadium?

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Re: Disappointed!

So we're talking a spherical Routemaster in a vacuum right?

But if there's no up or down, how will the teenagers know which is the top deck?

And as he's got to stand on the open plate at the back, won't the conductor's legs get cold?

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Drone crashes after operator failed to spot extra building site crane

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Re: Not sure going straight up is safer.

Not sure the hi-vis would help. The drone can't even see a bloody great crane...

But on a serious note, I'd have thought going straight up is a bad idea. Though the CAA seem to disagree, as they reported that this is what the pilot said he'd do in future, and don't seem to have disagreed.

Helicopter pilots are taught to only hover if they need to, and to always be moving horizontally if possible, as that gives much better options for recovery from an engine failure. Much harder to auto-rotate from hover - plus your own downdraft reduces available lift. Then again the second doesn't apply so much to small drones with electric motors Plus I don't know if they're even capable of auto-rotation - although they do have multiple motors and rotors - so do have some recovery abilities.

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Butt plugs, mock cocks, late pay and paranoia: The world of Waymo star Anthony Levandowski… by his kids' nanny

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Re: Don't those things always come in pairs?

When counting nipple clamps, do you count them individually, or as a set?

Why? How many nipples have ye got?

Just asking for a friend. Major Thou-Shalt-Not-Commit-Adultery Pulsifer, as happens. Can you tell I was listening to Good Omens on the iPlayer last night?

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Perhaps she wanted money, not to file the lawsuit? This looks sort of blackmail-y - given his current legal situtation - and the weird randomness of the stuff released. How can information relevant only to his other lawsuit crop up in this filing otherwise? Surely any sensible lawyer would just edit it out. Even if you put in all the minor footling complaints about having to stand too long or having your sandpit thrown away.

Weird.

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Another round of click-fraud extensions pulled from Chrome Store

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Re: Store benefits

To be fair to Google I think they have a problem with corporate culture, rather than that they're just evil and greedy.

Although I also think they're greedy. Oh and arrogant.

I wouldn't use the word evil though. They brought that on themselves by saying don't be evil - but I'd use another of their quotes, "we want to go up close to the creepy line but not cross it." So creepy and greedy seem fine. And smug. Did I mention arrogant?

But I think that Google genuinely buy some of their own bullshit about how you can solve all problems with computers and completely free information. They also use it as an excuse to steal peoples' personal data or abuse peoples' copyright on Youtube for gain. So like most of us a mix of some clever long-term planning, some idealism, some greed and a large dollop of self-justification.

That culture causes some of these mis-steps (like trying to do all the app store testing automatically and not with humans). I'm sure the greed bit applies here a bit too. But then the huge dose of arrogance kicks in, in not fixing the problem when it should be obvious that you can't just solve these problems by chucking more processors at them.

It's why I think Google will generally fail in the consumer electronics market. They don't do messy stuff like customer services or admitting that could possibly have got anything wrong. And they assume that everyone lives in a world of having data connection (and infinite allowance) whereever they go. And they just seem to prefer computers to people. As I said creepy. And arrogant.

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Re: Users stung?

Well in a lot of cases Google actually profit from click fraud. As do big sites like Facebook and the other ad networks. Which is probably why so little effort is made to avoid it.

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Re: Store benefits

Well to be fair, other vendor's stores seem to be relatively safe. It's Google's that keeps coming up repeatedly, and Google that do the least checking of what they allow in.

So while the idea of a vendor store isn't perfect - I'm not sure if the problem isn't actually Google.

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Today in bullsh*t AI PR: Computers learn to read as well as humans (no)

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Re: The usual potential " jobs threatened" stuff

Actually the marketing is the creative bit here. It's the journalists / churnalists that could be replaced by an AI. All they're doing is changing the order of the press release a bit, so it doesn't look like they copied it. Including putting a few bits in quotes from the bit of the press release that is a faux interview with one of the researchers, to make it look like they've done an actual interview.

Then they go to their house style guide that says AI stories are reported as "threat to millions of jobs" and paste that bit in.

Then they just need to complete the piece. To show their journalistic integrity. This means you can't have a story from just one source! So you go to Twitter, find a relevant quote from someone, paste that in. Job done.

I'm sure someone could write code to do this in a couple of hours. That's assuming papers like the Express and Telegraph (that seem to have sacked most of their newsroom) haven't done this already...

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Frenchman comes eye to eye with horror toilet python

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Re: ah ha!

It wasn't just trying to bite him, but to eat him!

Proof!

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Don't-a forget-ta to viper afterwards. And re-mamba to wash your hands!

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Junk food meets junk money: KFC starts selling Bitcoin Bucket

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Happy

Does it involve tulips?

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Maybe they only sold one, for the PR?

It was a really, really limited special offer.

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Hawaiian fake nukes alert caused by fat-fingered fumble of garbage GUI

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Re: It's not my fault, the Software made me do it!

I disagree.

If you as a developer provide a critical system which has two menu items next to each other - you have to expect someone to mis-click at some point. Everyone's done it with their email program at some point, and sent something to junk mail, or deleted it or whatever.

Only this is a safety critical system. With email it doesn't matter so much, though the menus could be better designed.

In this case a distressing and potentially panic-inducing false alarm was issued. Which is bad enough.

In the worst case scenario, there's a real incoming nuclear attack and someone hits test - and no alert gets issued.

By these early accounts, it's a shit design.

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North Korea's nuclear tests haven't been that big. Though the last one was much bigger than the first two (20-30 kt), which were Hiroshima sized. By WWIII standards the first ones were all tactical nukes.

And that's assuming the bombs work properly, and don't fizzle (giving a smaller yield).

But they're not going to destroy whole cities in one go. They might kill most people within a 1 mile radius say, but outside that distance being in shelter is likely going to save you. Plus if you're further away, avoiding fallout is a really good idea.

Also, North Korea's missiles are pretty shitty, and not accurate enough to aim at specific targets - like cities. So it would have to be blind luck to get a hit - but a successful launch would still cause fallout. And being indoors is going to help with that.

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Worst-case Brexit could kill 92,000 science, tech jobs across UK – report

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Re: Brexit

Answer: Nope. There was a big vote, and everything...

Did you sleep through it? It seemed to go on for long enough.

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Re: Something doesn't add up for me...

We make a net contribution to the EU overall. But get more than our fair share of the research budget, because we have the best universities in Europe. At least according to the global rankings...

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Butcher breaks out of own freezer using black pudding

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Coat

Re: Let's hope that the button manufacturer...

But that just means there'll be a slight delay before nuclear armageddon, while the President sits in the Oval Office, furiously beating his sausage.

Your idea is close, but no cigar.

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No wonder Marvin the robot was miserable: AI will make the rich richer – and the poor poorer

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Re: ... £6k a year, that would cost something like £200,000 to purchase

Anyway, the real point is that it's silly to complain about wealth and income inequalities until we've taken into account what our societies already do to correct them.

That's benefits, pensions, the NHS and taxes.

You may then still want to do something about it. But claiming that inequality is worse than it is, by cherry-picking numbers, is still dishonest.

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Re: ... £6k a year, that would cost something like £200,000 to purchase

Warm Braw,

No wealth is guaranteed. House prices may go down, share prices may collapse, banks may go bust. Art might become unfashionable.

As a British citizen I have the rights to a social safety net that mean I require less personal wealth to have a comfortable and secure life than if I were say Chinese. Because in China you have to save for your pension (well you do here too but at least you'll get something) and you need to be able to cover your healthcare costs, and have a reserve to deal with unemployment. That's why the Chinese economy has a problem of insuficient domestic demand, because people are forced to save too much - whereas everyone would be better off if they paid tax to cover healthcare and unemployment insurance.

If government revenue collapses to such an extent that we can't afford any of the government services, then our economy will have collapsed and so investments will be as worthless as government promises. And offshore companies will be no better off, as with no customers to sell to, they'll still go bust.

I can't plan for total economic collapse, short of building a bunker on a farm and stockpiling weapons and tinned food. So there's no point.

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Noting that richest 10 per cent in the UK own five times more wealth than the poorest 50 per cent

Well of course they bloody do!

The bottom huge chunk of the population, will have negative wealth. By dint of having more debt than they have savings. So by just owning £1 and no debt, you're probably richer than over a billion people combined. That's not some shocking global iniquity, it's just fucking arithmetic!

It's also utterly meaningless in terms of the UK. In the sense that it ignores what we already do to correct wealth inequality. I am entitled to an index-linked state pension worth over £6k a year, that would cost something like £200,000 to purchase the annuity for. Plus entitlements to health, housing and unemployment cover, that would cost hundreds of thousands more to buy over a lifetime. What is that, if not wealth? It dwarfs the equity I own in my flat. And I bet would make a huge difference to that oft quoted 50% figure.

As to the AI report, I thought there was still a broad connection between economic productivity and overall wages? Obviously that would suggest AI, if it ever happens, would boost general wages.

Obviously some jobs would lose out, and if those people can't be retrained fast enough they'd suffer badly. But that's a problem that has happened for thousands of years. It's not new.

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Cryptocurrencies to end in tears, says investor wizard Warren Buffet

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Re: gambling

When did anyone ever bail out the Lloyds names?

As for the bankers, you do realise they weren't given any cash. All the banks were given huge loans (in exchange for collaterol), but had paid them back within 2 years. With interest. We took shares in the 2 banks that didn't have enough collaterol - and have sold the shares in one of those at a profit. IN the case of RBS, the government owns 70% of it - so as long as its share price can recover above the level needed to cover the money it was given - we'll make a profit on that as well.

Not that they didn't screw up the economy. But the taxpayers loaned the banks money, and got a return on it - and/or took shares (i.e. partial ownership) in exchange.

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Re: It's 100% your choice and decision

Bitcoin once went from something like $1,200 before Christmas to $50 in early January. And stayed below $100 for the next year or two.

The 1929 crash didn't even approach that level of volatility.

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Steam used to. So you could buy games. But they just stopped, as the transaction costs were averaging $20.

I presume you can also buy drugs still.

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Re: Anyone know of anyone who specialises in Bitcoin property sales in the UK?

How do you sell the Bitcoin once you've got them? If you look at the charts online, quite a few exchanges total daily Bitcoin turnover is just a handful of coins. And are any of those exchanges regulated? What if you sell it for Bitcoins and then get ripped off, or it goes wrong? You've then still got to pay that mortgage.

If the guy wants to invest, surely he sells for sterling cash, then buys the Bitcoins himself.

It's an insanely risky investment, where you have to understand computer security and backups enough to guard your own wallet when you hold them - while also having to find an exchange that won't suddenly announce that it's been hacked - just after you've turned over £100,000 to them - or all your Bitcoin. Are any of them regulated or audited?

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Re: Easy to understand

The banks weren't bankrupt. Well apart from a couple of small building societies and Northern Rock and the government made a profit on selling the assets of that after it was broken up, so it probably wasn't either.

The banks were illiquid. That is they had a bunch of assets that they couldn't sell (such as mortgages that were still being repaid) and a bunch of debts that they couldn't pay in the short term. Bonds and peoples' savings accounts.

So the government took custody of their long-term assets in return for huge loans of freshly printed money. the banks were then liquid and the panic subsided. Within two years all UK banks had paid those loans back, and the Bank of England returned their collaterol and "unprinted" the money. This is what Central Banks are supposed to do, and is the only way so far discovered to have a stable banking system - short of the government running it.

So shares went down, but didn't disappear. Obviously in the case of RBS the government also took a huge stake, so share value collapsed. But if you held on to them, the price started to slowly rise - and might continue to do so.

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Re: Who really does understand them?

Buffet called the dot.com bust in advance because he can count. So he looked at the balance sheet of a bunch of these companies and noticed that although they had rising turnover, and often were reporting profits (or predicting them for the future), they didn't seem to have the cash to match their claims.

He's also confident enough to publicly say, "I don't understand this, so I won't do it".

Before the great recession the head of one of the big European banks (UBS?) said something similar. That he didn't understand the CDO market - all those lovely mortgage backed securities that proved so disastrous, because they were impossible to value. So he stayed out of the market. In about 2005 he was sacked for not making enough profits. It's a shame we can't retrospectively go back and remove a bunch of peoples' bonuses from that era, and give some portion of them to people like him.

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Heart of darkness: Inside the Osówka underground city

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Re: Maybe one day we will also visit Cold War underground facilities

You used to be able to play paintball in the old Greenham Common airbase (or Cruise missile fame). Because they'll not be demolishing all those reinforced concrete hangars anytime soon.

There's also a company that do a zombie apocalypse themed day. You start by going with a police SWAT team to fight some zombies, with paintball guns. Lots of pyrotechnics, as your movements are controlled by the police, and other actors playing zombies. Then after lunch all the actors dress up as zombies and try to eat you, while you fight them off. They've got two sites. One old 60s concrete shopping Centre in Reading and an old Cold War bunker in North London. Sadly my mate refused to do it for his stag do, and I haven't persuaded enough friends to join me and go. Seems like a well spent £100 to me - for a one-off experience.

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WikiLeave? Assange tipped for Ecuadorian eviction

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Re: Here's a question

Nope. There is no diplomatic protection to give. if he's outside the embassy, he's fair game. In or out of a diplomatic bag.

The police are allowed to arrest diplomats, they just can't charge them without permission of their own government. I doubt you're allowed to hold them for long either, and you have to contact their embassy once you've got them.

As for the ABC thing, the Guardian yesterday say that Ecuador tried it. Some journo found his name on their equivalent of the electoral rolls - meaning he's been given citizenship, if true. And they recently applied to the UK government for a diplomatic visa. Which was refused.

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Re: "A third country might offer a new couch"

And who, pray, issues that visa?

Turns out the UK doesn't...

The Guardian had a report that Ecuador recently applied for a diplomatic visa for Assange - and the government refused. As was rather political.

I think the FCO feel that there's no particular cost in him hanging out there. But Ecuador pissed them off, and made a great song-and-dance about doing it. So they're not going to give them any help to get out of the situation. And force them to back down publicly and kick him out, or put up with him.

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Re: The Emperor has no clothes?

The rape charges still stand in Sweden. For the next 4 years or so, til the statute of limitations runs out on them.

They've just given up persuing it.

They can get the old European Arrest Warrant out of the filing cabinet, dust it off, cross out the charges that have expired and get it faxed to the Met in an hour or so. If he's in the cells overnight awaiting his bail-jumping hearing, that's enough time.

So he can't leave, if he wants to avoid going to Sweden. Short of being smuggled out - at which point we might get pissed off and expel Ecuador's ambassador for doing it.

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Re: Time for a chat ...

Yup. Ecuador can abandon him any time. But that's embarrasssing since they made such a song-and-dance about how he was a wronged hero of the people who they were heroically standing up for!

Now they'd look weak and pathetic for backing down. Hence they've been trying to get a face-saving deal out of the Foreign Office for about 4 years.

But the FCO aren't offering one. Policing ain't out of their budget guv. So it's no skin off their rosy nose whatever happens. And sets a bad precedent if they do something shady, for no particular gain.

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In South America this is standard practise. El Presidente runs to a friendly embassy during coup. Claims diplomatic asylum, and avoids getting strung up by the mob. The new regime surround the embassy and demand his release for trial. A month later an emissary from the Pope turns up, and quietly negotiates a swift exit to exile in a third country on a private plane.

I don't think many countries outside South America practise diplomatic asylum though. It's not in the Vienna Conventions, so isn't covered by international law.

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Fuck that. Why should Assange get special treatment?

It's also not legal. The Foreign Office do not have the power to tell the police who to arrest, or not to - and nor do they have the power to tell the courts to issue a particular judgement.

Not that "quiet words" can't be had - but why waste political capital on this. He can just sit there and rot, until he comes to his senses, or he's waited out the Swedish statue of limitations. Particularly as it sets a bad precedent.

On the flipside, not only can the FCO not tell the police what to do. But they also don't have to pay for police budgets.

It appears that Blair's governmet did illegally give letters of assurance to certain IRA people that they wouldn't be prosecuted. Which we know about because one bloke used his a couple of years ago, even though it had been given to him in error. However that was done in the cause of peace in Northern Ireland - which is important. Julian Assange is not.

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Re: hang on a moment...

Bernard M. Orwell,

Different El Reg writers have been more or less sympathetic to Assange. So it's not like they've taken an editorial line on him. But Sessions has said that, so they reported it. Not that everything Trump's lot say is actually likely to happen.

There was talk of a secret grand jury being convened under Obama, and also suggestions during the Manning court martial that they were getting evidence on Assange. Doesn't neccessarily mean anything will come of it though.

The prosecution submission alleged that Manning was getting technical help from Assange on how to get the information off the army servers. That I believe would count as espionage. If they could get him, that's anything up to the death sentence. If all they can prove is that Manning handed the leaks to Assange, then Assange is basically covered as a journalist, and is safe.

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Re: It's not complicated

Cuddles,

In South America this might well be resolved by a mediator.

They recognise the practise of "diplomatic asylum". So when the military coup happens, various members of the deposed government run for friendly embassies. Then if the coup is put down, they're on hand to pop back out and resume governing. But if it succeeds, they hang around there for a bit, until a deal is done and they go into exile.

Military coups haven't been so widespread as they used to be in South America, but this still happens. The idea is that it's a lot better than being strung up from a lamppost, and as you're government might itself get overthrown, there's an incentive to keep that fall-back position open.

However diplomatic asylum isn't recognised in the Vienna Conventions. Which are the international law on diplomacy. And it's not something the Foreign Office holds with. According to my favourite UK ex-ambassador, Charles Crawford, FCO guidelines are to usher such people out of your embassy as fast as possible to avoid massive embarassment to both you and your host country. An ambassador can't be a discrete source of information and communication with between governments when he's personally involved in a noisy public dispute. Especially one that rudely exploits his embassy's diplomatic status to embarrass his host government - and make political trouble for them.

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Russia claims it repelled home-grown drone swarm in Syria

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Re: The shape of things to come

Chemical and biological weapons are incredibly short range unless you have very expensive and complex delivery devices. And usually lots of them. It's nothing you can knock up in a shed.

The only chemical attack in Syria that killed lots of people was the one in the suburbs of Damascus that Cameron lost the vote in parliament over. That used something like 1,500 little artillery/mortar projectiles to get the gas spread around. You can't do stuff like that without massive infrastructure and resources.

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