Now is 'the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to Kremlin' - SpaceX boss
Plus: 'Government’s website... is upper-case: GOV.UK'
Quotw This was the week when Tim Cook tried to tantalise his legions of fanbois once more with the promise of... er... a new device.
Hmmm. Ignoring the fact that Apple's well-worn iPhone and iPad products were once new products introduced to the market... hurrah! He said:
I feel great about what we’ve got coming. Really great and it’s closer than it’s ever been.
Brilliant Tim! So what exactly can we look forward to? Well, he's not saying. All he'll say is that Apple workers are busily perfecting the iWhatever-it-is as he speaks:
You want to take the time to get it right. Our objective has never been to be first. It’s to be the best. To do things really well, it takes time. You can see a lot of products that have been brought to market where the thinking isn’t really deep and, as a consequence, these things don’t do very well. We don’t do very many things so we spend a lot of time on every detail and that part of Apple isn’t changing. It’s the way we’ve operated for years and it’s the way we still operate.
In news where people actually did stuff, tech billionaire Elon Musk has taken on the US government over its contract for black ops spy satellites. Musk and his firm SpaceX are pissed that the US Air Force has signed up the Lockheed Martin/Boeing joint venture United Launch Alliance again for its secret military launches, especially since they're using Russian engine bits. Russia is subject to sanctions at the moment because of its actions in Ukraine, so Musk argued that the US shouldn't be using Russian anything at the moment:
In light of international events, this seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin. Yet, this is what the Air Force’s arrangement with ULA does, despite the fact that there are domestic alternatives available that do not rely on components from countries that pose a national security risk.
But quite apart from all that, Musk said there's no competition in the contract and, now that there are private rocket options, there should be:
This exclusive deal unnecessarily costs US taxpayers billions of dollars and defers meaningful free competition for years to come. We are simply asking that SpaceX and any other qualified domestic launch providers be allowed to compete in the EELV program for any and all missions that they could launch.
Musk filed a complaint in court and so far, the courts agree with him. Judge Susan Braden has handed out a preliminary injunction stopping ULA from buying rocket equipment from Russia, saying the firm would be violating sanctions law if it keeps on sourcing its materials from there. SpaceX was quite chuffed, with its spokeswoman telling The Reg:
The US Court of Federal Claims took a prudent step toward understanding whether United Launch Alliance's current sole-source contract violates US sanctions by sending taxpayer money to Russia for the RD-180 engine.
That question – as well as others relating to the risks posed by dependence on Russian-made engines and the need to open competition for the Air Force space launch program – are timely and appropriate.
And the ULA, not so much:
ULA is deeply concerned with this ruling and we will work closely with the Department of Justice to resolve the injunction expeditiously. In the meantime, ULA will continue to demonstrate our commitment to our National Security on the launch pad by assuring the safe delivery of the missions we are honored to support.
SpaceX's attempt to disrupt a national security launch contract so long after the award ignores the potential implications to our National Security and our nation's ability to put Americans on board the International Space Station... This opportunistic action by SpaceX appears to be an attempt to circumvent the requirements imposed on those who seek to meet the challenging launch needs of the nation and to avoid having to follow the rules, regulations and standards expected of a company entrusted to support our nation's most sensitive missions.
In Googly news, multiple sources have said that the firm is working on a brand new line-up of shiny Silver devices, a new Android brand. Just as with Nexus, Google will design and subsidise the handsets and then pack 'em with the latest Android updates, leaving other manufacturers to desperately fling their branding all over the OS before getting it out. Apparently, those manufacturers aren't too happy about it. One source told The Register:
Google really is turning into the pigs in Animal Farm. There's more and more resemblance to Microsoft in the way it controls the PC experience every day. Best of luck [in the premium space], Google have won.
The company has also spent this week denying allegations from a so-called "former employee" on Pastebin that staffers were supposedly forced to steal tons of money from thousands of publishers on AdSense. Google has said that not only are the allegations untrue, but the person probably never even worked at the firm. It sputtered:
This description of our AdSense policy enforcement process is a complete fiction.
The allegations were that Google had told its staff in 2009 that it would begin axing accounts of online publishers who were making too much cash out of displaying Google ads on their sites:
We were told to begin banning accounts that were close to their payout period (which is why account bans never occur immediately after a payout). The purpose was to get that money owed to publishers back to Google AdSense, while having already served up the ads to the public. This way the advertiser’s [sic] couldn’t claim we did not do our part in delivering their ads and ask for money back. So in a sense, we had thousands upon thousands of publishers deliver ads we knew they were never going to get paid for.
Google reaped both sides of the coin, got money from the advertisers, used the publishers, and didn’t have to pay them a single penny.
They kept saying it was needed for the company, and that most of these publishers were ripping Google off anyways, and that their gravy train needed to end. Many employees were not happy about this. A few resigned over it. I did not. I stayed because I had a family to support, and secondly I wanted to see how far they would go.
But Google called the whole thing a load of old tosh:
This description of our AdSense policy enforcement process is a complete fiction. The color-coding and ‘extreme quality control’ programs the author describes don’t exist. Our teams and automated systems work around the clock to stop bad actors and protect our publishers, advertisers and users.
All publishers that sign up for AdSense agree to the Terms and Conditions of the service and a set of policies designed to ensure the quality of the network for users, advertisers and other publishers.
When we discover violations of these policies, we take quick action, which in some cases includes disabling the publisher's account and refunding affected advertisers.
The company's head of tackling web spam Matt Cutts said on Twitter that it didn't even sound like an employee:
And finally, in what The Reg hopes is a parody blog post (but sadly knows probably isn't), the UK government has told the world why GOV.UK is always spelled in government missives in capital letters. You see, British public, that URL can never be lower-case, never, because citizens need to know that it is the name of the government's website:
Why do we write GOV.UK in capitals? And why is the URL written lower-case? You may well have heard the reasons, but we’ve never actually written them down. Let’s fix that now.
When we were thinking about names for the government website we came up with a number of ideas, but soon realised it already had an identity people knew – that little bit of the end of the URL, gov.uk.
To formalise the name we simply put it in capitals, GOV.UK. We did that because we want it to be absolutely clear that this is the name and identity of the government website. So, when using the name of the government’s website, we use upper-case: GOV.UK.
But what, oh citizen... what if there's a mix-up between the fact that it's a URL and also the fact that it is the very identity of the government? Never fear! There's an answer for that too:
But, when we want to tell people the URL, we want it to look like a URL, so we put it in lower-case, with the three w’s: www.gov.uk.
So that’s it in writing. When writing the name, GOV.UK, please use capitals. When writing the URL, www.gov.uk, please use lower case. Thanks.
No, thank you, the government. Thanks for taking the time to clear that up. And please tell us it's a parody, inspired by our very own Kelly Fiveash's sarcastic comment in this article, where she coined the catchphrase you're using - capped-up-cos-we-mean-business GOV.UK. ®