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* Posts by John H Woods

1402 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

Curiosity success 'paves way for Man on Mars by 2030s'

John H Woods
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Grey Goo

... not going to happen

Empirically - nothing like it has evolved in 3.5Gy. Why do more complex organisims exist?

Genetically - if it ever did, organisms would evolve resistance. Even if they did not, by the time everything was grey goo, some nanobots would get a replication advantage by organising themselves into more complex structures. So you would have a grey goo phase, but then it would go away again

Thermodynamically - you can only get stuck with an interminable grey goo future if there is no more energy to go into the system. In which case it is game over anyway, goo or not.

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Wikipedia collapses threatening the very fabric of civilisation

John H Woods
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People talk about the inaccuracy of Wpedia...

... as if print media was 100% accurate. I challenge those who have claimed above that Wpedia is effectively worthless to provide a link to a Wpage on an uncontroversial subject that really is downright wrong. I have a lot of problems with Wpedia - the douchebaggery of Wales, the egotistic posturing of admins, etc but it really isn't bad enough to consider it to be mainly, or even significantly, "rubbish".

When my kids' teachers complain that Wpedia isn't always right I agree - but it is *good* to teach them not to rely on any single 'authority'. Check your sources, and apply critical thinking. Even when reading El Reg.

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John H Woods
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Re: I'm in the UK.... the sun is shining....

... and we got our first gold in the showjumping for 6 decades!

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Samsung lengthens Note phone-cum-tablet to 10 inches

John H Woods
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bluetooth or speakerphone, surely...

... but upvoted for the first LOL of the week.

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God-botherers burst onto IPTV Freeview: The End is Nigh

John H Woods
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TV

Sorry, I read that as Transmission Vector rather than TeleVision - probably because I regard religion as a communicable disease,

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Size does matter: Outlook.com punters want meatier passwords

John H Woods
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Unhappy

Re: "The length of a password is less important than its strength"

Wow, I can see you didn't read my post before hitting the downvote button. It actually agrees that 5000^5 is still better than 64^8. It's just a note of caution that the xkcd 'correct horse battery staple' entropy is often overestimated. I'd normally be interested to know why you think my 'argument fails even on it's own rather suspect numbers' but the fact you couldn't even read and comprehend this short post tells me all I need to know.

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John H Woods
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Happy

Re: "The length of a password is less important than its strength"

"Clearly long passwords using just dictionary words are vastly more memorable and secure than 8 letter passwords composed of random characters."

Might be true but most people don't know what many of the 200k words in the English dictionary mean. Most people have a working vocabulary of about 5000 words. I'm pretty much prepared to bet that if you asked most people for 5 random words you would get 5000^5 ~= 10^18 bits of entropy at most. So I reckon you're out by a factor of 100 million or so in you estimate.

You're still better off with this than 8 characters though.

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Neurotrash creativity 'expert' created Dylan quotes from thin air

John H Woods
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The debunked field of sociology ...

There may be a lot in that field that has been debunked but I'm pretty sure that not all sensible people have entirely discarded the idea that at least some social behaviour has genetic foundations.

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Google adds handwriting to mobile search site

John H Woods
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Re: Palm Pilot

I can still Graffiti faster than I can swype or type on a virtual keyboard...

Me too - hence I downloaded Graffiti Pro from the Android Market and use it as my input device. It is almost perfect - just needs configurable shortcuts and a way to switch to speech recognition quickly (rather than switch the input device back to keyboard and press the mic button on that)

Should see people's faces when I am texting :-)

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Ten monster tellies to suit all budgets

John H Woods
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How about TVs vs projector review?

You can get a very decent 100" projector setup (including a decent screen) for under a grand. Some of the new ones have fairly bright pictures, and a side by side comparison with TVs might be useful.

To me, over 2k pounds is clearly into home cinema territory - the only way I would have a TV of this value is if I won one in a competition. YMMV, of course, but I'm a projector enthusiast so even if I just had 500 to spend on a new "telly" I'd get a projector.

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UK ISPs promise punters 'full' and 'open' internet 'access'

John H Woods
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Quantitative Specification required...

... or the specification is worthless. If you manage some class of traffic down to 1 Byte per second, you have effectively blocked it.

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UK Border Agency to create 'national allegations database'

John H Woods
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Re: Low Yeild

UK Conviction rate for rape is high ~ around 60% or so. The 'low' ratio that gets quoted is convictions to complaints of around 6%. Other crimes are not reported in the same way or their clearup rate would appear even lower.

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Google Nexus 7 shipping cock-up enrages fandroids

John H Woods
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Re: It is a bit rubbish...

Just go and get it from Tesco. When the pre-order arrives, send it straight back. You don't have to have a reason to return products you buy mail order (although you may have to pay return postage).

I got mine --- well my son's :-( --- yesterday, despite being addressed to Gordon House.

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Microsoft picks October 26 for Windows 8 launch

John H Woods
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Joke

I hope it's fast...

you wouldn't want to release software called W8 and have people complaining of ... err...

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John H Woods
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I think you'll find...

... that a lot (or at least some) of people with negative comments about Win8 have tried the betas, so it's not that they are 'so clever they already know' -- they have some foundation for their current opinions.

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Expert: EU Microsoft competition fine could reach $7bn

John H Woods
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Re: What a ridiculous situation

Callam,

1) you said you didn't think MS was a monopoly

2) others said you didn't understand what constituted a monopoly

3) you replied with some dictionary definitions of monopoly containing the word 'exclusive'

4) such definitions are not equivalent to the legal definitions, so they are not relevant

5) I'm still not sure you understand what a monopoly is in terms of free markets and the laws which apply

6) Megaupload is not relevant to this case, unless you simply want to say that laws have been abused or misapplied in the past. I don't think anyone would argue that point, but I certainly would argue its relevance.

7) The fact you dispute that MS has harmed consumers is

a) based on your own personal opinion which may not adequately describe the entire situation

b) again, not really relevant.

I think what you are trying to say is that MS should never have been found to have been abusing a monopoly position, because either (a) they aren't a monopoly and/or (b) they didn't abuse being one. It's a bit like saying you disagree with a sentence that someone has been given, because it is too harsh, and when you are challenged on that, saying you didn't really think they were guilty in the first place.

As you can imagine, such a form of argument is rather frustrating, which is why, I believe, you have had some short-tempered responses.

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John H Woods
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Re: What a ridiculous situation

Callam, mate, at this point you should probably go and read up on what a monopoly is rather than continue posting your opinions. We will be glad to debate the issue with you once we think you understand that fundamental point.

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Judge: Apple must run ads saying Samsung DIDN'T copy the iPad

John H Woods
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Re: Bizarre

It's no more bizarre than insisting a newspaper retracts a false allegation. What is bizarre is that you think a judgment insisting on such a retraction is equivalent to allowing the complainant to defecate on the defendants' vehicles.

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John H Woods
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He's not asking them to *promote* Samsung - he's just insisting that they correct the public impression they have given, by media statements and highly visible lawsuits, that Samsung have copied the iPad.

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Compare the Market loses .XXX smut-squat appeal

John H Woods
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Unhappy

WHAT!

I thought it was a REAL meerkat. Thanks a lot for spoiling that for me.

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Britain: A nation of txt addicts who prefer Twitter to phoning mum

John H Woods
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Re: anothr slow newsday...

...indeed. And I love the widely reported interpretation that we are now 'texting more than we are phoning'. Maybe there are more texts than phone calls, but many text exchanges are multiple texts, and most phone conversations carry more information than texts.

I'm also not sure why the drop in voice should worry the mobile telcos that much - don't they have a much higher profit margin on text?

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Wikipedia failing to recruit any new admins

John H Woods
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Unhappy

Re: Used to edit there...

I agree - the admins are often plonkers. My last ever wikipaedophilia edit was to change a minor typo where someone had written that induction hobs had to meet 'minimal saftey standards' for impact. I changed it to minimum and it was immediately changed back. The admin, who was either thick and/or not a native English speaker insisted the terms were synonyms and that there was therefore no need to change them. I pointed out that if he were correct, there would have been no need to revert my changes, but to no avail.

It's all ego with these guys, there's no arguing with them.

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Giant super-laser passes 500 TRILLION watts

John H Woods
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Re: So what does American spelling of LASER stand for then

'-ize' are perfectly acceptable in English, a fact not always recognized by the dictionaries that accompany software. A quick scan of e.g. Jane Austen will confirm that the original English spelling was usually 'z' and the Americans simply kept it - it was the Brits that morphed to 's'.

I'm a bit puzzled that you think that Americans 'tend to spell' laser with a Z - do you have evidence for this?

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UK snoop system had 1,000 COCKUPS - including 2 duff cuffs

John H Woods
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Yes, me too - that's a huge number of requests. Fishing expedition rather than investigation, I fear.

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UK's web super-snoop powers could be extended to councils

John H Woods
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Unhappy

Re: Disgusting

"I'm sure I can remember a day in my childhood where I believe UK citizens may have actually had rights"

I can remember a day in my childhood, at JHQ Rheindahlen, when I realised why we were prepared to risk nuclear war with the Soviets rather than allow them to roll their sick authoritarian society over Europe. A few decades before, millions of people had given their lives to prevent a different sick authoritarian regime doing the same.

Why are all our governments obsessed with deploying the machinery of totalitarianism?

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Web snooping bill an 'odious shopping list of new gov powers'

John H Woods
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Hypothetical...

Let's say we discovered (Hogwarts Style) magic; there would be no limit whatsoever to the amount of surveillance you could do. Where would our politicians draw the line?

This is the question that should be asked of every Home Sec, prime or cabinet minister: If it were possible to intrude entirely into the lives of every citizen, how much do you think is appropriate?

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Can neighbours grab your sensitive package, asks Post Office

John H Woods
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Joke

Relive your youth ...

Miss playing thunder and lightning? Relive your youth by becoming a DHL delivery driver, ringing doorbells and running away!

(Thanks to TopTweets)

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Being a skinny is much more unhealthy than being fat – new study

John H Woods
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Re: BMI is garbage

ITYM waist measurement should be less than HALF height LOL

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Texas Higgs hunters mourn the particle that got away

John H Woods
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Re: Enough bickering you lot...

Theme park? Film set? Brand new kind of sport? You might be on to something.

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John H Woods
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FAIL

Re: ... Pluto

Basic knowledge is not subject to the whim of a committee; our understanding of the solar system changes. In this case it was not some discovery about Pluto (OMG it isn't a planet after all) but a discovery that there were quite a few objects out there with just as strong (or weak) claim to be called planets.

So there were three choices

1) regard "planet" as meaning "things we used to call planets"

2) keep the existing notion of planet and accept that we have many more planets in our solar system

3) formalise the definition of planet causing there to be (one) fewer planets our solar system

Imagine if we'd found not just the Higgs but a brand new unexpected boson. Would it be sensible to change the definition of boson to "bosons we had discovered (or anticipated) up till 2012"?

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The touchscreens that push back, thanks to Brit hi-fi boffinry

John H Woods
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Re: Pedantry excused

A la recherche du timbres perdu?

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HTC bags UK win in patent war with Apple

John H Woods
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Re: Take note america!

David138: "Thank god the UK justice system works....unless its deporting Terroists."

... or punishing twits ... or not punishing multi-gazillion pound fraudsters. But this is a jolly good result.

I'm interested that Apple felt able to say what they said afterwards . If I'd taken someone to court for shoplifting and, on the basis of the evidence, the case had been dismissed, I think it would be frowned upon if I were to come out and say "See, it just shows people can steal from me with impunity".

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Who runs UK? 'Tories, Lib Dems and Google' says Labour

John H Woods
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No, but...

Labour may not be able to take the moral high ground, but possession of that notional landmass is largely irrelevant: if my fat GP tells me I need to exercise more, it is a bit of a cheek, but it doesn't really invalidate his argument.

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Twitter exposes Gov't requests for user data

John H Woods
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@skelband

"I can't imagine what you could fit into a Twitter message that would be subject to DMCA takedown notices."

I'm guessing URLs to copyright content?

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US federal boffins insist that mermaids DON'T exist

John H Woods
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Happy

Great Big Sea

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FM9UyBQELc

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Jaw-jaw no more-more as calls fall down tally of phone tasks

John H Woods
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The Germans already have ...

"Handy". I've also heard "Smartie". Both of these seem a bit infantile.

Increasingly my kids refer to tablets and phones - at least the ones that can't be called iPads, iPhones, or Blackberrys - as 'droids, which sounds a little better to my ears. But I think El Reg got there first with 'Slab'.

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London cops order Julian Assange to turn himself in

John H Woods
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Re: Technicalities

+1 paralipsis

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Apple patent may foretell an end to iPhone autocorrect Tourette's

John H Woods
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Dics too big

The main problem with autocorrect, imho, is that the dictionaries are vastly huger than the optimal size. After about 3 autocorrect muff-ups I swyped 'this is ridiculous' only to end up sending 'this is Tuscaloosa'.

Similar problems with spellcheckers in word-processors or browsers. It's much better to question a new word (with the option to add to the user's personal dictionary) than to consider it a correctly spelt obscure or archaic word. Only crossword-solving dictionaries need to be big.

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Dixons and Best Buy start selling Google Chromebooks

John H Woods
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Re: The case for the defence

"Don't much care whether I buy this stuff on Amazon, John Lewis, Dixons or PC World/Currys"

Probably doesn't matter as much as whether you buy it in a shop or by mail order. If you do the latter, you can send it back if you don't like it, even if it works perfectly; if you do the former you may find you have to argue your case unless the item is faulty (or sometimes, even if it is).

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Ministers consult public on 'opt in for smut' plans

John H Woods
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Re: At the same time lets

Richard Rae: "You shagged without a contraception, you have a kid you TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ITS EDUCATION!"

More than happy to. If the government will let me.

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'Inexperienced' RBS tech operative's blunder led to banking meltdown

John H Woods
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FAIL

{in}experience of ONE person...

... is not a good enough reason for this fiasco.

Consider: "a lone terrorist hacked the system / posed as an employee / whatever and caused a banking crisis affecting nearly 20m people for nearly 2 weeks"

Even if the poor bugger had done it ON PURPOSE there is NO EXCUSE for what happened next. It is a system failure on every conceivable level and therefore the ultimate blame must absolutely lie with management.

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Chess algorithm written by Alan Turing goes up against Kasparov

John H Woods
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Miek...

... be fair! There's a difference between writing pseudocode before you go to the computer and writing it before the bloody thing has even been invented :-)

BTW: match is at http://www.chessvibes.com/reports/garry-kasparov-versus-alan-turings-1950-chess-program, worth a look.

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Resistive Ram cache to make Flash fly, say boffins

John H Woods
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Re: How much does RRAM cost?

There's a million square cm in 100 square m. So your chum reckons you need a zetabit to "fully describe every atom in a human body"

IS2R there's about 10^26 atoms in a kilo of meat, so around 7e27 in a body. A zetabit gets you about 1 millionth of what you need for 1bit per atom, which is hardly enough for a "full description" (say, which element it is, and its 3D coordinates at a sufficient resolution). Even 100m x 100m wouldn't be enough - I reckon you are going to need 6e12 cm^2 - 600 square kilometres - just to get a bit per atom.

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DDR 4 sets the pace for fast memory

John H Woods
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Not much need ...

... to correct you either, because you were almost right - certainly close enough to make the point.

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Boffins program peripheral visions for ultra TV immersion

John H Woods
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How long until...

... we get themepark style air blasters capable of battering one with hot air full of the smell of burning?

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