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Comment If there's no deal, the UK leaves without a deal (Score 1) 46

No. The Lisbon Treaty on the procedure for leaving the EU can be summarised as: "the state wishing to leave shall bend over and pick up the soap." - now, technically, it was a bit silly to sign up to that, but at the time nobody thought that the UK PM would be stupid enough to call a Brexit referendum and, even if they did, no PM would be gormless enough to lose such a referendum, and even if they lost the referendum no PM would be stupid enough to pretend that they were obliged to pay more than lip service to the result of an advisory referendum.

More specifically, the procedure under the treaty is:

(1) UK invokes Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty saying it wants to leave. The PM has said she'll do that in March.
(2) Then the UK gets to negotiate a deal for leaving that, yes, has to be passed by the European Parliament "or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period."
(3) At that point, the UK parliament may be given the option to approve the deal or reject it.

So, once Article 50 is invoked, the only way Brexit doesn't happen in March 2019 is if the European Council unanimously decides to extend the deadline. If that doesn't happen, and (predictably) the deal negotiations go to the wire then the only choice that the UK parliament will have in step (3) is "take the deal on offer or crash out of the EU with no agreement causing maximum chaos and confusion".

Oh, and note that the "deal" isn't necessarily this mythical trade deal that gives us access to the single market - according to some EU politicians we can't start talking about that until after we've actually left (and, in any case, negotiating such a deal in 2 years would be a new world record). No, this will just be things like who gets the cat, who gets the record collection and what happens to all the EU citizens living in the UK and all the UK citizens living in the EU (probably they'll get to go home on alternate Saturdays).

Comment Re:Silly question (Score 1) 184

he result is that you simply cannot ANSWER the question "is government data reliable" - there's just no single answer.

And partly because there's no single data set or even data repository, in the government or out of the government. A lot of data is gathered elsewhere specifically to sanity check other data, and in some cases data is gathered for another purpose but happens to overlap with data gathered for another purpose, allowing comparisons and checks for sanity.

It's probably not even within the realm of the possible to cook the raw data even if you wanted to because there's just too much of it in too many places and significant deviations from comparison data would expose it.

The larger risk isn't corruption of the data itself or even its gathering, it's false narratives built with good data. You can't challenge the veracity of the data itself, you have to argue against the conclusions made and that's much more difficult.

Comment Re:Back Up! Back Up!... (Score 1) 140

The problem with really good backup strategies is they are also really expensive, being demanding of disk I/O and disk capacity. We joke sometimes that based on usage patterns, many customers should run production on backup storage and backups to production storage because backup uses more IOPS, throughput and capacity than primary.

I don't know what their systems or processes are like in St Louis or what they had to restore, but a smaller library I worked with once had something like 5 TB of production data (basic LUN consumption for their VM environment).

A total restore from disk backup capable of aggregate throughput of 100 MB/sec is in the neighborhood of 13 hours for that much data, and I would say for most places a backup storage, system and primary storage environment capable of running restores at that rate is pretty impressive, usually it bogs someplace in the backup software (assembling data from incremental chains, decompression or something).

Improving on that can be done, but it's never cheap -- secondary production-quality storage that holds frequent replicas, for example, but it requires more storage and more money, and even if its not right, budget realities often prevent a customer from buying 2-3x needed production-quality capacity to store this.

Comment Re:Regular Taxi Service fears.. (Score 1) 624

I know it's a terrible way to negotiate a car *price*, but I often find myself thinking about some of these bigger ticket items in terms of cash flow and "how little can I pay per month?"

There are some risks with this thinking, especially with depreciable assets with a limited lifetime, but there are times where I wish I could refinance my mortgage for a 50 year term just to cut the monthly payment down as low as possible to increase my cash flow here and now.

I'm biased, because my mortgage is half paid and I figure even if only added another 5% in equity over the next 10 years the present value of the extra cash would be more valuable than the savings on interest payments, plus by the time I sell the overall appreciation in value will still result in getting my purchase price back in cash.

Comment Not quite (Score 1) 93

There's no voice, only text and data. Reason voice is excluded has to do with archaic regulations as best as I can tell. Things are changing in that regard so it'll probalby change at some point. However right now you get talk to and from the US, Canada, and Mexico. Everywhere else voice is extra charge. Text and data are available in most countries and are included with no extra charge.

Comment Re:Dear UK cell phone travelers... (Score 1) 93

...is it true that the cell company Three allows unlimited data when roaming in the US? Has anyone tried using hundreds of gigs of data while traveling here?

Yes. I haven't tried "hundreds of gigs" but I've used Maps, email etc. freely and haven't incurred any charges. Only gotcha is that calling a US phone still counts as an international call from the UK.

I think there's a time limit on how many weeks you can use it for in one run, so there's no point trying the old "Hi dude... er, sorry, hello old chaps at Three I am and genuine lime... sorry... British person (I say, what ho, God Bless the Queen, poh-tay-to, al-you-min-y-um and all that) and can I get... er... I want to pur-chase one of your fine SIMS for use here at my home in Londonengland..." routine.

I'm paying £20/month for 200 minutes and unlimited data.... I think its a bit more now for new customers (I got grandfathered).

Comment Re:Overpriced (Score 2) 93

Super overpriced. I got 30 days of unlimited talk/text and 10 gb of data for less than 20 GBP from ASDA mobile when I was in the UK.

The only drawback I saw was that I didn't get LTE speeds, "only" 4G. I wasn't sure if that was a radio limitation of my US-bought iPhone 6 plus or a limitation of the plan. It also didn't allow for tethering.

The practical drawbacks of that were nil for me, speeds were just fine for maps, email, web and every other smartphone thing I wanted to do and the hotel had free and quite good wifi.

And using a local SIM is hardly novel, either, you about trip over people trying to sell SIM cards in the arrival area of the airport.

Comment Re:What about travellers _to_ the USA? (Score 1) 93

This traveller gets "free" roaming and data in the US as part of his regular UK contract. (Three with "feel at home" - £20-£30 month depending on how many minutes you want). The only snag is that although voice calls to UK numbers come out of the regular contract allowance, calling another US phone still counts as an international call - still, for phoning home, mail & maps its great.

I'm sure it won't last...

Comment Re:So where are the criminal convictions? (Score 1) 111

Maybe explain it to me like I'm 5 how RICO doesn't cover an organized conspiracy to facilitate money laundering.

If these guys were named Juarez or Gambino they'd have so many bugs and wiretaps on them the fucking ISS could detect a warp in the Earth's magnetic field.

But because they're corporate executives they get to pay a fine and nobody goes to jail.

Comment Re:Which executive knew about which fraudulent tra (Score 1) 111

Isn't that the fucking FBI's job? To investigate all that shit, with their high-powered forensics and iPhone cracking, etc?

I mean, I can accept that nobody gets charged (in the same manner that a battered woman takes the next beating, because she's used to it), but at the same time the FTC announces a half-billion dollar fine for money laundering and we don't even HEAR about the ongoing FBI investigation into criminal culpability?

And spare me the "who committed what specific act" -- isn't the point of being an officer of a corporation accepting general liability for misbehavior?

Comment Re:So where are the criminal convictions? (Score 4, Interesting) 111

It's a large fine, but my question is why weren't the senior executives charged under the RICO laws and given the 20 year jail sentences and $100k per incident personal fines?

Why is it that if you're running under a corporate charter that you're excluded from being defined as running an ongoing criminal enterprise?

Comment Re:BASIC (Score 3, Interesting) 76

That's a bit harsh, isn't it?

For 1987 HyperCard seemed like a pretty easy way for someone with casual knowledge to produce what amounted to something close to a GUI application without climbing the super steep learning curve involved in writing a native Mac application. I think Inside Macintosh was up to about 5 volumes by then and event-based programming was a bit of mind fuck for people who had come out of general programming creating menu-driven designs, not to mention the headaches of generating GUI interfaces.

I seem to remember running an NNTP reader on the Mac ~1999 that used Hypercard.

Comment Re:Gouge the middle class to make them poor (Score 1) 285

I think you undersell how people lived in the 1950s.

I live in a house built in 1954 and it was originally about 1800 finished square feet with 3 bedrooms. Switching counter tops to Formica was probably an upgrade over previous choices which probably had been wood or linoleum. I don't think automatic dishwashers were that widespread until the 1960s or later.

But I think they would have had a washing machine, possibly a dryer, almost certainly a TV and a couple of radios.

I think in many ways the lifestyle of a 1955 family probably felt extremely futuristic to them -- for a lot of them, I bet they had first hand experience with houses without central heating, wood cooking stoves, using an outhouse, no automatic hot water heater.

The other high tech stuff nobody had, either, so they weren't exactly missing it.

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 93

I wonder if they should work with pharma and come up with some new and improved hypnotics for a Mars journey. It might makes sense to have long-haul astronauts "zoned out" for several hours per day. They could keep a patch or some kind of autoinjector connected with a drug to counter-act it in case of emergency.

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