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* Posts by ratfox

3295 posts • joined 3 Sep 2007

15 'could it be aliens?' fast radio bursts observed in one night

ratfox
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Mushroom

That much energy is equivalent to the total output of our sun over ten hours. What do we know requires the total output of a sun? Apart from Starkiller base?

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US cops can't keep license plate data scans secret without reason

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

LAPD vs LASD

Can somebody explain to me the difference between the two?

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Nest cracks out cheaper spin of its thermostat

ratfox
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Re: Colour me surprised

That puzzled me too. I can buy that it's more efficient or has more features, but I don't see how it can be easier to use...?

EDIT: I was making the assumption that normal people just set their favorite temperature and never ever change it. I now remember that American houses typically have crap insulation, which means that heat is perpetually bleeding out of your house, and people save money by not heating whenever they're not at home.

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Tech soap-opera latest: Alexa marries Cortana, will share custody of customers

ratfox
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This is good

It's very unfortunate that interoperability is often neglected, and sometimes actively sabotaged, in the hope of keeping users in walled gardens.

A typical example was Apple deliberately stopping Palm devices from accessing iTunes. After so many years, the hardware was finally compatible, so they fixed the glitch.

Nowadays, everybody's trying to be the single point of contact for everything you do, from cloud storage to music streaming. Sometimes I wonder if megacorporations will be the religions of the future, with people of the Apple church, the Alpha church, the WeChat church discouraged from socializing with each other, to prevent them from contacting unfortunate dalliances.

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US Navy develops underwater wireless battery-charging tech

ratfox
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Re: Obligatory XKCD...

Actually, in this case, considering they're practically the only customers, they can probably force this standard on the manufacturers...

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Is it possible to control Amazon Alexa, Google Now using inaudible commands? Absolutely

ratfox
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Don't the assistants reply loud and clear whenever you give them an order?

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PC sales to fall and fall and fall and fall and fall for the next five years

ratfox
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Astrology

I find claiming to predict for 2021 is a bit silly. I bet that different analysts have wildly different predictions. But hey, everybody has to earn money some way, right?

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Fewer than half GCSE computing students got a B or higher this year

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

Students plateauing

If I remember correctly, students finishing a computing GCSE also have abysmal employment rates. So my question is:

What do young people in UK do, when they are intelligent and want to learn computing?

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Paris nightclub red-faced after booze-for-boobs offer exposed

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

Re: Not unusual

Films can be kept in good condition forever though, and be used to print more pictures...?

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Sofa-jockeys given crack at virtual Formula 1 world championship

ratfox
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Happy

They should do the opposite

I'd pay good money to see a real-world Mario Kart.

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Want a medal? Microsoft 7.2% less bad at speech recognition than IBM

ratfox
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Trollface

Re: Outlook Voice Recognition

I heard that those automatic systems take into consideration the interests of the user, as extracted from their browser history, etc.

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Google's Android 8.0 Oreo has been served

ratfox
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Re: Troll much. Reg?

I assume it means that whenever you finally buy a phone with Oreo, years from now, that phone will be updated more often...

Somewhere around Android Toffee, in 2022, they'll finally have a proper system for upgrades.

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FTC wants AT&T to kick in $4bn to help balance US budget. Why? Some dodgy ads or something

ratfox
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Re: Small print

I'm not sure if it's different laws, or the common law system, but when I moved to North America, I was impressed by how often the fine print would contain these little surprises.

I'm happily back in continental Europe. I do think the advertising is less deceptive.

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Outage outed: Bing dinged, Microsoft portal mortal, DuckDuckGo becomes DuckDuckNo

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

Is StatCounter reliable?

They show Google has an improbable lead on their rivals in South Korea and Japan, while everybody else says Naver is king in SK, followed by Daum, and Google a distant third. And Yahoo is generally shown as first in Japan.

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If Anonymous 'pwnd' the Daily Stormer, they did a spectacularly awful job

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Re: Optional

Google kicked them out already.

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Google's macho memo man fired, say reports

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"He didn't say that women are on average less able in tech! He only said that different sexes are (on average) more suited for different jobs."

... Wait, how is that different? It's not that women are less able, it's that men are more suited for tech jobs?

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Google diversity memo: Web giant repudiates staffer's screed for 'incorrect assumptions about gender'

ratfox
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I remember reading that girls speak up more in math class if there's no boys in the room. It was attributed to social pressure.

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ratfox
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Re: Dare I say

Yeah... The issue is that a CV sent by a black woman gets less answers than the same exact CV sent by a white male. People's judgement is tainted by the race and gender of applicants. Which is unfair, right?

That's why recruiters get unconscious bias training, and receive special instructions to check more carefully CVs sent by women and minorities. That's unequal treatment, but arguably, more fair.

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Google drops poker face, allows gambling apps on Play Store

ratfox
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Are gambling apps allowed on iPhones? I'm not sure it would make such a big difference in market share, but maybe I underestimate how many people want to gamble with real money on their phone.

Interesting that they specify not to use Google's payments platform. Looks like they are scared of legal issues. Or maybe they worry about morals. (Seriously! Google doesn't allow ads for guns either)

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Cardiff did Nazi that coming: Hackers slap Trump, swastikas, Sharia law on e-sign

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Sorry, psycho bosses, it's not OK to keylog your employees

ratfox
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Re: Play the game

I think it's fine to have a few work questions during my breaks, the same way I think it's fine to answer a call from my wife while I'm working. If I really want a complete break, I'd probably hide myself in a corner or leave the building.

Ideally, your work should be judged by its output, and not by the amount of hours you spend at your desk. But if it's the latter, then doing something else at your desk enters a grey area, because it's not clear if you're working or not... Unless you are also marking down your hours in a timesheet (bleargh).

Regarding this particular case, I think the employer is allowed to say that while at work, at your desk, you shouldn't work for other companies. But using keylogging to catch trespassers goes too far, and that seems indeed what the court said was the problem.

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'Invisible Man' malware runs keylogger on your Android banking apps

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

I'm confused

There are banking apps that don't use 2FA?

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How can you kill that which will not die? Windows XP is back (sorta... OK, not really)

ratfox
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Windows

My father is still on XP. People he knows who changed to 10 warned him to stay away, "because everything is different".

I told him to make sure he backups often, on a NAS and on Google Drive.

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Steve Bannon wants Facebook, Google 'regulated like utilities'

ratfox
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Re: YOS!

Please never write a comment like this again. I don't know what was your point and I don't care.

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Facebook's freebie for poor people under fire again

ratfox
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"Leap of net neutrality from 'carriers shall not charge some content more' to 'poor people shall not get free partial Internet' = astounding".

I'm not sure it's astounding; in the very minimum, it's technically correct... I mean, the point of net neutrality rules is that you shouldn't offer a data service where your own content is privileged over other people's content, because it's an unfair competition between the two types of content, right?

That said, I think there are plenty of places that offer you free wifi, but only to look at the company's website. Does that infringe on net neutrality?

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Google goes home to Cali to overturn Canada's worldwide search result ban

ratfox
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Re: Extra-territorial control

Note that the counterfeiting is illegal globally, not just in Canada.

Maybe, but France is also asking Google to remove results globally, and that's to respect the European right to be forgotten, which does not exist in the rest of the world.

Google is probably terrified of having such requests escalate to completely trivial things like lèse-majesté laws in Thailand, and that's why they're fighting every lawsuit.

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ratfox
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Re: Extra-territorial control

Canada isn't the only country who wants to control what Google shows in other countries. France has also asked Google to remove results globally, related to the so-called right to be forgotten. The issue is only going to grow.

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Facebook may print money but thirsty Wall Street wants more

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Re: All that lovely advertising lucre

Is it even necessary to be on Facebook to earn them money? I think that like Google, they have adverts on third-party sites, with profiles built by tracking your IP on third-party sites. No Facebook account needed.

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the reason of Facebook's success was the data it gathers from third-party websites, rather than what they find on their own site. People might well display more honestly their tastes while surfing the web than with their curated image on a social network.

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Microsoft ctrl-Zs 'killing' Paint, by which we mean offering naff app through Windows Store

ratfox
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Good

I honestly don't understand why Apple doesn't include MacPaint with their OS anymore. It used to be the best app in the system.

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Legal boffins poke holes in EU lawmaker's ePrivacy proposals

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Re: I don't want to be told I'm being tracked. I want the option to tell them "No"

That makes me a cash cow and them the farmers.

...On the other hand, it is by and large what pays for the internet. Of all the websites you visit, how many are you paying for?

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$30 million below Parity: Ethereum wallet bug fingered in mass heist

ratfox
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Thanks for the article, it helps me feel better about not getting into Bitcoin when it was at $1!

It's a complicated feeling to be happy about problems with a system you didn't participate to and that would have made you millionaire if you had. Maybe. There must be a German word for that.

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Amazon may still get .amazon despite govt opposition – thanks to a classic ICANN cockup

ratfox
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Pity the xxx TLD is the one they let through. It was the most useless move ever. It's completely irrelevant, except for the registrar who somehow got the rights for it, and made a small amount of money before everybody realized it was useless.

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Tapping the Bank of Mum and Dad: Why your Netflix subscription is poised to rise (again)

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Re: Uber

Indeed. For all the advantages Uber has over traditional taxi companies, there's not much that they do which is revolutionary or difficult to emulate. The biggest advantage they have is the number of users... But then, Groupon also had a lot of users at some point.

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Google must cough up contact info for 8,000 employees in gender discrimination case

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WTF?

Seriously?

The law is not that men and women should be treated equally regardless of competence. It is that people of equal competence should be treated equally regardless of gender.

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ratfox
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Re: We must be doing it wrong.

I'm sure if I was a Google partner, I could pull millions of people's personal information for advertising purposes no sweat.

Think again. Google doesn't let anybody see that data, because it's much more valuable if they are the only one to know it.

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Guess who doesn't have to pay $1.3bn in back taxes? Of course it's fscking Google

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Trollface

we all know France doesn't like capitalism and much prefers state subsidy/regulation that suits it's own industries and agriculture

Right. Unlike the UK, who never complained about how little tax money they get from Google.

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ratfox
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Re: Change the law, then

Well, the French can't change the law by themselves, but they might manage to convince Germany that the European law should have an exception for multi-national corporations that have a presence in the country.

It would be a huge burden for small companies to have to declare taxes in every country, and that is why the treaties were written as they were. But companies like Google already have a presence in every country and are paying taxes on that. For them, it would be absolutely not difficult at all to declare in each country what they earn there. The reason they don't do it is not that it would be a huge operational burden, it's really only because they would pay more tax.

In a sense, my suggestion is a bit similar to the presence laws created in the US to force Amazon to collect sales tax. It used to be Amazon did not collect sales tax in most states, because sales tax on interstate transactions is supposed to be paid by the buyer. Then laws were written to say that if the company had any presence whatsoever in the state, even just a warehouse, then it shouldn't count as an interstate transaction, and the company had to collect sales tax. In the beginning, Amazon tried to only have a presence in a small number of states, but now they gave in and are collecting sales tax everywhere.

Forcing companies to declare revenue earned in the country, in each country where they have a presence, would not affect small companies; but it would prevent large corporations from shopping around for the best tax deal.

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ratfox
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Change the law, then

There are good reasons why a small company based in Ireland can sell services in other European countries without going to the trouble of declaring and paying tax in multiple places. This is an obvious way to make the economy more efficient. It makes sense even when there are third-parties in each country who help sell those products.

But the way it is now, nothing stops Google from having 700 employees in France who act like travel agents and help the French choose which contract they want to sign with Google Ireland. And the 700 travel agents receive a small compensation for their work, for which they duly pay tax.

I'm pretty certain that the UK saw nothing wrong with the whole idea, and in fact thought they would profit a lot, having relatively low corporate taxes. They just never saw Ireland coming from behind.

Now, if we want to change the situation, we need to change the law. Maybe something like "if the company controls a subsidiary with a significant number of employees in the country, then the revenue must be declared in that country". Lawmakers should stop complaining, and act.

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Just in time for summer boozing: Boffins smash world record for the most perfect ice cubes

ratfox
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Devil

an important process that could improve climate change models

I've read too many papers with the word could thrown about. Sometimes, they even use could potentially, and then you know it's even more far-fetched.

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OMG, dad, you're so embarrassing! Are you P2P file sharing again?

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Re: Youtube

What I don't get, is why bother with ripping the audio stream when you can listen to it at any time on YouTube? It's already free.

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UberPOP is Finnished in Helsinki until 2018

ratfox
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Seize the personal assets of the exec to punish the company? That's an interesting move. I wonder if it's common in Finland, or if there was some particular circumstances.

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European MPs push for right to repair rules

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There are good reasons why batteries often cannot be replaced easily.

With phone and laptop makers competing on who can put the largest battery in the thinnest device, the requirement of having the battery be a single big block is pretty devastating. If the battery is distributed in small chunks around the device, you can get a lot more power with less overheating problems.

Making devices easy to repair comes at a cost, which is either less power, or bigger sizes. And let's be honest, it's a small fraction of people who care so much about repairing their phones.

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Get the Canuck out: Vancouver vows Airbnb, Expedia crackdown

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Re: Oh what we don't talk about.

Yeah, contrary to San Francisco, the problem is that a lot of Vancouver's homes are empty. They just exist as speculative investment, and as a way to use their money out of China.

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TfL, WTH is my bus? London, UK, looks up from its mobile

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

Why the complex technical solution? Aren't printouts of the timetable displayed at bus stops?

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NASA: Bring on the asteroid, so we can chuck a fridge at it

ratfox
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Program scientist Tom Statler says the experiment won't “change the orbit of the pair around the sun”.

This makes no sense to me. If they change the movement of the smallest asteroid, without changing that of the biggest one, then surely they are changing the total movement of the pair.

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Europe seeks company to monitor Google's algorithm in €10m deal

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Re: really? this is what they nail Google for?

I assume the difference is that online commerce is where the money is.

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French general accused of nicking fast jet for weekend trips to the Sun

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To be honest, I suspect that £500 per flight is relatively small potatoes compared to how much expense budget a general disposes of. Though I don't know how often he's done it.

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The bloke behind Star Fox is building a blockchain based casino. No, really

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

But does it do a barrel roll?

(body)

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No way to sugarcoat this: I'm afraid Uranus opens and closes to accept particle streams

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Coat

Uranus is a giant

and contains a lot of gas

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Robocall spammers, you have one new voicemail message: Cut it out!

ratfox
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Wow

Not only they would be able to call anyone indiscriminately, but since it's just a voice message and not an actual conversation, they can just play a recording to your voicemail.

I'm curious to see if Idiot Pai dares wave this through. That would send a fantastic message.

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