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Comment If you live in London, Instapaper is cool (Score 2) 18

I've been using Instapaper as an offline reader for several years on my phone. This is because I have an underground train journey of about 40mins each way, during which time I have no network connectivity. Instapaper is pretty sweet, and it's rare that I save an article that it's not able to render later on. I collect a backlog of articles for my phone which I then read on the train.

If Pintrest fuck it up I shall rage hard, but I'm sure there are offline readers elsewhere. Instapaper is quite well designed though (both visually and functionally, although I thought their "tilt scrolling" experiment was a bit weird.

Comment Re:Priorities (Score 1) 146

"with an automatic repeal in case success is not achieved or evaluated"

While I think that's actually a pretty good idea (and see also the discussions about randomised control trials in social policy), but it may lead to a "ratchet effect" occurring. This is because, basically, the only thing elected officials can do is legislate in reaction to anything. Something bad happens? Pass a law to ban it.

So if a law doesn't have the desired effect, it may well be seen to have been too mild. Kids still viewing porn because porn sites have moved off shore? Make it illegal to register a .uk domain without proof of business intent, and then block all non .uk domains with a Great Firewall unless citizens supply a one-time code based on their passport number to access them. And so it continues in a race to the bottom...

Comment Re:as an american sysadmin, how does this work? (Score 2) 146

"They only decide what has to be done. Not how it has to be done."

It's getting worse than that in fact. In many cases, politicians seem to know their policies can't in fact be executed, but they don't really care. This is because the simple act of pushing for legislation (enacted or not) is enough to do the job of getting people to vote for them. It's like the Trump Wall: there is no way that Trump and his team actually think they'll be able to build the wall. They just know that all they have to do is be seen to be keen on it, then let "politics" ruin it in one of a zillion ways (budgetary opportunity costs, legal obstruction, etc. etc) when the time comes.

What's amazing though (and I think this is recent) is how such promises have become so disposable. Most politicians seem to now be perfectly OK in ditching policy intentions. After all, if you don't believe in your own policies, it's easy to ditch them once you realise they have outlived their usefulness on the campaign trail - and later on there will always be some distraction you can use to make sure enough people either don't remember or don't care about what you said before.

Truly - this political world we're in is just awful.

Comment Re:futile (Score 4, Interesting) 146

"This is the brainchild of Andrea Leadsom, one of the two final contestants for leadership of the Tory party..."

Who by current indications will be eating a boiled kangaroo's anus on I'm A Celebrity in about 12 month's time. This, however, is only a tiny compensation for the fact that Teresa May will become PM.

On a general note, what can be done about the policy ratchets that these people advocate? That is, the belief that things are bad because the policies that brought them about (eg financialisation, under investment in social infrastructure, wealth concentration, mass surveillance, censorship, etc.) were simply not implemented hard enough.

This is the essence of what people like May and Leadsom believe: like a sort of Taliban approach to politics. Corporation tax in the UK is lower than almost anywhere in the EU and we have intense austerity policies partly as a result. So what do we do - we lower it some more because *obviously* the economy isn't getting better as a result of the previous lowering. What happens if we lower corporation tax to zero then? Where is the evidence that these policies are working as they are right now, let alone that they will work better for being all the more extreme?

Comment Petty much the elephant in the room (Score 2) 278

I'm a UI designer, and I find it amazing that almost very business I've worked for is happy to fling huge amounts of cash at creating native apps without even wanting to answer the obvious question their customers will ask: "Why should I download this?"

So far in pretty extensive customer research, the best that anyone can come up with is an offline condition (eg MailOnline's news app allows you to download news and read it 1995 style), speed (they think it's somehow faster) and a kind of ragged notion of better aesthetics. After that it's a grab bag of slightly better maps integration, the convenience of a shortcut on the desktop, and (for the business) avoiding the Google tax that your web app will have to pay if you want to sell anything online. Statistically, it's also known that some apps (mainly news ones) will get huge usage from a tiny (and usually numerically static) fanbase.

But that's about it.

It's all so weird. So wasteful and strange - but I'll design 'em if they want 'em (I've given up pushing back).

Comment Don't worry - Apple will end up like Microsoft (Score 1) 428

Just as Microsoft drifts along in a sort of commercial terminal velocity, so too will Apple.

Tech companies that size can't do anything dramatically good or bad in the short to medium term because of their size. There are no dramatic systemic risks in their business model or market either - unlike oil companies with their exploding wells, or pharma companies with their lethal drugs.

Few companies last more than a couple of generations in any case. I would expect Apple to be around in a quasi-zombie state for about another 30 years or so before being broken up into a bunch of smaller obscure entities - a bit like IBM probably. Or Standard Oil... Kodak... Rockwell...

Comment Re:cost and benifit (Score 4, Insightful) 74

If it's any help (and if you're referring to desktop Windows computers behind standard domestic NAT-ed router/firewalls), then with the exception of WSE since it came out (WinVista?), I've *never* run anti-virus on any Windows installation in our 4-person home in over 20 years.

About once a year I boot each machine from something like Trinity Rescue Disk and run a sweep using two or three different anti-virus packages. This might come up with perhaps one or two low-risk infections (usually Java), but that's it.

I assume therefore that if the people using the machines are not in the habit of visiting certain types of website, and aren't inclines to open attachments they're not expecting, then all will be well.

Comment Re:Is it part of the uncoordinated coordination? (Score 1) 75

"Just wish we would just scrap the elections and just sell the elections to the highest bidder at this point."

I'm too lazy to Google for it now, but I quite liked the idea of giving all voters in elections a fixed number of "tokens" which they could give to candidates who stood for office. The tokens could then be redeemed by the candidates for funding from the state for their subsequent election campaigns. A sort of pre-election election. Think that guy looks interesting? Toss him one of your tokens and see if he comes up with a compelling campaign to persuade him to vote for you.

Comment Re:My amalgam fillings have lasted a while. (Score 1) 75

I have nine amalgam fillings given to me when I was between the ages of 6 and 9 by a private dentist in the USA. I then went to school in the UK and had checkups twice a year on the NHS, and not a single filling installed since then. I'm 49 now, and with the exception of a recent chip out of the back of a molar, I've been fine. I haven't seen a dentist once in over 20 years.

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