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Cameron Accuses Internet Companies Of Giving Terrorists Safe Haven

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Also ban cars (178 comments)

Yes, the rhetoric for this week's episode of "Theresa May had an idea" has been particularly silly.

The statistics trotted out over the past week or so make for interesting, if depressing, reading.

For example, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, a very senior officer with counter-terrorism responsibilities, says they've been prevented on average one terrorist attack per year but so far this year it's been 4-5 already. (It's not clear whether this was in the specific context of "lone wolf" attacks, though.)

Just hours apart from that, we have Theresa May herself saying that almost 40 major terrorist attacks have been foiled since the 7/7 bombings, giving an average of about four per year. This means, she says, that the UK is facing the biggest terrorism threat in its history, which might be surprising to anyone who was around during the worst of the troubles with the IRA not so long ago. There are plenty of scary messages played over the PA system when you go through any major London railway station these days, but not frequent closures due to actual bomb threats and the like.

Also on Monday, there was a statement from Met Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley citing 271 arrests resulting from counter-terrorism investigations so far this year. Their Commissioner seemed to be implying in the above statement that all of these had led to charges, too. What they don't seem to have mentioned anywhere in this week's PR campaign is how many such arrests ultimately lead to convictions, nor how many of those convictions (or the arrests or charges themselves) are actually for terrorism offences.

The combined budget for our security services reportedly remains somewhere around the £2B mark, not counting additional funding for counter-terrorism units within other organisations such as the police.

In other news, in 2013 (the last full year for which stats are available) there were 1,713 people killed on our roads, and a further 21,657 seriously injured, not to mention damage to the economy estimated in the £15-30B range as a result of the disruption due to incidents on the road. Would anyone like to guess what's been happening to the annual road safety publicity budget in recent years?

yesterday
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ads (306 comments)

OK, so maybe I spend a lot of time reading Slashdot and want money for it. That doesn't mean you actually owe me anything for reading this post, which I have nevertheless taken the time to write, nor that it is unethical for you not to pay me. I simply don't have any reasonable expectation that by contributing a post and allowing Slashdot to publish it and you to read it, I will then be financially compensated.

yesterday
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Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Already making waves (107 comments)

It would appear that these professionals with jobs had better learn to deal with moving targets.

Why? There is no commercial advantage in repeatedly expending resources updating your software or intranet sites just to keep pace with the whims of some browser maker.

Whatever certain browser makers would like to happen, as the likes of Windows XP, IE6, and later IE8 demonstrated very clearly, staying with software that works for an extended period is a viable and sometimes very attractive option, even if it comes with significant disadvantages in other respects. Large organisations often work with multi-year roll-out plans for new technologies that will affect many staff or critical business functions, and they aren't going to be the slightest bit impressed by a browser vendor shouting, "But we push new features every six weeks!"

Stability and compatibility no longer exist in the old fashioned way.

Sure they do. They just don't exist if you give your business to organisations like Google, and the kind of web developer that relies on bleeding edge frameworks and joining the dots has no idea how to provide them.

Of course, this is good for those of us who make a lot of money offering businesses better solutions to their real problems using tried and tested technologies. It's not as glamorous, but it sure pays well if you can help your clients get stuff done without technology issues they simply don't care about getting in the way all the time.

TL;DR: Google, Mozilla and their fans wish that professional organisations would see these new developments and choose to adopt Chrome or Firefox as a result. What really happens in many cases is that those organisations see these new developments and say "OK, we'll just stick with IE, which version do we pin at to keep everything working?" and then throw lots of money at organisations like Microsoft that understand the real world needs and provide long term support accordingly.

yesterday
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Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Already making waves (107 comments)

Cisco has more than enough software devs to remedy this in a years time.

This is a huge problem with this whole debate. People who work on certain browsers want the rest of the world to just dump 20 years of software history, significant amounts of which is still in use and doing its job just fine today, and spend what would collectively be a vast amount of time and money rewriting everything just to run on this week's trendy platform instead.

Newsflash: Professionals with jobs to do value stability and backward compatibility. They probably value their tried and tested software a lot more than a flashy port to your "living standard" platform. They certainly value tried and tested software a lot more than your latest technique for animating SVGs in demos that still doesn't scale up enough to use it in real applications without becoming unusably slow anyway.

See also: Why IE is still so dominant in business browsing, even versions from several years ago, and why neither Firefox nor Chrome got much traction in business at all until they started playing nicely with grown-up sysadmin tools.

2 days ago
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Google Chrome Will Block All NPAPI Plugins By Default In January

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Which 6? (107 comments)

This is all too true, unfortunately. Java plug-ins have become increasingly obnoxious about security in recent releases, to the point that software that used to work just fine is now very awkward to use, and both Google and Oracle keep saying things that boil down to "we'll stop it completely, sometime, maybe".

What everyone seems to forget is how many serious/critical vulnerabilities quietly get patched in the major browsers each update. Go ahead and check the change logs. Thinking browsers themselves won't simply take over as the target as they incorporate some of these new features directly is like thinking you're immune to malware because you run Linux.

2 days ago
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ads (306 comments)

It is not illegal to be a freeloader it just means that you take without giving back.

Nonsense. I also run web sites. None of them is ad-funded. Some of them don't generate any "revenue" at all beyond good will and sometimes entertaining or useful discussions with others who share my interests.

In short, I "give back" in exactly the way I "take".

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Practices For Starting and Running a Software Shop?

Anonymous Brave Guy Class projects vs. professional projects (176 comments)

The pay cheque isn't the important thing. Experience working in a professional environment is. The difference between how you work on a class project and how you work in a professional environment is vast.

For example, class projects are typically:

- very small

- implemented by a single person or at most a very small team that does not change over the lifetime of the project

- finished within a short period of time

- built with unchanging requirements determined by a single authority and entirely known from the start

- implemented with little need or regard for ongoing maintenance.

Exactly none of those things will be true of a typical industrial software development project. The need to take these kinds of factors into consideration completely changes how you design your software, what tools you use, what processes you follow...

3 days ago
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ads (306 comments)

It seems you forgot to quote the later part of that post, where I did acknowledge the problem of content that comes malware-laden... Personally, I don't buy AAA games any more (nor do I pirate them instead). I got bored of the generally poor quality and accompanying malware breaking things a few years ago. Given the comments I see every time gamers' enjoyment of a big new title is spoiled because someone's DRM screwed up again, I suspect my life is still better that way. However, I do miss and would gladly pay for the kind of experience I used to enjoy from the top end games of yesteryear, before everything went downhill when the Internet became an excuse for shipping software that wasn't finished yet (we'll just patch it later, or not) and using ever more obnoxious DRM schemes (of course we can expect gamers to be online with a perfect connection any time they're playing our game).

5 days ago
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ads (306 comments)

Of course they are. But the fact is that when the law says things are required to work a certain way, and everyone knows the deal up-front, breaking that law is a different issue to just not doing something entirely voluntary that someone else would have preferred you to do.

Laws may not perfectly follow morals and ethics, but the intent is that they do at least reflect them reasonably well and provide a common standard for acceptable behaviour that everyone knows.

5 days ago
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ads (306 comments)

So far, I don't see a lot of that happening. Occasionally I see sites begging you to turn your ad-blocker off, and if they're sites I like then I do have some sympathy.

Unfortunately, from bitter personal experience, ad networks are a threat. There is currently no way to reliably distinguish which parts are dangerous soon enough, so the default safest option is to block the lot.

Very occasionally, I do find a site that doesn't work properly because of the things I block, and then I just go somewhere else instead. Exactly zero sites I need to use have this problem, or rely on ads at all for that matter. It would be sad if all those ad-funded sites went away, but frankly it wouldn't break the Internet and whatever replaced them would probably be a better model for all concerned (except middle-man ad networks).

5 days ago
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ads (306 comments)

So how does this not make you a worthless freeloader?

I may be literally worthless to such sites. I just don't think they ever had a reasonable expectation that I would be any more than that, any more than someone paying for an ad on a billboard has a reasonable expectation that every driver will stop and read it, or any TV advertiser has a reasonable expectation that no-one is going to go take a leak during the ad break.

There is no law requiring someone to give their time to the ads just because they are there, and there never has been, making this a fundamentally different situation to copyright infringement, fraud, or whatever other bad analogies people are throwing around in today's discussion.

Ultimately, if someone wants a promise to be paid in return for their work, there are a number of options available to them, starting with charging for it just like every other industry in the world that produces value. And if the work has some modest value to a lot of people but the overheads of formally charging are too great, there are plenty of other ways to accumulate minor contributions without spamming disreputable ad networks all over your site.

5 days ago
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Google Launches Service To Replace Web Ads With Subscriptions

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ads (306 comments)

Just like all the people who "share" music or software without paying the artists/creator a dime for their work.

Not really.

One obvious difference is that the law generally prohibits copying a copyrighted work without complying with the copyright holder's terms for payment etc. There is no analogous law about downloading freely available content without viewing the ads, unless you want to start arguing that the implicit permission to access that content does not apply if you don't view the ads as well, which is quite the can of worms to open.

Another obvious difference is that buying a legal copy of a creative work does not in itself subject me to severely degraded system performance, wasting arbitrary amounts of bandwidth I'm already paying for on things I didn't ask for, or assorted security and privacy risks. Not blocking ads and trackers on-line does all of these things. (Obviously some content comes with DRM and similar malware that also does some or all of these things, but let's not conflate buying from dubious sources with buying at all.)

5 days ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ask the credit card for a refund (306 comments)

It might not seem fair, but the fact is that levying a fee for any claimed chargeback was the industry norm for a long time, regardless of the final outcome. Remember, the card payments industry is fundamentally and systemically screwed up, and approximately 99.9% of the time it's the merchant who is the screwee when things go wrong whether or not they have actually done anything wrong.

As far as I'm aware, it's only relatively recently that some card payments services have been more fair about this and started imposing the fee only for successful chargebacks.

about a week ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Meet Streisand (306 comments)

I know it's Blackpool, but still, no one should expect much for 36 pounds.

You say that, but there are plenty of local B&Bs and some of the big national chains like Premier Inn that would charge little more than that for a night off season and still offer decent accommodation and a good breakfast. Short stay accommodation is a fiercely competitive market in Blackpool, and prices really can be much lower than similar places in most of the UK.

about a week ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Ask the credit card for a refund (306 comments)

I was told there was nothing I could do.

It looks like you need to use a better card payment service. Although the chargeback system is certainly horribly biased against honest merchants and vulnerable to abuse, you can still dispute any chargeback, and any serious card payment service will surely provide for this.

Also worth knowing:

1. Some payment services these days will waive the chargeback fee if you successfully defend the charge.

2. If you use 3-D Secure to authenticate the buyer, then chargeback liability shifts to the financial companies rather than you as the merchant under most circumstances.

So the situation here is at least a bit better for honest merchants than it used to be.

about a week ago
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UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Not quite true (306 comments)

I'm guessing from your comments on the £100 figure that you're referring to the protections under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (the one making your credit card company liable along with the retailer under certain conditions, if you buy something using your card). That's a useful law to know, but in this case it doesn't seem necessary.

The small print supposedly enabling the "fine" here is almost certainly a straight-up unfair term in a consumer contract, and as such it would not be binding on the consumer according to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

In practice the quickest way to get the matter resolved might be to ask the card company to charge the "fine" back, and given that the chargeback system is heavily loaded against merchants this seems likely to succeed.

If that doesn't work, a small claims court action might be entertaining, but as with any low value legal action there is unfortunately a high probability that the time and hassle of finding your way around that system and going to court if necessary would far outweigh any financial benefit you might gain by the end of it, unless you've done this sort of thing before and so already know how it works.

(I'm not a lawyer, so obviously check that the above is still correct if this affects you, but this situation is so clear-cut...)

about a week ago
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Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Real investments come with guidance (473 comments)

Sad, but true. Sadder still that "after the servers have been shut down" can be a very short time after the game has been bought.

about a week ago
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Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Real investments come with guidance (473 comments)

Personally, I agree. If I want to play a game or watch a movie, I buy it. If I don't think it's worth the money, I move past it and do something else instead.

It therefore annoys me greatly when software or a movie or music I've paid good money for then doesn't work properly and DRM or unskippable ads or whatever it is this week actively give me a worse experience than someone who pirates. This is a significant part of the reason I haven't bought a new AAA game from a big studio for many years, and I only buy DRM-free music formats.

Sadly, I suspect we are in a minority and a lot of people still don't see why they should pay for something they can easily get for free, often with a better experience, without much real downside.

about a week ago
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Elite: Dangerous Dumps Offline Single-Player

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:Real investments come with guidance (473 comments)

Your strawman about wages is irrelevant. I said nothing about the individual staff working on game development -- who, as you said, do seem to be treated very badly by certain large employers in the gaming industry. (For completeness, perhaps it is fair to note at this point that Frontier Developments is local to me here in Cambridge, UK and does not have that kind of reputation for mistreating its staff as far as I'm aware.)

In any case, that is an entirely separate issue to the one I raised, where the big businesses in the gaming industry are now spending staggering amounts of money to develop and market a AAA title. When that kind of money is involved, their management is likely to choose safer bets, even if that means some genres and the gamers who enjoy them now lose out.

I don't know the financial model of this particular game. I have found widespread reports that each newsletter seems to ask for more payment for something, so it seems clear that someone has at a minimum misjudged the pricing model and the presentation/PR side of the project. But these guys are industry vets, so it would be naive to think they aren't aware of the general trends in the industry and likely to react to them. Again, it seems like they probably made a mistake in how they handled that reaction in this particular case.

about a week ago
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Japanese Maglev Train Hits 500kph

Anonymous Brave Guy Re:But is high speed rail a *good* public investme (418 comments)

There are hundreds of thousands of junctions in the UK. 10s of projects does not make any significant difference.

Sure they do. Some junctions carry several orders of magnitude more than others.

And for the kind of money we're talking about for HS2, you could do a lot more than 10s of these projects. The entire A14 upgrade through Cambridgeshire -- a single project spanning many miles of a major trunk route -- only has an estimated budget in the region of £1B, about 2% of HS2, and this is work that has been delayed for years because of the cost despite a crazy number of accidents, many of them fatal, happening on the existing A14 corridor every year.

I figured that's what you were doing. Yet local roads are significant. Few journeys start and end by a motorway or dual-carriageway.

No they don't. But again different roads carry vastly different volumes of traffic. When the M25 was effectively closed a few days ago because an overnight repair didn't set properly, there were 16 miles of tailbacks, across 3-4 lanes, for several hours. That is roughly equivalent to gridlocking an entire small city for an entire working day.

And what of the M4 bus lane scheme, where it was deemed that using fewer lanes for cars actually speeded up the cars journeys?

You go with the evidence, of course. I'm not saying building more roads is always the answer to congestion or inefficiency in the road network. On the contrary, as I wrote before, traffic engineering is sometimes a surprising field with counter-intuitive results.

My point throughout this discussion is simply that high speed rail is in many senses a very expensive type of infrastructure to build, and there are certainly alternative uses for those resources that might plausibly give much better returns. Improving the road network is merely one possibility, and as you just demonstrated, there are useful improvements that can be made that don't necessarily involve building new roads.

about a week ago

Submissions

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YouTube blocking premium music videos in UK

Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "What happens when the might of Google clashes with the might of Big Media? We're about to find out: after failing to negotiate a licensing deal with the PRS (one of the UK's collective licensing bodies for music), YouTube has simply pulled the plug, and as of 6pm Monday, premium music videos will start disappearing for visitors from the UK. From the BBC article, it seems the PRS asked for an unspecified but large increase in the royalties, and when Google worked out that they would actually be losing money on the service at that price, they firmly declined. The PRS has asked YouTube to reconsider as a "matter of urgency"."
Link to Original Source
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Virgin's demise: illustrating the problem with DRM

Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "The BBC have an interesting article up today about the demise of Virgin Digital, which has offered music on a monthly subscription system, and how this is leaving their customers in a jam because they signed up to a DRM-based subscription service. This is no doubt not a new concern to many here, but it's the second real-life example of such a service folding within a matter of weeks, and interesting that a well-regarded mainstream news source is now openly condemning DRM and vendor lock-in, and advising people to avoid such services."
Link to Original Source
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Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "The BBC reports that CD-Wow, the third largest on-line music retailer in the UK after Amazon and Play, has been found in contempt of court for selling illegally imported CDs into the UK. Describing the verdict as "CD woe", the company claimed that all they were doing was bringing CDs into the UK that had been legitimately purchased from the big media companies elsewhere, with any breach of copyright down to human error, and that "At a time when the record industry is losing vast revenue to piracy, it seems ludicrous that they can set out to destroy a section of the market that is actually making them money.""
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Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, a large-scale, government-commissioned review of the current IP framework in the UK, has today published its final report. The report itself doesn't seem to be available yet, but the government's response (which includes a summary of the Gowers recommendations) is contained in the pre-budget report, linked from the same site.

Highlights include: proposing much stronger enforcement/penalties for infringement of IP rights, possibly including a fast-track litigation process and up to 10 years in prison for on-line copyright infringement; introducing a "private copying" exception to legalise format-shifting; and a recommendation that the European Commission should not extend copyright protection in sound recordings and performers' rights any further than the existing 50 years.

The government seems to be endorsing the Gowers recommendations pretty much in their entirety, and in particular has acknowledged the recommendation on not extending copyright terms via the European back door."
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Anonymous Brave Guy Anonymous Brave Guy writes  |  more than 8 years ago

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) writes "It looks like Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket, is planning to take on software giants like Microsoft with a new range of cheap, own-brand software covering office apps, photo editing and more. Tesco's Daniel Cook said, "When it comes to software there is little choice and prices are high. Our new range of software changes this." There's no sign yet on Tesco's web site, but an October date is mentioned in the BBC article. Sounds like a good time to be buying sell options... But in which company?"

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