* Posts by John H Woods

1655 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Uitsmijter

John H Woods
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Can I suggest ...

A nice quiche, b̶o̶u̶g̶h̶t̶ prepared beforehand and blasted in the microwave (or not) when required. I've always been told that "Real Men don't eat quiche" but since it's basically bacon & egg pie I find this somewhat confusing.

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Biologists gasp at lemur's improbably colossal bollocks

John H Woods
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" ... equivalent to grapefruit sized on human chaps"

Maybe it has just had a vasectomy?

"You may experience some discomfort ..." they told me. They didn't add "... if you're very, very lucky ... mwah hah ha ha"

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Silly Google's Photos app labelled BLACK PEOPLE as GORILLAS

John H Woods
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What neural networks think ...

Check out this Google Research Blog where they get some insight into what ANNs (artificial neural networks or "AI") have actually learned by feeding them random noise or images of clouds and (simplifying here) "asking them" to identify buildings or animals.

The identification is, without the G-word, one of dark skinned higher apes and, on a naive level, this is not really a failure: the gorillas, the chimpanzees and the bonobos are our closest living relatives. And by close, I mean really close, on a deep genetic level. The connotations of the word are terrible, but that is because of centuries of human racism, not because ANNs (or Google) are "racist". The reason white people aren't identified as such is because we are the mutants who lost our ability to produce large amounts of melanin, resulting in a very obvious visual difference: one which, to ANNs, can appear much more significant than it really is. In fact, it just means we can tolerate cooler climes somewhat better and intense sunlight a hell of a lot worse. They'll have pulled the ANN now, but I'll bet that a 'negative' of a group of white people would also have produced the same result.

Where other visual indicators are more significant, the ANN picks that. Note that, despite the subject not being white, the last picture in the tweet is correctly identified as being one of a graduation.

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'Please, choose to be a good citizen and DON’T ask Siri about 9/11'

John H Woods
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Re: Silly people

"The one true date format is YYYYMMDD and always will be" -- Crisp

+1. But it confuses the hell out of bureaucrats and is impossible on many forms where they have specified the order for you. Both UK and US formats should be abolished - they are both sufficiently prevalent that, in the absence of other information, they are ambiguous 132 days per year (>36% of the time).

However, has anyone tried the ISO 8601 date on Siri? It still ends "oh nine one one," after all.

<pedant>I would perhaps replace "always" with "for the next nearly 8000 years"</pedant>

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John H Woods
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Ahem ...

... don't want to be too Pecksniffian about it, but surely when one's car is ambushed and the driver held hostage that is a serious and frightening situation and probably, even if one is something of a celebrity, does not deserve to be compared to merely having been supplied with the wrong brand of bottled water?

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Who wants a classic ThinkPad with whizzy new hardware? Lenovo would just love to know

John H Woods
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Re: It is already there

"I've been looking at the gaming laptops for a replacement for my TP W701. "-- elDog

Have you looked at the possibility of using an eGPU?

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GM's cheaper-than-Tesla 'leccy car tested at batt-powered data centre

John H Woods
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Re: What a horrible paint job

"That paint job is a standard issue for most prototype cars (it's used in one form or other by BMW, JLR, etc) - I understand it's designed to make it difficult to perceive the actual outline of the car" -- Jeff Clarke

Confirmed --- I live just down the road from Gaydon and there are plenty of Jags, Aston Martins, and Range rovers to be seen with these striking line-disrupting paint jobs. Most of them go past so fast that you wonder whether the camo is strictly necessary....

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Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

John H Woods
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Re: How about a swap?

"spanwegian" - love it; weirdest sound I ever heard was fluent Arabic with an unmistakable strong Scouse accent ...

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Online gov services are mostly time-wasting duplicates, says EU

John H Woods
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Enter your email address / telephone number AGAIN to confirm

"WHY?" -- 1980s_coder

+1. I just hold CTRL and press A C I V which normally does it but it's still very annoying!

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Blurred lines, as consumer tech swallows delivery of BIG IT

John H Woods
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Re: Wrong premise

"The problem is 'qualified professionals' who are adamant that CLI is the only way to configure a switch, powershell is the only way to send instructions to Windows, SQL Plus is the only way to control Oracle etc etc. " -- RonWheeler

Of course you can do all those things with a GUI; automating such an approach across multiple instances is a bit of a trial though :-)

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Ecobee3: If you're crazy enough to want a smart thermostat – but not too crazy – this is for you

John H Woods
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Re: Does it really save that much?

"Your heating bill is driven by the heat loss from your house. The rate of loss is set by the standards of insulation, but if you see those as set, then your heat losses are proportional to the delta between inside and outside temperature, multiplied by how long the heating is maintaining that difference." -- Ledswinger

Sorry Ledswinger, I do understand the physics, but I'm still not convinced. Say at 5℃ outside, your house, at 20℃, is 15 K hotter. You drop the thermostat to 15℃ when you are out. Eventually, your house will get to 15℃ and your heat loss rate will be two thirds of what it would have been. But, until it gets to that temperature the reduction of your heat loss is less than a third. And when the heating goes back on, it has to work harder to raise the temperature of the house.

So if your temperature drops to 15 quite quickly, your have more serious problems that your thermostatic control. And if it drops quite slowly, your house is so well insulated that you may as well keep your heating on. You probably don't want to drop your temp by much more than 5K, not just because your heating has to work harder, but because you don't really want to temperature cycle your house and its contents by much more than this on a regular basis.

So, a themostat thats 5K lower when you are out can save you money, but maybe not as much as it seems. But these things have to be even better than that - because their opportunity to save you money is only when you are out and you didn't expect to be. And the most common scenario I see quoted for this "late home from the office" is only going to be a few hours of cooling. Finally, there is only a very brief period in family life when you are all out, or all in at the same time, so unless your the kind of office worker who thinks the spouse and kids should shiver along with you when you're stuck in the data centre, I just don't think the maths adds up for most situations.

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John H Woods
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Does it really save that much?

Going out on a limb here (having no central heating at all, I don't know) but does it really make much difference turning the temperature down when you're out? Surely that can only be the case if you really need to buy some insulation? Or perhaps even shut the windows.

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Why is it that women are consistently paid less than men?

John H Woods
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Re: Next question...

"You could say that it's discrimination against parenthood. I would cast it the other way around, that people discriminate more about work when they are parents." -- Tim Worstall

I agree. I was never keen on working more than my contracted hours for no additional reward before having a family; when you do have a family (or even just a significant other), additional time that you give your employer, whether for free or for additional payment, doesn't 100% belong to you -- so you have to be even more careful.

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John H Woods
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Next question...

... does this mean that, in some sense, there is 'discrimination' against parenthood and, if so, does anything need to be done about it? Entirely open question, just seeking opinions ...

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Nasi goreng pattaya

John H Woods
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Re: Incredibly stupid question!

There's a difference between "left over" rice and that which has been "left out". I'm happy to keep rice till the next day when it has been cooled, covered and refrigerated. But eating last night's takeaway rice when it's been on the counter overnight, no chance. Bacillus cereus food poisoning is very unpleasant and rice is both cheap and quick to prepare: the reward to risk ratio simply does not justify eating day-old rice for most people, even if you'd be fine 90% of the time.

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FLICK my FLINT and SNIFF my TREE on the streets of Naples

John H Woods
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Re: Wacky Idea

@armyknife it is certainly the case that doorstep sellers in the UK have the same old collections of stuff. You even see the same weird items (car window escape hammer and seat belt cutter?, 'amazing' super scissors which can cut 2p coins [i.e. bog standard angled blade serrated steel sheers]).

My guess is that these people are at the bottom of various pyramids, or at any rate, simply selling anything they think they can sell which makes them a reasonable margin - it's just two steps up from begging (the next step is washing windscreens at traffic lights) and I think you are correct that the principle reason for the weird item choice is poverty.

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The world .sucks at a minute past midnight on Sunday

John H Woods
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Re: Does anyone even use these additional add ons?

I managed to snag itsnotexactlyrocket.science for free but I have to agree that the whole gamut of these additional TLDs really doesn't add very much beyond dollars to the pockets of the undeserving.

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At last, switching between rubbish broadband providers now easier

John H Woods
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Re: When did it become a thing for illegal behaviour

Thanks, guys; I googled 'slamming' *facepalm*

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JavaScript creator Eich's latest project: KILL JAVASCRIPT

John H Woods
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Re: And so the wheel turns

Indeed ... as a lifelong Smalltalk afficionado I find many modern programming language developments very pleasing ...

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Disk is dead, screeches Violin – and here's how it might happen

John H Woods
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Re: Let's make this interesting

"If the goal is not reached by that date, they must perform a dare. I'm thinking everyone in the company must shave his eyebrows off." -- Bucky 2

Maybe we can let the company off for being optimistic and blowing their own trumpet. But this is an excellent idea for application to Gartner and the other f̶u̶t̶u̶r̶o̶l̶o̶g̶i̶s̶t̶s̶ analysts!

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John H Woods
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"... less unfriendly to the environment (less materials ..." -- Greg D.

Two more advantages: durability (especially useful in laptops) and power consumption (useful in laptops; probably unimportant in the desktop PC; but significant in datacentres)

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Employees love their IT departments (almost very nearly true)

John H Woods
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A little knowledge ...

... may be a dangerous thing*

The key thing, as per the Dunning-Kruger effect, is that what makes "a little knowledge" dangerous is a lack of realisation (usually, but not always exclusively, on the part of the holder) of its exiguity. If one really knows how little it is (i.e. one is aware both of a wider context and one's own relative ignorance) a small amount of knowledge can be quite useful --- not to mention being an unavoidable step on the path to greater knowledge!

Who wouldn't rather support a user with some knowledge rather than none? It's only once they think they know more than they do that you really start to have a problem. I certainly encourage all the family and friends I support to learn as much as they can about their systems before they call me (even if it's just writing down error messages rather than saying "it's broken").

---

* Yes, I know it's not the original quotation. I was once humiliated in a meeting when I said I had only a little knowledge of the area but I thought I might have an idea, to be rebuffed by someone saying "Well, as Francis Bacon said: 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing'" --- you know the sort of guy I'm talking about. What I would like to have said is "Well, I think you mean Alexander Pope, and I think he was talking about a little learning rather than knowledge, but I think you've both made your point and proved it". What I actually managed to do was to stammer out my idea whilst blushing like a halfwit. It was wrong, but the two people whose opinion I really respected told me it was a good idea, so that was some recompense.

"A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:

There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again."

--- An Essay on Criticism, Alexander Pope

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Zionists stole my SHOE, claims Muslim campaigner

John H Woods
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Re: "El Reg was unable to contact Mossad for a comment"

Expect to see a bit more focus on fibreglass cars in the motoring section ...

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Sun's out, guns out: Plucky Philae probot WAKES UP ... hits 'snooze'

John H Woods
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Re: Cost of launch

"Is anyone seriously looking at Arthur C. Clarkes space elevator ?" -- JimmyPage

Short answer: yes

It's not entirely Clake's idea, and actually dates in some form from late 19th Century. Kevlar, IS2R would be strong enough to build one on the moon, but not on earth -- but carbon nanotubes may eventually make it feasible.

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John H Woods
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Re: Great news, get dressed up for it !

My brother did his research and bought me a copy of that shirt. I shall wear it tomorrow. Hopefully no-one will be offended!

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John H Woods
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Best breaking news on a Sunday ...

... since I can't remember when

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Intel inside: Six of the best affordable PC laptops

John H Woods
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Re: Affordable?

Sorry if I'm boring people with the repetition, but you can get best of both worlds --- my son has an 16GB i7 ThinkPad from ebay -- cheap and hard-to-break. It has a small SSD dual booting Linux and Win7, and the content goes on a 1TB Hybrid HDD in a CD slot caddy. All that cost under £350.

For £100 he got a Village Instruments eGPU box and put a £150 desktop GPU card in it. Now he has a boring and not particularly thief-attracting box that he can take to lectures and lug round the campus, but when he gets back to the dorm he plugs in the eGPU (via PCI-Express slot) and has a very acceptable (for < £600) gaming rig.

You can actually get the eGPU output back onto the laptop screen (although it halves the frame rate --- although we're still talking Black Ops 2 on decent settings at nearly 60fps), and the box isn't too unportable to say, take on holiday. But given that gaming benefits from other not-very-portable items (full size keyboard, room to move a mouse, larger monitors) I'm really not quite sure why the eGPU scene isn't busier ...

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Wikipedia to go all HTTPS, all the time

John H Woods
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Joke

Everybody's doing it ...

... El Reg will be next!

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PHILAE WAKES UP!

John H Woods
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PHILAE WAKES UP!

... according to a report in The Independent, amongst others.

[Edit: The Register also seems to be awake]

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Why is that idiot Osbo continuing with austerity when we know it doesn't work?

John H Woods
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Re: What the...?

"England voted and chose steady hands and smart minds over vacuous left-wing ideas."

Smart minds read articles fully and respond; vacuous idiots mistake obloquy for exposition.

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John H Woods
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"Quite disappointed to find this sort of left wing clap trap in the register - reads more like something out of the socialist worker." --AC

Quite depressing that you and your upvoters think that simply calling something "claptrap" is an effective counter-argument. It also suggests you didn't quite read the article in its entirety, or at least that you didn't quite understand it.

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Gonna RUB MYSELF against the WALL: Microsoft's Surface Hub 84" monster-slab

John H Woods
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I'm going to start selling ...

... massive screen wipes!

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Nude celeb iCloud hack: Feds seize Chicago man's computers

John H Woods
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Re: Someone else?

"Do British IP addresses have TZ offsets?"

Well, he's using 'IP address' as a metonym for a DHCP lease, so ...

... yes, until 25 October. Then no. Until 27 March. Then yes. ...

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A 16 Petaflop Cray: The key to fantastic summer barbecues

John H Woods
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Re: Can anyone clarify?

I think there are a few terms mixed up here. First of all they have used 'certainty' as in 'degrees of certainty' when they could have just said "computational algorithms produce results indicating the probability that a given event [e.g. rain between 12:00 and 13:00 in Hyde Park] will take place"

The second paragraph seems to mean this: "Some customers prefer to make risk-based decisions, on the basis of probabilities: e.g. these customers will benefit from being told that the probability of the aforementioned event is 56% rather than being told 'it will rain' simply because the probability that it will is better than evens"

I noticed when I visited the USA that many people seemed happy with a forecast of "there's a 30% chance of snow" whereas the standard British response to this on a TV weather forecast seems to be "well, will it or won't it?" so I think they may have a cultural issue on their hands as well.

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Chips can kill: Official

John H Woods
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Re: The chief cause of death in laboratory rats...

When I was a scientist (a theoretician, my lab coat was reserved for teaching practicals and looked like I'd stepped out of a laundry detergent commercial), I was told that there were plans afoot to replace lab rats with lawyers, because:

1) There's only a finite number of rats in the world

2) Lab scientists can get attached to their rats

3) There's some things a self-respecting rat just won't do

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Soon your car won't let you drink. But it won't care if you're on the phone

John H Woods
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Re: Wake me up when my car can warn me about a stray hair

I thought you were worrying about a stray hair in the boot there for a minute ...

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Spy: Acres of comedy talent make this smart spook spoof an instant classic

John H Woods
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Re: if you're over 15

There it is again ... the supercilious attitude of those stating "X isn't funny" as a fact when it is quite clear that some people find X funny. You may not find The Big Bang Theory funny, but it really isn't because you are cleverer than every single person who does; you just have a different sense of humour. (NB: I'm not saying TBBT fans are cleverer than you, either.)

As for your own attempt at humour, spotting the jokes "long before the canned laughter man hits the button. Weeks before in some cases" ... really, don't give up the day job. This sort of unoriginal, highly formulaic prose lends very little to your implied claim about having a much more sophisticated appreciation for comedy.

[Edit: and doesn't everybody know that TBBT is filmed live without canned laughter?]

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John H Woods
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"(The Big Bang Theory is not funny and nor was Friends)" ---cambsukguy

if you can sit through an episode of either without laughing at least once, I'm not sure your opinion on what is funny is going to be of much use to me. It might be a bit easier to see where you are coming from if you told us what you do find funny.

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Kaspersky says air-gap industrial systems: why not baby monitors, too?

John H Woods
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Air Gap insufficient

It's really not going to be that long before some consumer devices hop directly onto 3/4G data services. Securing your router is not going to help you much here.

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The USB Lego, bluetooth coffee cups and connected cats of Computex 2015

John H Woods
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Re: I need more power...

"Such a far cry from my youth when our only forms of entertainment on a long trip was a coloring book, license plate bingo, and staring at the scenery" -- AC.

Tell me about it. One of my teens recently complained because there had been about 10 seconds of stuttering in an HD movie he was live-streaming to his tablet as we drove 200miles at around 70mph.

I took them to the NMoC at Bletchley to make them appreciate their kit (and their connectivity) a bit more; it was meant as revenge but they actually loved it.

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John H Woods
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Re: Hmm...

"Real Cat often referred to as the-thing-that-keeps-crapping-all-over-my-garden-instead-of-its-owners'." --- Doctor Syntax

Not pleasant, but better than the alternative you appear to be suggesting; at least you can frighten the cats off with a water pistol ... oh, hold on, new IoT thought ... off to Kickstarter ...

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China's hackers stole files on 4 MEELLION US govt staff? Bu shi, says China

John H Woods
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"HOWEVER, poor security doesn't necessarily obfuscate who the attacker was any more than if there had been good security ... the level and quality of the security that was breached is tangential ..." --- Badger Murphy

I disagree: the higher the level of security, the more restricted the pool of potential culprits. Some attacks are so sophisticated (Stuxnet?) that they are almost certainly nation-state sponsored; on the other hand, a very poorly secured system can be successfully attacked by a much wider range of attackers, including script kiddies and people emailing executable trojans. It must therefore be true that it is harder to justify allegations that a nation-state has attacked you if your security is of a level amenable to much less highly resourced attackers, unless you have very significant evidence of the origin of the attack.

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Ed Snowden should be pardoned, thunders Amnesty Int'l

John H Woods
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Re: What he did.

"None of them are in the slightest bit interested in any of us, they have neither the wherewithal, the time, or the money, and never will in any western democracy." -- Otto is a bear.

Somebody missed their history classes.

"Do you really think any government would leave a communications channel completely unmonitored"

Yes, I'd like to think that they don't have microphones in my house. Are you actually presenting a serious point of view? The words in your post look cogent enough but your arguments make pretty much no sense at all.

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John H Woods
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Re: Sometimes it helps to be old

@boltar,

First you were arguing that people should be guilty unless they could prove their innocence (negative proof fallacy, as well as fundamentally opposed to good jurisprudence); now you're arguing that because agencies have done bad things in the past they should really be allowed to carry on doing it (fallacy of relative privation, maybe some others).

I'm expecting a zig-zag to some form of cultural relativism next ...

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Why did Snowden swipe 900k+ US DoD files? (Or so Uncle Sam claims)

John H Woods
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Re: I know I'm in a minority on here

"you're a smart bunch, but some of us have seen the other side you don't" --AC

How fscking patronizing ... "I'm in possession of secret information that shows that I'm right and you are wrong." You really expect to persuade anyone of anything with that sack of horseshit?

"I value other peoples opinions on this ... we will always have a different opinion ... that's all from me on this."

I really fscking hope you don't do anything significant for national security. What a total dimwit you are.

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FBI: Apple and Google are helping ISIS by offering strong crypto

John H Woods
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Re: Dear ThreeLetterAgencies. Fuck You.

"Many of us grew up in countries where terrorism was a daily threat, we lived with it, we didn't let it affect us" --- big_D

Absolutely. Not only were the IRA and the Baader-Meinhof gang a real and credible threat where I grew up as a child (JHQ Rheindahlen), but the far bigger threat was the sick, authoritarian society just over the wall that was going to roll tanks over Europe and take away all the rights we had fought so hard for. Unfortunately, we didn't see the sick authoritarian society approaching from the opposite point of the compass ...

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Your servers are underwater? Chill OUT, baby – liquid's cool

John H Woods
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Air cooling has some other problems, too ...

... zinc whiskers? Or would that also be a problem with these liquid coolants?

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We stand on the brink of global cyber war, warns encryption guru

John H Woods
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Re: Anybody who uses the term "cyber" in this context ...

I disike the prefix "cyber-", quite possibly for many of the same reasons you do. But it's here and it's going to stay; language evolves, quite often in ways one deprecates, but one has to accept it. And I might even agree that most people using the term "can probably be safely ignored" - but this is Bruce Schneier; so it's unlikely we can so easily consider him a member of that category.

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