Readers leap to eBay's defence

What was the point of Live8, anyway?

Letters Another week, another eBay/Live8 complaint. This time the auction site is trying to pull illegal recordings of the Live8 gig from its site. The BPI says that "sadly" it isn't surprised that the recordings are out there. You aren't surprised either, but you are much less bothered:

I don't see what the big deal is considering the tickets to the event were given out FREE to begin with.

And the proceeds will probably go towards funding genocidical dictators anyway


Perhaps I'm dense, but for the life of me I can't understand how the market in used Live 8 tickets or mementos hurts any African. Furthermore, I can't understand how Live 8 is going to help any African, if it's not actually doing any fundraising (apparently the case if the tickets are free).

Sure, there's "raising awareness", but the people are already pretty aware of G8 (there have been protests at G8 and WTO summits for the past several years without the involvement of a single celebrity) and a handful of concerts isn't going to make much difference. If one wants to influence the political leaders at the G8 conference, then a coordinated letter-writing campaign would seem to be more effective.

On the other hand, I can easily understand how, if one is a spoiled narcissistic celebrity who has deluded oneself into thinking that one is changing the world by giving a single charity performance, then one might be offended at the secondary sale of tickets or mementos. It has cheapens the noble gesture, you see.

Back to letter-writing campaigns: perhaps I'm biased but it sounds like a pretty good idea. It could be like Amnesty International, except it would deal with global economic issues and would target G8 or WTO representatives prior to summits. Pity Geldoff didn't think of it; using Live 8 to kick something like that off might have actually produced results.


Some of your thoughts on the No2ID pledge to refuse to carry an ID card:

While I appreciate and fully support No2ID's cause, I think the idea of a legal defence fund is flawed for one simple reason: Either it's going to be legal not to have an ID card or it isn't. If it's legal, then a defence fund is pointless, because the government will just make it a requirement for foreign travel, insuring your vehicle etc, so everyone will need one for day to day life, not because the law says so.

If it's illegal not to have one, then the fact that you don't have one means all the defence in the world isn't going to help, because you've still broken the law, and "I don't have one because it's just not fair" or "I don't agree with the law" isn't going to be a whole lot of use to you.


Well, a legal challenge to the card could conclusively establish in law whether or not it is legal for the government to make laws saying that you have to have one. If you follow...

Of course, if you're worried about the UK Government moving towards being a police state, handing the Government a list of people who oppose them might not be seen as the smartest move...


Your site is turning into an anti ID-card lobbying site. Tedious. I am visiting less and less often as I am not interested in being force fed propaganda.


As you do have to click on the headlines to read particular stories, you only have to read the ones you chose to. We're not sure how we are force feeding you, but if you send a stamped addressed envelope to us, we'll send you a packet of Rennie to help with the indigestion.

Light is shed on the fate of the BBC's culled cult website:

It seems that to pay for the CGI Daleks we must forgo their website! Chris

---------- Forwarded message ---------- From: <> Date: Jul 4, 2005 5:34 PM Subject: Reply req'd [T2005070100KGS060] To:

Thank you for your e-mail.

We recognise that the Cult website has attracted a large following. However, efficiency savings are needed to pay for new projects which will ensure that the BBC continues to offer distinctive and innovative services, so it is necessary to close this site.

As Ashley Highfield, Director of New Media, explained in December " meet the 10% target set out by the BBC Governors, we are announcing today a further 7.5% reduction to be achieved through lowering investment in areas where we feel this will not cause a reduction in public value...These changes build on the first steps we took in July to close those websites which we felt did not offer sufficient distinctive public value for the investment required. The savings we made in July represented 2.5% of our web output."

Furthermore, the BBC outlined in November its commitment to offer more distinctive content. We felt that many areas covered by the Cult site were already being replicated on other areas of the web. This meant there was very little distinction between the BBC and the commercial sector.

The exception to this is Dr Who, the largest of our Cult sites, which has now evolved into its own website, as an extension of the hugely successful BBC ONE TV series. We hope users will continue to visit and enjoy this site.


Sophie Walpole - Head of iD&E And Chris Chalton - Communications Manager, MC&A

Well, now we know.

Chess playing supercomputer, Hydra, fairly whooped its human opponent in a six match series, taking five of the six games conclusively. Humanity's champion, Michael Adams managed to draw one game, so all was not lost:

Thanks for your mention of the chess match between Micky Adams and Hydra. (A more extensive report, naturally enough, can be found at Adams is not quite the world's strongest player, although he is definitely among the top ten. Kasparov has retired, so would probably be unwilling to take part in a computer match.

In my opinion, humanity's best "champion" would be the Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, who is very nearly as strong as Kasparov. Anand is well adapted to tackle a computer, as he has very quick sight of the board, can play very good chess at short time limits, and has a very pragmatic approach. (In other words he is less concerned with finding the theoretically "best" move or plan than in choosing a strategy that will beat a given opponent).

Playing a match against a strong computer program places a huge stress on a human player. You can get the same feeling by installing any good chess program on your own PC, and cranking it up to the playing level at which you cannot ever beat it. Then play a dozen games. You will find that your self-confidence gradually drains away, as you realise that nothing you can do will be good enough. As a result, you will end up playing much more weakly than you began. It's like a talented child playing a game against an adult who never makes any concessions - very discouraging indeed.


A pet peeve. The computer does not play chess. It computes moves. Here is the inverse: despite only computing a fraction of a percentage of the billions of permutations a computer can go through over the course of the game, the human can ward off the computer for a pretty long time. The human is this much more efficient at the game than the computer is. Of course: in the end the computer wins anyway. True, but the computer does not care either way and it has a huge advantage over the human player who does not have a database at hand with perfect recollection of hundreds of thousands of games and does not experience stress factors or fatigue like a human. The computer does a nifty calculating job but it is positively not playing chess.

"Kasparov was beaten by Deep Blue" *cough*bullshit*cough*. Have you seen the documentary on that? IBM has never come clean on what went on behind the curtains, they never produced the logs of the moves of game 2 and they managed to get into Kasparov's head, something which he does not get to do in reverse. Kasparov did not even come remotely close to his best game in that match. Whatever level the Briton has, he's not in Kasparov's class, I'm sorry if that offends you. Not many people on the planet can match his best game, even if they have a good day.

Computers and chess... it's pathetic. It's a marketing ploy to sell more chips. And for IBM that has worked out really well.

In a few year's time, quantum computers will be able to scale up to the point where a factor 250 problem becomes trivial and guess what: they won't be playing Go, they'll just be counting really fast. That's not what Go is for. It's not what chess is for.

Playing games is for humans [or all creatures with the intelligence for it]. Having computers do our playing for us must be the ultimate outsourcing job.

I don't feel threatened by computers. Not even when they reach our level of intelligence. When they eventually do, we have another game that will trump anything that beats us at Go: religion. Let's see them get a handle on that puppy.


Since we humans with all our alleged extra whizziness don't seem to have got "a handle on that puppy", it would not be shock to learn that a quantum computer could not compute it either...moving on...

The EU proposes a new directive that would force manufacturers to make their products more energy efficient. You argue there are some simple steps people can take on their own to reduce their carbon emissions, like turning off the light when you leave a room, for instance:

"..issues like power consumption during stand-by mode."

Stand-by be blowed! In most of the offices where I work (freelance), the computers are left on all the time, often day and night. Some of them power themselves down, of course, but by no means all (they just blank the video). However, on most days in the UK, this just reduces the demand on heating systems, so it may not be quite so catastrophic as suggested...

Wasn't it the DoE who left their lights on all night, anyway?


Interesting letter, this, in response to the news of a deaf developer winning an unfair dismissal case because he successfully argued that he could not understand his employment hearing:

Did you notice the name of the Communications manager: "Mr Baccolini"?

Even if he is a first or second generation descendant of a naturalised Italians he is likely to be very hard to lip-read because his pronunciation is formed differently after being exposed to a second language early in his childhood. If he a "real" Italian - forget it.

The reason is that a non-native speaker who has learned the language after his childhood uses his lip and face muscles differently even if he sounds like a perfect native speaker. It is something that has been known for a long time and actively used by the Germans during the second world war. There are documented occasions where the Abver has used leap reading deaf people to filter out fake from real German speakers.


And finally to the biggest pile of letters. Yes, the US vs. UK battle is always a popular one, especially when it comes to the origins of the internet/worldwide web/English language:

America owns the Internet, apparently (after all, it was invented by Al Gore, wasn't it?). Well, by that token, the British (or maybe the Swiss) own the Web. So, jingoistic Septic Tanks everywhere, "get orrff my web!"

Or maybe rather than engage in such silly nonsense it would be better to recognise that the modern Internet is the result of an international effort and, like the global phone system, belongs to us all. A nationalistic claim of rights of ownership over the Internet is unacceptable as the original item from El Reg said.


Lets just remind our American neighbours of one thing, they may have 'invented' the technology that underpins the net, but they didn't invent the one thing that turned the net into what it is today, the domain name system, no, a clever brit did that, if it was up to the Yanks we'd still be having to navigate using IP addresses.

This is a FACT Americans miss and we should remind me them at every opportunity.


I'm an American, and really the root server control isn't that big of an issue to me. However, the fact that I'm stuck in a country with people that contain a high concentration of stupidity does scare me.

The Internet was invented in the US, the US is not a person, nor a coroporation. Not to mention, this 'global spreading' etc... Is really due to the World Wide Web , which is credited to Tim Berners Lee, who is an Englishman.

The internet is not for a single entity to own. Will the US Government abuse this control ? .. We hope not, but whats to guarantee that? nothing. With talk of 'cleaning' online content, whose to say that the government does not maintain its control in order to realize a global censoring of the web? Once again, nobody.

I am a conservative, but not a Bush (neoconservative) supporter. Politically I say that we should turn the control over, only becuase its not a part of the governments business to keep control.

My only request to whoever would take them, is that they would also take all the ignorant fools who wrote the e-mails and put them on a rather large iceberg somewhere off the coast of Alaska or Norway.


I love the logic in the letters responding to that article.

The US invented the internet, so they can do with it what they like? They're just letting the rest of the world join in out of sheer generosity?

Well we invented the English language, and without it you wouldn't have been able to describe the internet to build it, so there! We just let you use English out of generosity, but actually we've now changed our minds, and you're not allowed to use it anymore.

All Americans should now speak in Esperanto, as no-one over here wants it. Good luck!


p.s. My dad is bigger than your dad, and he could beat your dad in a fight any day.

Good stuff. More on Friday. ®

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