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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

6894 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Wearable hybrids prove the bloated smartwatch is one of Silly Valley's biggest mistakes

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Re: Pebble! Did all you want, reliably.

It's not a one-off anecdote. They massively over-funded on Kickstarter in their first campaign - and so unsurprisingly had huge delays in getting their product to their customers. And as far as I can tell, had the same problems with every product launch. It's not surprise - logistics is bloody hard, and presumably they were a techy company which was all about the shinies. But the point is that their logistics never improved and they were pretty much always delays and waiting lists to get them.

And when you say your Pebbles were delivered on time, I presume you mean they turned up when specified to you. But they missed their delivery deadlines for both the Pebble 1 and Pebble 3 - as in they didn't even ship in the same quarter that they announced when they launched the products.

I'm too lazy to look, but I think they also admitted publicly that they had quality control issues with the early model, and had to do a lot of replacing. Again not unusual.

This isn't exactly a unique problem in the tech industry.

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Re: Pebble! Did all you want, reliably.

Reliably? I think my brother ordered 3 and only ever got 2, and the first one had to be replaced twice.

Had they been better at logistics, they might not have gone bust and had to be bought out.

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Re: iTug?

iFap therefore iAm?

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I take both everywhere.

The only place I go without my phone is in the shower (or when I swim), and I leave my watch next to it. But I do wonder how much of my watch wearing is habit? I miss it when I don't have it - but that's because I had a watch years before I had a phone.

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Re: Still need that "killer app" ?

Watches themselves being a perfect argument for your case.

Young people today (the lucky bastards!) no longer wear normal watches. Why? Because they've got a phone in their pocket and so don't need one. So even the use-case of the watch itself is dying out. Let alone the smart one. Well reducing really, as I'm sure some younger people wear them and there's still a bunch of old codgers around the place who are in the habit.

I wear a watch because I'm in that habit, and I was given a reasonably nice one twenty years ago. I like to be able to just glance at the time rather than taking my phone out of my pocket. But if I want to look at the date, I don't get my reading glasses out to squint at the tiny one on my watch, I use my phone. Anything that requires more attention than a quick glance means that the cost in time of reaching to my pocket to get my phone is now worthwhile.

So I'd say the one application that would work for a watch for me, would be changing tracks when listening to music. But then I'd need my reading glasses to pick from a tiny watch screen, or I'd need a bigger watch. Or just get the phone out... I still use an iPod Classic anyway, so even if I wanted this, it wouldn't work.

The same problem applies for satnav, when out walking. The screen isn't big enough to be less hassle than getting the phone out of my pocket.

Which brings us to fashion. Fashion brands of watches do very well indeed. And I suspect will continue to do so. The same will power the smartwatch market.

And maybe the tech will reverse someday? And we'll have small enough batteries and processors so that everyone will wear their portable computer as a watch, rather than having to carry the thing as a smartphone. And some people will still have smartphones but as a legacy device tethered to the watch to give them a bigger screen - and something to use as a game controller.

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Re: Smart watches should be simple

DrXym,

I'm not sure about that. I think the smartest design decision with smart wearables is to make them as dumb as you can get away with. You've already got a highly capable mobile computer within very short range (i.e. the phone) and it seems to me that the more work you can dump off on that, the better.

The downside of that is that you need the phone OSes to have common protocols and Apple and Google won't cooperate with that. Apple are far more restrictive of what apps are allowed to do too, so you may face problems with compatibility there. I seem to remember that my brother's Pebble did less because he had an iPhone than if he'd used an Android.

On the other hand, I do think some of the battery life concerns are over-played. Once battery life is longer than a weekend, it ought to be fine. If you're going away for longer, you're going to be taking chargers anyway - and you're likely to forget to charge a weekly/monthly watch and so run out of batteries frequently anyway. As most people take their watches off at night, surely you just need a nice little charging solution for the bedside table that can also charge your phone - and it'll soon become habit. We're all used to charging our smartphones every night after all? Most of us choose the flexibility of the smartphone over the long battery life of the dumb one.

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Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

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Google pulled out of China, but when it was a much smaller consumer market than it now is. And then slunk back in later, to not a huge amount of success. But GDP per capita in China is probably a third of what it is in Europe - so despite having fewer people, Europe is still richer - and has more dispoable income for fripperies who might pay Google for advertising.

Also, when you're a monopolist (and Google are) then you need to maintain your monopoly in order to abuse it to make monopolistic profits. As soon as Google pulls out of one of the biggest markets in the world, they torpedo their own monopoly - and create a space where a rival can build up.

Google won't leave the EU market.

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Re: I'll still want a phone with Google's Android implementation.

If Google are so great, how come they abused their monopoly by forcing vendors to use Google Search and other services, but didn't use the same power to force them to issue security updates for the OS?

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Re: Morons

Nah. Google are dead useful. But not irreplaceable.

It's business. They get fined, they pay the fine, they change behaviour as little as they think they can get away with and they keep making money. The EU can do this, because people make profits there.

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If Google don't pay then I guess the EU could try to sieze the bits of Google that are in Europe and sell their assets to pay the fine. Or start arresting their executives whenever they fly through European airspace. Or stop EU companies from paying them.

If Google want to operate in the EU, and they do because they make profits there, then they'll have to pay up.

Also Google get away with being massive privacy thieves and data-hoarders through inertia. They're useful, and it's a lot of hassle to regulat them. But if they tried to pull a stunt like that, the gloves would come off pretty quickly.

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Re: Choice on Apple?

David164,

So google could just say they will stop updating android, lock down the code, encrypt it and no longer issue any new updates to non google made phones.

They could. But they won't. Because the reason they abuse their Android monopoly is not because they make a profit out of Android. They still make 95% of their turnover from advertising - Google are a massive ads company - who do a bunch of other stuff in order to sell ads. And I'm sure they'll maintain Android because not only does it push lots of users to Google services (to see more ads) but it also gives them back masses of data on where everyone goes and how fast (for satnav traffic info - and advertising), what they buy, who they talk to and email etc. Android is just a datalogger to improve the accuracy of targetted adverts.

But if they drop it, then various rivals can come back into the market. Windows Phone was actually quite good by the end, and I'm sure that someone could pick up the Android open source stuff and get working on it. Samsung have Tizen. It would just mean Android stagnating for a couple of years, but what new features does it really need?

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Re: The Attrition Game

Google aren't very experience at attrition at all. After the ruling on vertical search they spend a year wasting the Commission's time in offering solutions that clearly took the piss. What happened? That friendly Commissioner who was bending over backwards to help them left, and a new Commission came in that just happened to owe a favour to Axel Springer (for getting Merkel to drop her support for Cameron and back Juncker). And so the pisstaking continued for a few months, and Google got fined €1.5bn. And lost their appeal. So how did that work out?

What Google need to do is to take regulation seriously and sort their shit out. Otherwise there's a few more areas of dodginess that they might find themselves fined for. And each time they're seen to fail to cooperate with the investigation and then refuse to cooperate with a solution, the penalties will get bigger. Not to mention the PR cost of being seen as a dodgy corporation. Facebook are now having to do TV adverts about how they won't abuse your data anymore - OK it's a lie, but it's also a cost. And regulation may catch up with them yet.

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Trump wants to work with Russia on infosec. Security experts: lol no

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WP, like land mines and cluster munitions have been seriously restricted. But we can't even hold the line against gas and nerve agents, that have been considered unacceptable since WWI, so what chance of that working.

Allegedly the Russians have even been using un-guided bombs in Syria, so that they can plausibly blame deliberate bombing of civilian targets on the Syrian airforce.

As for mines, cluster munitions and WP - they can be used in ways that limit the effects on civilians, and are still incredibly useful. Which makes outright banning them much harder. WP is still allowed to generate smoke, cluster bombs are great for runway denial and minefields for perimeter defence. But as I say, if the Russian government can't even restrain itself from using radiological and nerve weapons in civilian areas in fucking peacetime - they have a security council veto, so there'll be little improvement.

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stephanh,

The Germans had developed nerve gas before WWII. It's one thing protecting civilians from gas that degrades relatively quickly and does most of its damage via breathing. But nerve toxins can be just as lethal if absorbed through the skin. Apparently they believed that they were behind in gas development, because they'd missed so much time when banned from having chemical weapons after WWI.

But anyway it's a lot easier to protect trained troops in relatively small discrete areas. But by WWII the tech existed to drop gas from the air on civilian targets. The disruption and casualty rates would have been catastrophic.

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No. I think she means making some sort of equivalent of the Geneva conventions on warfare. So banning cyber attacks on things like power stations and water infrastructure.

Of course, Putin is currently trying to undermine the international order on chemical weapons usage, so good luck with that. But in an ideal world it would be good if we could come up with some kind of rules on how far we go with cyber attacks. As in most of these types of cases, it doesn't so much happen because of morality, as fear of it being done back to you.

If chemical weapons could be mostly kept out of WWII, the most destructive war in history, it should equally be possible to come to some basic agreements on use of cyber weapons on basic civilian infrastructure in peacetime.

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Re: Well, with all of NATO being either personal foes or parts of the "greatest Foe"

But surely Canada are the real enemy!

From the exorbitant price of proper maple syrup destroying the great American pancake stack to Celine Dion and Justin Bieber - Canada is trying to undermine the USA at every turn. As Trump said, those bastards even burned the White House.

Isn't it obvious that the politeness is just camouflage?

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Re: Tee hee. Trump is to Putin as --

Palpy,

I don't think Trump is controlled by anybody. Including Trump. I think he just says the first thing that comes into his head. Which can make you popular for a bit as a "straight talker" - particularly against politicians who are trying to use measured language and hold consistent positions, who can be made to look shifty.

But in foreign policy none of that really works. Foreign policy is often about tiny details of nuance and repeating the same position consistently for years on end, to convince other actors to move towards your position.

Given how little of his own money Trump has in any of his ventures, which are all legally separated, if someone calls in a loan on a big project - he can just let it go bust and let the creditors suffer all the pain. If Trump owes you $100m, you're in trouble, not him. As he can just abandon the project, leaving you holding the baby.

Whether he took direct help from Russian hackers during the election is another matter.

However, in practise, Trump has said he wants closer relations with Russia but has so far failed to get them. Sanctions are slightly tougher than when he took office - and the very fact that Russia were so unsuble in their election meddling means that Trump will find it incredibly hard to move closer to Russia. Even if he really wants to. Which personally I doubt. I rather suspect he said nice things about Putin because it pissed off Clinton and made a nice point of difference between them. Which a small side order of seeing himself as a big scary alpha male like old Vlad.

I don't think there's much of a Putin masterplan either. Like Trump he seems to be all about short-term tactics. The idea isn't to get a specific person into power. It's to justify Putin's dictatorship by trying to show that democracy is equally bad. But Churchill was right. Democracy is the worst system, except for all the others.

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Submarine cables at risk from sea water, boffins warn. Wait, what?

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Re: In the name of all that's holy...

It can't be all bad, as it's the favourite word of Christopher M Biggins...

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Re: Except the USA

Nah, not Mexico. Poseidon is paying for this wall. Or possibly the Silurians?

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Given what Musk tweeted, perhaps he could be used as aggregate in the foundations of any concrete pilings required. Or perhaps the arsehole's apologised by now - in which case he should make up for being such an idiot with a free ticket on his shiny new Dragon 2 capsules. Once they've been tested.

Although if Musk is really going to go big into his tunnel drilling company, why can't he just dig some really long tunnels under all the oceans, so that they fill up with water and lower the sea levels. Who wouldn't want to go from London to New York by underwater train? Nuclear powered, naturally.

It might be best to construct Thunderbirds 2 and 4 first though.

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You wanna be an alpha... tester of The Register's redesign? Step this way

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Re: I HATE IT!!!!!11!!!111!!

And the <blink> tag added to the allowed html for comments.

I promise not to abuse it...

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Re: How about...

Please comment threading. It's so hard to make sense of the comments now. Especially if people dno't make clear who they've replied to - even just re-instating the thing that used to say who a comment was in reply to would help. Yes I know they've got a grey arrow you can click on that will move the page to the comment it replies to, but that's silly - and then you have to scroll back to where you were.

The comments are important to the site. They could do with a bit of love.

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Re: How about...

I was going to ask that. But then thought, that does encourage people to go straight to the comments having only read the headline. Which is bad, but also a punishment for any site that has clickbait headlines. El Reg tends to be more guilty of punning than clickbait - which is fine.

On t'other hand, it's good for looking at a comments thread again. Also there has been the odd article that I'm entirely uninterested in, but wish to post congratulating the subbies on the quality of thier punning.

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I HATE IT!!!!!11!!!111!!

Nah, all seems fine to me so far. Will have a go on Mr iPad sometime later today, and see how that compares.

Needs more blinking coloured text though.

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Tech team trapped in data centre as hypoxic gas flooded in. Again

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Re: Hasn't halon been banned or something in the '90s?

Ooopsie. Sorry about that. Well you learn something new every day - or unlearn something you'd remembered wrong. Just looked it up and I'd completely misremembered what halon does. It doesn't bind with all the oxygen around, it stops the fire's chemical reactions from working properly. So it's definitely safer than CO2, and can be breathed in low concentrations.

It was apparently first used in extinguishers and fire grenades in the first decade of the 20th century. I'd read mention of those before and sort of vaguely wondered what was in them.

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Re: Hasn't halon been banned or something in the '90s?

CO2 is heavier than air, and is designed to displace the oxygen and starve the fire. So if you're a giraffe you should still find breathable air above the CO2 layer.

Halon is designed to bond with all the free oxygen it can find, and so should mean that there's nothing to breath anywhere - either for you or the fire.

So CO2 sort of might be safter, ish, maybe. Except that you can become unconsious when you're breathing air with more than 4% of it, if memory serves. It's definitely safer to be down the pub...

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Re: Never do this

Sebastian P.,

You do need to have had some training. As you can make things worse with fire extinguishers if you don't know what you're doing. And you also need to raise the alarm beforehand - unless you're sure you can put the fire out in a couple of seconds (e.g. smothering a small one with a fire blanket).

But if you've got a small fire in a contained server area, that has fire-suppression gear installed - then there's a small window of time when you can try less drastic measures before hitting the big red switch.

You can put out a small petrol fire with a water extinguisher - temporarily - if you know what you're doing. But don't try. CO2 isn't much better for liquid fires, but foam, powder and blankets are good.

You should always look to your own safety, and the safety of others, first. That means getting the alarm raised, people out, and the professionals called in straight away. But with a small fire, you can often tackle it perfectly safely - but if you're not sure then by all means run for the hills and wait for the cavalry. They're trained for it, after all.

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Re: If something looks like it's about to catch fire...

Depends. If it looks like it's a small fire, you might want to try and fight it with a hand extinguisher first? Depending on what's near it. A bit of dry powder can come in very handy now and again for little fires - as that makes a mess in a well defined area. Whereas foam, water and CO2 have downsides and often spread the mess. I remember watching someone try to put out an alcohol fire with a CO2 extinguisher, and basically spread it all round the room.

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Re: Buncefield

Living 20 miles away I heard a really loud sharp metallic ringing noise, that sounded exactly like hitting the degauss button on one of those chunky old 19" monitors. As they'd been replaced with LCDs, it was only the telly downstairs was still old-school. So I zoomed down to the sitting room, wondering if it had exploded or something.

An impressively loud noise.

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Re: Reverting to type?

Who left a ladder precariously propped by the door (plus emergency buttons)?

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Re: Hasn't halon been banned or something in the '90s?

You would have thought that the BOfH would have used up all his halon by now, and have been forced to recharge his systems with something a bit more ozone friendly. Though he's probably got a source down the pub for getting hold of illegal halon. Everyone likes a drop of the hard stuff, now and then...

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AR upstart Magic Leap reveals majorly late tech specs' tech specs

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Re: But none of this answers the question...

skalamanga,

Given the context, I'm not sure I'm brave enough to click on that link. As the saying goes, a thing once seen cannot be unseen.

Toodle-pip!

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Re: But none of this answers the question...

You don't actually need to buy attachments for it. The Magic Leap will magically interface with your smart-vacuum-cleaner - which has all necesary attachments already.

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AI threatens yet more jobs – now, lab rats: Animal testing could be on the way out, thanks to machine learning

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A small digression

If you will permit me to reply to myself with a small digression to waste your time...

I was watching a discussion program on the tellybox ten years ago. About animal testing. And there was a young animal rights campaigner getting very animated about how all animal experimentation was cruel and should be immediately banned and replaced with computer modelling.

Which is basically a bollocks argument, becuase of the points I made above. We don't understand the underlying biology well enough to do this yet. We're still making mistakes, even though we're getting better.

Anyway his argument got shot down by another guest who had severe Parkinsons disease. And who said that his treatment had been developed on live gorillas - basically they practised the brain surgery techniques on them first. So the most problematic type of animal research - vivisection on higher primates.

While he was saying this he reached into his pocket and pressed a button. And he instantly transformed from a normal bloke, talking and gesturing, into this hunched and totally rigid figure, barely able to control his movements. Then he very slowly inched his hand back to his pocked and pressed the button, and instantly transformed back. He's got electrodes wired into his brain, which he'd turned off - which I hadn't even realised was possible at the time. And they stopped his muscles from going into involuntary spasm.

Our understanding of the brain on a physiological level is still pretty low sadly, so I can't see us being able to replace animal testing for drugs or surgical procedures for decades to come.

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Re: C# or Java programmers

Surely rats should program in Python?

Or at least my pet python thinks that would work nicely for him...

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Re: What's Cheaper

Computers would be cheaper. Much cheaper. If you're testing on animals you have to buy them, then buy their cages and food, keep them healthy (so as not to bugger up your data) and fill out loads of paperwork to prove you're using them ethically.

the reason we don't use computers instead of animal testing is the same reason that we don't go straight from testing drugs on tissue samples in test tubes. We don't fully understand all the interactions of all the processes we're studying, and we keep finding that reality differs slightly from out models. Therefore we have to test on animals to learn what we don't know - even though some substances have different effects on different animals.

That's why after testing on animals, we usually test on healthy humans in tiny doses, so that we can then learn yet again where our models don't fit reality.

This is why it now costs tens to hundreds of milllions of dollars to get a new drug approved for sale. It's a very long, multi-stage process, and drugs are failing at animal or initial human trials all the time - either because it turns out they don't work as well as theorised, or because they're too dangerous.

We simply don't have the knowledge to automate this process, until we understand the underlying science better.

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Re: Only 57%?

Our company did some work for an animal testing lab - and I'd argue they're not terribly logical people. The experiments which used cows were performed on the first floor, requiring a rather large lift - whereas I'd put the rats up there, and just use the stairs.

However, once you've experimented on your cows, presumably lab cleanup would be 1. Remove cows from lab 2. Get shovelling 3. Light barbeque 4. Get beer...

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Leatherbound analogue password manager: For the hipster who doesn't mind losing everything

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Re: Passwords are outdated

Apart from all the problems mentioned, it's silly to call a system (i.e. passwords) outdated, when you don't know what their replacement should be.

Now if you'd said passwords are a rubbish idea, almost everyone would agree with you. It's just that most of the other ways of doing this are rubbish as well.

I suspect there may never be a killer solution that is cheap enough to use in all circumstances, while also being very secure (total security being a mythical concept). So we'll end up picking the best of various dodgy compromises, depending on circumstances and budget.

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ICANN't get no respect: Europe throws Whois privacy plan in the trash

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No popcorn is the wrong item. Pitchforks and flaming torches are the way to deal with ICANN.

Once the board have been buried at the crossroads with stakes through their hearts, then we can find some more competent (and less greedy) people to do it. And ICANN can go back to being very boring, and slowly tweaking the odd DNS setting every so often.

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Re: Local Expertise

The ICANN board only do output nowadays. They're sitting on a huge pile of cash from the .names sale, and a steady regular income. Nobody has oversight of them, and they know it's too much of a ballache to try and move their role to the UN.

So they can just sit their commissioning reports and then ignoring them when they don't like the results. Listening is something that happens to other people. The rest of their time is spent in first-class and 5 star accommodation, increasing their bonuses every year and pissing about. It's the perfect job. Nothing changes that fast anyway, and all roads to appeal lead to a random sub-committee of the board, usually with the same people on it who made the original shit decision. See reports passim of the dot.africa clusterfuck for details.

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I think people are overestimating how much the EU care about ICANN. They're not going to destroy it, and they don't need to. All registrars in Europe will just come up with their own GDPR policies and submit whatever info they see fit to the DNS records. ICANN can't enforce their contracts, because they directly violate the law and so those clauses on DNS info become invalid.

So there are 3 basic options here. 1. ICANN then refuse to allow those registries to keep their contracts, and blow a massive amount of their revenue stream out of the water, in hopes they can find non-EU companies willing to do the job (which they won't) because then the EU can either block credit card payments to them, fine them, or set up its own version of ICANN for Europe.

Option 2 is that the EU launches a power grab over DNS. But what's the point? They're getting what they want from GDPR already. This info will no longer be submitted by the registrars, and they'll comply. DNS records will be less useful - but do you think legislators care about that?

Option 3 is therefore the most likely. Nothing much of anything will happen. The Registrars will comply with the law. ICANN will continue to flail for another few years, then eventually accept the inevitable. Grumpily, and possibly after having been hit with the fine stick. The board will continue to be smug, useless wankers, continue to increase the size of their bonuses, and when the money starts to run out will consider selling some more .name domains to raise cash.

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Google Chrome update to label HTTP-only sites insecure within WEEKS

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Re: And so Google helps making the web more INsecure

My advice is going to be, "move from Chrome to Firefox". Which I'll then have to help them do. And hope Firefox don't join in this idiocy. I'll say it's Google trying to control the internet. The last thing you want is false positives in things like security and alarms. That's why everyone ignores car and house alarms - because they're always going off when they shouldn't. It's already hard enough getting people to even think about security, let alone understanding it.

Anyway most of those people never installed Chrome. It came with an Acrobat or Flash download, as an unwanted extra...

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Re: Google Chrome

#HastagsAreBloodyAnnoying

#ThisAin'tTwitter

Not that I'm a fan of Chrome. Or sometimes disgusted with Google. Here they're using their ill-gotten monopoly power to control the internet for everyone, but with nobody's permission.

Worse, they're doing it in a stupid way. False positives in security warnings absolutely destroy security. And that idiot security researcher quotes as saying people should be able to trust all websites unless told otherwise fails to understand both people and the internet.

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RIP Peter Firmin: Clangers creator dies aged 89

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Re: Attention to detail

Why was Wordsworth the dog doing a pirate voice? Come to think of it, why did he name his dog after a poet?

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Re: Attention to detail

It's why good animation takes bloody ages.

I liked the admission from the guys behind Dangermouse (a work of true genius), that they did all those bits in dark rooms where all you can see is the eyes, because it was so much quicker and cheaper to animate.

Cosgrove Hall also did Chorlton and the Wheelies, which I loved as a kid, but nobody else seems to remember. And I think they also did Jamie and his Magic Torch - which is equally bonkers.

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Postman Pat.

Postman Pat.

Postman Pat ran over his cat!

All the guts went flying,

Postman Pat was crying,

You've never seen a cat as flat as that.

Sorry, childhood memories again.

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In that weird way of following links online, I watched an episode of Ivor the Engine on Youtube last week. And it was excellent nostalgia.

Psssssshhh-t-ccchh

Psssssshhh-t-ccchh

Bagpuss was probably my favourite, when I was very young.

Mentally drifts off happily. ...Nostalgia ain't what it used to be...

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The strange tale of an energy biz that suddenly became a blockchain upstart – and $1.4m now forfeited in sold shares

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Re: WTF

Surely climate controlled power generation could be a wind turbine.

Or, looked at another way, a giant coal fired power plant controls (effects) the climate.

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The Notch contagion is spreading slower than phone experts thought

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Re: Feature or "Feature".

So when I tell people that my nose is my best feature, I should be shutting up then?

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Re: Keep notches where they belong

Does your chewing gum lose its flavour overnight? Then store it in this handy notch!

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