* Posts by John H Woods

1596 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

Creationist: The Flintstones was an accurate portrayal of Dino-human coexistence

John H Woods
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Re: so...

"Mr Ham has asserted that scientists cannot claim to have proof of their theories if they weren’t there at the time to observe those theories in action."

Also, all court verdicts are invalid.

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NEVER MIND the B*LLOCKS Osbo peddles, deficits don't really matter

John H Woods
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Re: Impulsive voting

"Pointing out to these people that the coalition had actually increased the national debt more in their term of office than the previous three administrations" -- John H Woods [sources: Govt figures reported by the Office for National Statistics, supported from comment I have read in the FT, The Spectator (both mentioned in my comment) and The Economist].

"This is a pretty dishonest argument though, in that the trajectory of national debt was set during the administration of the previous government" -- I ain't Spartacus [sources: ?]

You haven't even quoted enough evidence to support a disagreement with me, let alone call me dishonest. This is exactly the type of dismissive disengaged, blaming-the-others, political argument that I am railing against "Pah, these people are obviously stupid and/or decietful ... this is how it is ... it's quite obvious that this was down to the previous administration ..."

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John H Woods
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Re: Impulsive voting

@DocJames,

That is the meaning I intended --- no so much a mix of right and left leading to a "centrist" position, as John Sager suggested, but a scenario where one does not really define one's views by picking part of this 'left-right spectrum'. For instance, I'm a pretty committed environmentalist but despite (actually I would say because of) that, I am extremely pro-nuclear. I'm probably left-of-centre regarding healthcare availibility and educational opportunities, but in other respects I could be considered a right-wing small-state libertarian. I'm also an ardent supporter of British armed forces and believe the UK should project its military power overseas whenever it is justified (not too many of my Guardian reading friends would agree, I suspect).

In the article, Tim is separating the big-state/small-state argument from the austerity/stimulus argument, and this is an approach I find extremely encouraging: having a situation where you can evaluate evidence and engage in constructive and considered debate without the "All of those people just want to destroy our country" vs "All of those people just want to kill the poor" shouting which just generates a lot more heat than light.

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John H Woods
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Impulsive voting

Voting seems to me to largely a matter of feeling rather than thinking. I came across numerous people before the UK general election who supported a continued Coalition or a Conservative government on the basis that "there's no doubt that we are [as a country] a lot better off now" Most of them felt that this statement was, in effect, its own evidence.

Those few who felt any need for actual evidence would talk about "The National Debt", and how Labour governments borrowed recklessly whilst the Coalition had been more prudent and circumspect. Pointing out to these people that the coalition had actually increased the national debt more in their term of office than the previous three administrations combined was met with general disbelief, whether I quoted official statistics or those well known left-biased media the Financial Times and the Spectator.

I made it clear when discussing with these people that I didn't think the level of national debt, either in absolute terms or as %GDP, was the sole (or even a particularly important) indicator of the health of an economy, and that other arguments could be made in support of an argument that the Coalition had been more economically prudent. Very few people took me up on that, most preferred to stick to their guns by simply disbelieving my "claim" that the national debt had increased.

And this is the essential problem, not just with voters, but the people they vote in. Tribal allegiances appear to be more important than actually thinking about things, examining evidence and coming to conclusions. I would actually have preferred a totally hung parliament, so that things had to be achieved by people actually discussing things rather than the shameful school-playground-level tit-for-tat shouting show that seems to pass for sensible debate in the UK Parliament.

In this context, of course, it is easy to see why both parties prefer to conflate the two points that Tim has distinguished in this article. Labour won't come right out and say that they prefer a big state; that it would be better for the country and here are the reasons. Hell, they didn't even seem comfortable proposing anything other than a slightly milder austerity. (I bet most voters felt, bloody hell, if we have to have austerity, we might as well have the guys we can rely upon to give it to us!) The Conservatives, similarly, prefer not to say they advocate a small state, but to present it as the only reasonable choice for a functioning economy and pretty much to imply that anyone who disagrees with them is irresponsible and/or stupid.

The voters, therefore, catch on to simplistic arguments (which they mostly do not even understand) that show them that the political party with which they disagree must be composed of stupid, if not downright evil, people, rather than people who hold different views with whom it might be possible to come to some mutual agreements on at least some subjects. So we swing constantly between two suboptimal compositions of parliament with apparently no way out of this cycle.

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

John H Woods
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Set your own questions ...

My erstwhile boss had something like:

Q: "I hope you don't think you're going out dressed like that, young lady!"

A: "I'll go out dressed how I like, I hate you and you aren't my real dad anyway!"

Ironically when these Q&A pairs get funny enough, you usually can't resist telling someone else ...

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Robocalling Americans? That'll cost you $1.7 MEEELLION

John H Woods
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Method already invented ...

it's called the audio captcha, e.g.

"Hello, please answer the following questions by speaking the answer or pressing the keys on your telephones. What is 2 plus 5?"

"7"

"What is 3 times 2?"

"6"

"Putting you through now ... *ring* *ring*"

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Hi! You've reached TeslaCrypt ransomware customer support. How may we fleece you?

John H Woods
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Re: How

Some people are really operating on the very edge - or beyond - their comfort zone when using a computer. I dealt with a cryptomalware case recently where a lady had phoned BT to complain about her broadband. Two days later 'BT' phoned her back and gave her 'lots of instructions' which she followed. "Wouldn't you?" she asked. "No", I said: "I wouldn't make modifications to my washing machine because people claiming to be Severn Trent Water had phoned me up"

The lady in question is not an idiot, far from it. But you have to be online these days, it's almost impossible not to be. And computers used to be so crap that often you did get help (from software or hardware vendors) over the telephone, so people are still in that oh-my-god-i-can't-do-it mode and are still prepared to trust a friendly and confident voice on the phone belonging to anyone who claims to be from any remotely technological company.

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Are we looking at the first domain name meme? Neigh

John H Woods
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Re: I'm off to register

I'm not visiting your bloody website!

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Amazon cloud to BEND TIME, exist in own time zone for 24 hours

John H Woods
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Re: Why have you used ...

>>> oops I meant 21 Oct 15 (this year) thank you for your tolerance

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John H Woods
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Why have you used ...

... a hoax BttF date, rather than the real one (Oct 15 this year?)

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Nissan CEO: Get ready, our auto-wagons will be ready by 2020

John H Woods
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Motorbike safety...

"Motorbikes are faster, cheaper, and more efficient than most cars. They also get through traffic a lot better. The problems come principally from safety concerns, wet weather, and load capacity." -- LucreLout.

Perhaps there will be fewer safety problems when most of the cars are bots?

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Microsoft: Free Windows 10 for THIEVES and PIRATES? They can GET STUFFED

John H Woods
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Re: 7 to 8 ...

"No, hopefully your kids have learned their lesson and will stay clear of Windows."

:-) Dual boot; Windows used only for Windows-only games. Hopefully won't be necessary for too much longer ...

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John H Woods
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7 to 8 ...

My kids had OEM W7, they bought the upgrade-only media for W8, and updated without a problem. Sometime later, the disk failed. I chanced my arm and tried to reinstall W8 on the replacement HDD using the media, even though it said it could only be used for upgrades. The install proceeded and initially appeared successful, but resulted in a non-activated (and non-activatable) copy of Windows 8 with a message explaining this was because I had used an upgrade, not a full licence. However, it turned out this copy of Windows could be "upgraded" (to itself!) with the same W8 upgrade media, and then it became active!

I wonder if they might make the same mistake with the upgrade to W10?

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Don't look now: Fujitsu ships new mobe with EYEBALL-scanning security

John H Woods
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There must be a better way ...

... how about a small battery powered Bluetooth device (belt buckle? pocketable widget?). Or an RFID-bearing piercing of some kind?

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Mobe network Three is the magic number for FreedomPop

John H Woods
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"100mb / month? Waste of time. What are the charges when you go over this?" -- x 7

Yes, maybe useful for geotrackers or low data devices, but phones? My mobile data usage is 10-30GB/mo, which Three provide, bless 'em, for £15. They even throw in 300 mins of calls and 3000 texts.

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Scot Nationalists' march on Westminster may be GOOD for UK IT

John H Woods
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Question

Since when did 'sceptical about the desirability of Orwellian dragnet surveillance' become 'libertarian'?

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Swedish Supreme Court keeps AssangeTM in Little Ecuador

John H Woods
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Re: Rough guess

Can't see any problem with a Rough order of Magnitude estimate of a plod being £100k pa. But "cost to the taxpayer" stuff is not as simple as adding this up.

Firstly, a figure of 'millions' is negligible compared to the tax pot, so reporting it in absolute terms can mislead those who are not aware of the annual tax take. Secondly, at least half of the salary of the plod ends up back in the tax system (and the purchase equipment with which he is supplied benefits the businesses who supply that equipment, and their employees, and the taxman benefits from both of these --- same is true for the coffee and doughnuts he buys when off duty etc.). Thirdly, the police keeping an eye on Assange are presumably not exclusively dedicated to that: if a high priority incident occurs nearby, some of them will surely be redeployed appropriately.

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Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

John H Woods
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Re: "shy tory"

"The media were pretty anti-Tory this time around" --- AC.

They most certainly were not. Most of the mainstream press came right out and said who they were supporting: e.g. read http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/election-2015-these-are-parties-britains-newspapers-are-endorsing-1499763

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Uber and car makers jockey for Nokia's 'HERE' maps – report

John H Woods
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Re: commodity...

"...if your car insides could be switched out by a robot..." -- phil dude

That's an intriguing idea: taking it further, we could all just have caravans with all the personal stuff we want in them, and when we need to go somewhere an autonomous tow-car turns up and takes us there. Autonomous vehicles, nobody owning their own motive power, and caravans everywhere! The entire infrastructure could be powered by harnessing the ensuing rage of Jeremy Clarkson.

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Traumatised Reg SPB team barely survives movie unwatchablathon

John H Woods
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I see your unwatchablathon ...

... and raise you a UK election night coverage

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Spooks BUSTED: 27,000 profiles reveal new intel ops, home addresses

John H Woods
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Re: Dropbear MASTERSHAKE?

"... including long extant languages!" -- Matt Bryant

I know quite a few long extant languages and they're still quite useful, certainly much more so than long extinct languages.

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Tesla's battery put in the shade by current and cheaper kit

John H Woods
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Re: 2kW Clothes Iron?

"Such is the sorry state of science & mathematics in journalism these days that the above fool sentence was published. At least in the USA ..."

We don't all live in the USA. There are several devices in my house in the 2-3kW range that plug into the conventional circuit. (Furthermore our socket circuits are usually ring circuits rated at 30A).

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Rip up your AMD obits: Gaming, VR, embedded chips to lift biz out of the red by 2016, allegedly

John H Woods
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Re: AMD APUs with HSA look ground breaking

I agree. Price performance is where the AMDs still hold their own against Intel. My kids have a cheapo gaming rig that is able to deliver perfectly acceptable HD frame rates on modern games on most settings, using an overclocked (and boy can they overclock) A10. Even before we added a proper graphics card (need a way to get started without killing the 300 quid budget) we were getting fairly respectable performance just using the A10s own GPU. With a moderately good AMD card added, performance is pretty good, and that and an SSD still didn't take the total cost over 500.

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New Tizen phone leaked: Remember it's not all just Android and iOS

John H Woods
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Re: get the units right

"the battery is a 2.0 Ah not 2000 mAh" -- AC

You could call this battery a 7.200E+03 Coulomb (i.e. Amp second) battery, but as most people are interested in how long the battery lasts and what the phone's power consumption is, it is more appropriate, in this CONTEXT, to use the derived unit of Current x Time rather than Charge. Similarly, the scale, in this CONTEXT, suggests that we use mA rather than A (given the sorts of power consumptions that phones have) and h rather than s (given the sorts of durations that phone batteries last).

* Also, as an aside, 2.0Ah is not quite the same as 2000mAh: the former suggests (a hundred times) less precision (i.e 1950mAh to 2050mAh rather than 1999.5mAh to 2000.5mAh) although again an understanding of the CONTEXT would suggest to most people that the range of variability is unlikely to be as small as 1mAh

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Tesla Powerwall: not much cheaper and also a bit wimpier than existing batteries

John H Woods
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"Aren't these things driven by cookies set by, er, sites visited previously?" -- Zog_but_not_the_first

I thought so. I certainly find 10 minutes looking at lingerie on Amazon brightens up my browsing for up to a week afterwards.

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Mozilla to whack HTTP sites with feature-ban stick

John H Woods
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Re: why, why, why... what is the point?

You'd better read (a) the news and (b) some history books.

If you think your news browsing, video watching, Register-posting habits -- or even your musical tastes -- do not let The Powers That Be characterise you pretty fully, you need to think again. The Powers That Be, here in "The West", of course, are reasonably benign (to what degree is a matter of discussion) at the moment; but there is absolutely no reason to assume they will stay that way, wherever you place them on the malignity spectrum at the moment.

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London Coffee Festival: Caffeine, tech and martinis on show in Shoreditch

John H Woods
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Re: Getting a good cup of coffee?

Phil Dude, I believe you are spot on. Charbucks over-roast their coffee on purpose to give it a distinctive strong taste that is mistaken for quality by people who don't know better.

I love Italian coffee --- Illy is fantastic when it is on special offer, Lavazza will do when it isn't. And I think Lavazza's Modo Mio pod machines are pretty good. But, although it's pretty hard to source in the UK, I also love Portuguese blends like Nicola.

Bialetti's are good, but I've never really enjoyed cafetiere coffee, as I find it hard to get a grind that is uniformly coarse enough to avoid the muddy bottom you get from the material too fine to be filtered by the mesh. But then I discovered the Aeropress ... great coffee from a cheap, robust, easily cleaned device with minimal environmental impact (and a bonus miniature arm workout if you put in enough grounds) -- what's not to like?

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Who thinks Microsoft Edge SUCKS? Erm, Microsoft

John H Woods
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Re: Hatters Will Hate!

Who cares what hatters think? They're all mad ... I'm told it's the mercury ...

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Boeing 787 software bug can shut down planes' generators IN FLIGHT

John H Woods
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Re: RAT trap

"Even the best trained pilots are going to break into a sweat when much of the power goes off and the last ditch RAT deploys. " -- AC

True; the AF447 pilots flew their perfectly airworthy plane into the ocean just because their pitot tubes froze, and they lost an instrument (airspeed) that they could easily have managed without, if they hadn't made such a big and fatal deal about it.

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Tesla reveals Powerwall battery packs for homes, Powerpacks for cities

John H Woods
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Re: "the horrors of an electric stove"

"its an absolute doddle to keep clean" --

Yes, and if you want you can even heat your pan through a layer or two of kitchen towels! I have no gas and always complained until I got my first induction hob. When I did, I was only hoping for it to be less of a disappointment than a conventional hob, but within a few hours I realised it was far superior to gas.

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SHA-1 crypto hash retirement fraught with problems

John H Woods
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@Boltar, Antonymous Coward

I was over-simplifying; however my comment was for the benefit of those who might be misled by the statement that "...hashing (one-way) function) ... from which it is impossible to recover the original information" and who might not realise, given the context, that that is true of all hashes, and not just of secure ones, and that the defining feature of secure hashes was actually collision resistance.

My statement that it is only really "secure" hashes where you can "recover" the input should be taken in that context, just an ironic fun point. Of course I understand that, in the absence of size restrictions, there must be an infinity of inputs that have any given SHA256 value. But the chances of the original input having the hash I quoted having been something other than 'password' are very small indeed. So although you cannot really "recover" the information from the digest, you have a lot better chance of guessing the input than you do for, say, a given CRC function. (Although obviously such guessing is severely limited --- the input would have to be present in a "rainbow" table of inputs for which you have already precomputed the hash).

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John H Woods
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"SHA-1 is a hashing (one-way) function) that converts information into a shortened "message digest", from which it is impossible to recover the original information."

This might suggest that inability to recover the original information is what makes a given hash function secure: it isn't. In fact, secure hash functions are actually the ones from which you might* be able to recover the original information!

A hash function is secure if it is (very) hard to create any different inputs with the same hash --- most particularly that it is very hard to manipulate the input in any manner whilst preserving the hash value.

* by using rainbow tables. e.g. if you say 5e88 4898 da28 0471 51d0 e56f 8dc6 2927 7360 3d0d 6aab bdd6 2a11 ef72 1d15 42d8, I know the original message is "password", but that doesn't mean that SHA256 is any less secure.

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Facebook serves up shaved, pierced, tattooed 'butterfly' as CAPTCHA

John H Woods
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Never mind Not Safe For Work ...

... that's Not Safe For Breakfast! ew.

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SpaceX in MONEY RING shot, no spare juice for tail backdown this time

John H Woods
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Spooky smartphones

Sometime in the last decade, enough idiots (including myself) had asked vague questions on the Internet and had them answered by kind knowledgeable people that internet search itself has become spookily good at vague queries. Having access to this knowledge in a dark country lane in the middle of the night is pretty weird when you stop to think about it.

The other night, walking the dogs, an image popped into my head, frustratingly without the words that should go with it (I'm getting old). My old mastermind of a dad being dead these past twenty years, I risked it: "OK Google. What's the name of the famous American painting of the old couple with the bloke holding the pitch fork?" Not only did the phone get the speech word perfect, but there was the answer: "American Gothic" by Grant Wood. When did it get that good?

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WHY can't Silicon Valley create breakable non-breakable encryption, cry US politicians

John H Woods
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The only thing that's harder than breakable unbreakable crypto ...

... honesty and intelligence in the political classes.

What has the OK Bomb got to do with it? I mean really? Why wasn't the guy jeered openly when he mentioned it? If we carry on being polite to these people, we're going to be in trouble.

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David Cameron 'guarantees' action on mobe not-spots. Honest

John H Woods
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Re: Maps

" These clueless morons have never heard of the inverse-square law and don't realise that holding their mobes to their lobes is going to irradiate them many thousand times more strongly than the antenna some tens of metres away through a few walls....." --- AlbertH

It's even worse than that ... by insisting there are no local masts, they cause phones to operate at much higher power levels: if you want to protect your kids you should insist there are masts on the school roof.

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'Use 1 capital' password prompts make them too predictable – study

John H Woods
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The metric ...

... there's only one measure of password quality, and that is approximate - it is how long a decent password cracker can run on it without success. Anything else, as shown here is actually scoring passwords on 'how well they fit our rules on passwords'. And when those are bad rules ...

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Avengers: Age of Ultron – blisteringly big banter, brawls and brio

John H Woods
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"The Blacklist is truly dire television, even by TV standards"

No! It's great!

Does that count as a counter argument? If not, your position is hardly better supported: saying you don't like it because the acting, direction and writing is bad is pretty much the equivalent of the announcement that the train is late because it has been delayed. Dismissing something so popular and widely acclaimed (by both critics and the public) as if its lack of quality is immediately apparent to anyone with half a brain is the equivalent of publicly stating that you are smarter than everybody else. It might be true, but it's yet to be proven.

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The huge flaw in Moore’s Law? It's NOT a law after all

John H Woods
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Re: Spelling Police

"1990s => 1990's"

I think this is a mistake by people confused by '90s which is, of course, acceptable.

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John H Woods
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Re: Inspiring Entrepreneurs

"...by adding a bit of a highly inflammable and volatile liquid with the chemical formula C6H6O" -- Roger Kynaston

Phenol? You first!

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Stuff your RFID card, just let me through the damn door!

John H Woods
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Having been asked why I was laughing ...

... I have just found myself reading the entire article to my two teenage sons who are on the verge of wetting themselves with laughter -- great work!

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Fukushima nuke plant owner told to upgrade from Windows XP

John H Woods
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Re: I'm suggesting it.

"Even if you are pessimistic about long term effects, you cannot round up any realistic guess at the nuclear impact to a level where it even counts as a significant part of the tragedy." -- me

"That's a very simplistic viewpoint, basically that tragedy equals death and nothing else." -- 1980s_coder

I disagree. What it actually says is that NX << MY where

N is the number of people living in (unnecessary) fear, and I accept your point that it may be large

X is the tragedy of a person living in fear in some arbitrary unit

(What is the El Reg unit of tragedy? Perhaps a 'Verdi')

M is the number of people who actually died (~15,000 < M < ~20,000)

Y is the tragedy of a person dying

I'm not discounting the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of people living in fear, sucks for them, even if they are worried about basically nothing. But I am still saying it's insignificant compared to the tragedy of thousands of people dying.

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John H Woods
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"I get one lousy capital letter wrong and ... " -- Simon Sharwood

file not found?

tag not recognized?

function not defined?

password not correct?

Probably not the right forum to expect any sympathy with case errors :-)

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John H Woods
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Re: I'm suggesting it.

"... it's ok not to build a wall higher than 10m (or whatever it was), to protect the emergency backup generators for the nuclear core coolant system." --- MIke 125

It's off topic, but I need to rant (again) ...

This annoys me a bit, the idea that nukes can only be considered safe in they are protected from everything. The Tohoku earthquake was a 9.0 magnitude affair epicentered less than 100km offshore, and had an energy of not far off 10 Teratons of TNT --- five hundred million Hiroshimas. Relatively ancient nuclear plant was hit by a massive earthquake and a huge tsunami.

The Tohoku earthquake caused at least 15,000 deaths, probably 20,000. The Fukushima nuclear "disaster" caused, erm, pretty much none. Even if you are pessimistic about long term effects, you cannot round up any realistic guess at the nuclear impact to a level where it even counts as a significant part of the tragedy.

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Don't worry, Apple hypegasms haven't gone in the WRISTJOB ERA

John H Woods
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Re: collect it?

UK mail order rights (e.g. returning non-faulty goods because you don't like them) cease to apply when you click and collect. If they mail it to your house, you have vastly more rights than if you take it from a shop, regardless of whether the payment was made online.

So my guess is they're avoiding the DSRs (Distance Selling Regulations) rather than the Posties.

*IANALBIPOOTI

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Hi, Fi: Google JOWL-SLAPS mobile bigguns with $20/mo wireless service

John H Woods
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Wow!

The Americans sure pay for their data: I use anything from 10 to 30GB per month for £15 in the UK; Hell, I even get some calls and texts thrown in! $10/GB? And it's competitive? Please tell me it's a misprint!

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Thank heavens for the silicon chip: A BRIEF history of data

John H Woods
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Re: True dat

I think Turing might have beaten you to that realisation by about eight decades :-)

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