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Comment Re:They are concerned about lost tax revenue? (Score 1) 366

Sales tax is more usually expressed as Value Added Tax or Goods and Services Tax in countries like Australia however they are normally categorised as consumption taxes. These are "policy" taxes with a view to taxing consumption at the end point of the chain of production (ie GST is a deductible input in the production of goods and services and so it is only the end consumer that actually "pays" the tax). It is not a question of MUST, but a question of the policy goals of the way in which the community is taxed and the simplicity of the overall tax system. There is a need to broaden the base from which government revenue is raised since Australia already has a progressive income tax system and, whilst not exactly Scandinavian in it's brutality, wage earners are already redistributing income down the curve significantly. And the introduction of GST in Australia was accompanied by a rationalisation of a wide variety of other taxes, including Sales tax in order to simplify the base from which non-income taxes were levied.

Even with the "dodged" GST talked about in this report it is much harder for dodgers of GST to dodge it effectively since they get caught on the back end when they go and buy something more "retail" where the GST is just included with no option of omission for cash.

Regarding your analysis of consumption taxes being to hide how much revenue is gathered by obfuscating the means of raising said revenue, that is a crock. Proven so by the detailed breakdown of sources of revenue provided by the Treasury on an annual and longer term basis in terms of post hoc reporting and publicly disclosed projections for policy planning purposes.

Comment Well behaved doesn't mean it is good at benchmarks (Score 1) 231

Antivirus software is a hot topic in IT security right now. Not because you need AV, but because most AV is terribly designed and breaks security in other applications. And while Windows Defender may not score particularly well on canned tests used by AV reviewers, it doesn't break as much software as other AVs do.

Remember that in order to work, AV has to inject itself all over the place in your system to intercept network activity, disk activity, etc. But if it does that at the expense of other security measures, is it really helping? As Justin Schuh said in his linked post, when Firefox implemented Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) to guard against buffer overflows, lots of AV suites disabled it by replacing Firefox's DLLs with their own which didn't feature ASLR. This stuff happens all the time, because AV vendors are always behind the curve in browser security compared to browser developers. Which isn't all that surprising if you think about it.

The upshot is, all AV software is pretty terrible. MS Defender isn't as good as some other AV suites at passing the canned tests that AV review sites throw at them. But at least it doesn't work against web browsers' built-in security measures.

Comment Time Warner Cable (Score 1) 108

TWC launched an app for Roku about three years ago. I use it on my two TVs with Roku 3's. One is on wifi, the other wired, and the video quality is as good as with a DVR. And the UI for the app is much better than on TWC's cable boxes; you can sort channels by name instead of channel number, navigation is quick and responsive, and everything is laid out logically for the D-pad instead of two dozen buttons on a normal remote. I mean, it's not exactly rocket science -- we're talking about basic TV functionality here, plus a navigable grid schedule and Pay Per View -- but everything about cable TV is so bad normally that this looks amazing by comparison.

Of course there's no guarantee Comcast won't screw it up, but if TWC managed to do a good job with it this has potential.

Comment Re:Of course not (Score 1) 190

Distributed ledgers have some value, but there are not many applications where the cost of the bitcoin approach is justified. All this talk of the blockchain in the finance industry is interesting but frankly smacks a bit too much of "me too" bandwagonism for my liking. I really struggle to understand the benefits of a distributed ledger in most financial transactions. Certainly can't understand the value with latency and volume constraints like the current bitcoin implementation.

I think public key cryptography is _vastly_ more important than the blockchain to name just one.

Comment Re:Good news. (Score 1) 80

It's a complicated question that presents me with difficulties. Let us assume that we live in a country with separate Executive, Judicial and Legislative powers. Despite failings, this is largely true of the UK. If the executive (police etc) want to spy on someone they need a legislative authority and I would like them to have a second, independent, step by which someone evaluates if the purpose of their spying is within the legislative authority. That would be a judge. I am not convinced that the Home Secretary (which is an Executive position) is the right institution to be conducting this evaluation. A judicial oversight would be more comforting methinks.

I don't have a problem with the state hacking for the purposes of investigation. Placing the existence of this capability into the public domain certainly impacts the probative value of information found on a device (the planting of false evidence becoming likewise easier). This is akin to weight of the finding of physical evidence with the probability of the planting of false physical evidence with the warranted access to a suspect's property or person. Corruption is the problem here, not the means by which it is effected.

What concerns me most of all is the creation of legal processes which are not subject to the scrutiny of public view. It is this issue that should be at the top of all the agitation about the progress of these courses of action. Secret courts or injunctions, the existence of which cannot be mentioned are frightening and indeed so Kafkaesque as to be worthy of new round of parable fiction.

Comment Re:I found another unicorn! (Score 1) 317

(51% of the water in CA is given to animal agriculture.)

Are you sure? That number seems well out of whack from my understanding of how water is used in most agricultural water systems. First you probably mean that as a percentage of the water consumed because it is unlikely that more than 50% of the water in California is consumed, most of it will be used to manage the system itself (checking facts.... yep... http://www.scpr.org/news/2015/...). So once you correct for that detail and turn to agriculture, fixed plantings and cropping are metered and use giga litres per annum but livestock water is such an insignificant amount that it's not even metered (as long as the pipe is small enough). Perhaps in the US (and the big valley in particular) feed is a big part of that cropping.... rudimentary googling suggests it is nearer to 25% than 50% and that includes alfalfa or nearer to 10% if you are measuring irrigated pastures. It's a bit different where I am from since we don't usually irrigate pasture except for dairy use.

I wholeheartedly disagree with almost everything you say, but if you are going to run the argument you may as well use facts a little closer to the reality. Who knows your argument might even hold water for some folk under those condition, if you will excuse the pun.

Comment IANAE (Score 2) 213

I am an econometrician (well sort of), which is probably worse, but at least we know that. But economics, independent of any data set availability or actual method problems, is broadly handicapped by the generally unobservable nature of the actual data that would enable the verification (or refutation) of a hypothesis. That is, much of the data is quite noisy with many variables mixed in with each other, and as such a big part of the work is trying to determine the extent to which the data itself is a useful measure of the thing being tested. Sometimes getting to a useful dataset is dependent on some awkward assumptions. As such, one of the biggest faults of Economic Theory is assuming a can opener (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assume_a_can_opener).

Ubuntu

Shuttleworth Says Snappy Won't Replace .deb Linux Package Files In Ubuntu 15.10 232

darthcamaro writes: Mark Shuttleworth, BDFL of Ubuntu is clearing the air about how Ubuntu will make use of .deb packages even in an era where it is moving to its own Snappy ('snaps') format of rapid updates. Fundamentally it's a chicken and egg issue. From the serverwatch article: "'We build Snappy out of the built deb, so we can't build Snappy unless we first build the deb,' Shuttleworth said. Going forward, Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu users will still get access to an archive of .deb packages. That said, for users of a Snappy Ubuntu-based system, the apt-get command no longer applies. However, Shuttleworth explained that on a Snappy-based system there will be a container that contains all the deb packages. 'The nice thing about Snappy is that it's completely worry-free updates,' Shuttleworth said."

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