* Posts by John H Woods

1408 posts • joined 14 Nov 2007

Kiwis rally against 'snoops' charter' law

John H Woods
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I came here to say the same thing. It's significant when politicians say stuff like that because it either shows that they are tragically stupid, or that they think we all are - either of which being sad state of affairs for an elected representative.

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Apple drops hints about future low-cost iPhones

John H Woods
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Hypothesis

"If there are lots of other tablets selling, I don't know what they're being used for."

If I want the mobile version of a website I'll ask for it in the URL and don't want it assumed on the basis of my user agent string, which is consequently set to masquerade as a desktop. Maybe I'm not the only one?

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Leap Motion Controller: Hands up for PC air gestures. That's the spirit

John H Woods
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If i'd invented this ...

... I'd be focussing on all those areas where being restricted to 2D can be problematic - modelling tools such as Blender and some of the game level creation kits (like Bethesda's GECK).

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Burger-rage horse dumps on McDonald's: Rider saddled with fat fine

John H Woods
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Re: Damn horses

I completely agree that pedestrian walkways and cycle paths should not have so much horseshit on them that you cannot easily walk or cycle on them - which is what you appear to be suggesting. But it's difficult to take that seriously if you think horse shit is more offensive than dog shit - surely you can't be serious?

A person riding a horse, although they should avoid areas where droppings will cause a problem, can absolutely not be expected to clean up! What do you suggest ... get off, scoop it into a giant rucksack and get back on? A reasonable size horse drops several kg per hour, cannot safely be expected to stand quietly unless tied - and also may not be that easy to get back on if you aren't near a mounting block.

If you have a problem with the horses producing the "obstacles", have a word with the riders about taking a different route. Suggesting they poop-scoop (except within about 50m of the yard gates) is likely to fall on deaf ears, for a very good reason.

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French boffins: Regard, our record-breaking long, fat, wet pipe

John H Woods
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Can I really be the first to say ...

Ceci n'est pas une pipe?

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SIM crypto CRACKED by a SINGLE text, mobes stuffed with spyware

John H Woods
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I'm surprised that single DES was still considered acceptable recently enough to be in cards like this - IS2R that 3DES was being advanced in the late 1990s as a result of single DES being considered vulnerable (although, IIRC, that was mainly because the key length was two short).

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Windows desktop VDI

John H Woods
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This is a very interesting discussion -

- maybe a different format (IRC chat, G+ hangout etc) would be a useful way for a few of us to get together and thrash out a few ideas?

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John H Woods
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How about this ...

I'd be tempted to try something like this - you can do one old windows machine at a time.

  • Clean cruft from hard disk, defrag, use GPARTED or similar to get it to work on a single partition with just a few GB spare
  • Install some stable Linux on your server, Debian or Ubuntu 12LTS should be fine
  • Install VirtualBox on that server and see if you can run your old machine successfully as a VM - you'll either convert the raw disk partition to a Virtual Disk Image (my pref) or use the existing raw image with the appropriate VMDK settings
  • If that works, try running that vm image headless, and connecting to it with RDP
  • And if that works, back up that image, nuke the original machine it came from, and install a lightweight linux with an RDP client.

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CONFIRMED: Driverless cars to hit actual British roads by end of year

John H Woods
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Re: Next headline

"Need?"

What I said was we need to be able to start working on it. Not that we need to be working on it, just that some of the laws forbidding automatic control of brake and steering need to be relaxed for us to make cars even safer.

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John H Woods
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Re: Next headline

Driverless cars will, of course cause accidents. But the bar has been set very low by human drivers. AI cars do not need to me very much safer before they are saving hundreds of lives per year.

I don't care how brilliant you think you are at driving - an automatic warm-body-detected-autobrake would require no actual AI worth speaking of. But it could brake a car from 40 to 20mph in the time that a human would require to see the person, move the foot from the throttle to the brake, and begin to press on it. It would be stopping the car even before a top-gun fighter pilot could have reacted, let alone Joe Average Driver.

I see this legislation as opening up the way for increasing automation of driving - it doesn't have to go immediately to fully driverless in all circumstances, but we need to be able to start working towards it.

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John H Woods
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Re: Funny you should say that

"Anyway, I drive an old but high end BMW (bangernomics yay!) and a similar spec Audi. I let people out at junctions just to confuse them."

Me (although in a little A3 cab) too ! I stopped for a cyclist yesterday and he looked *really* confused. My wife pictured him at the cafe where all the MAMILs (middle-aged-men-in-lycra) hang out: "Hey this Audi stopped for me on a single track road and waited for me to pass" Chorus: "No! Don't be stupid, what do you take us for? Have you been drinking? .. etc."

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Apple needs help: iWatch, 'Retina' iPad mini delayed until 2014?

John H Woods
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Re: tagged

You may have hit the nail on the head - the demographic for identical watches is probably the same as the one which wears Star Trek costumes to parties....

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Man sues Apple for allowing him to become addicted to PORN

John H Woods
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There need to be 3 possible verdicts for a civil suit

Plaintiff wins, gets costs & possibly some damages

Plaintiff loses, pays own costs, may have to pay other sides costs, but not necessarily.

Plaintiff judged such a fuckwit that they have to pay other side's costs + massive fine for wasting courts time.

We have the same problem here (in a less extreme form) where no-win, no-fee suits against public organisations such as the NHS are effectively risk free, and where the costs of settling are less than the costs of going to court the organisations just swallow the bill. Which means the taxpayers do.

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UK.gov fines itself harshly for hurling NHS records to the winds

John H Woods
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Re: Hypothetically speaking

"How long will it take me to securely erase that many hard disks using the Guttman method?"

Even Guttman would say that this is irrelevant (used to be here: www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/secure_del.html but it's not loading today). One or two passes of random overwriting would be fine. Of course it would take you far too long to extract the disks, load them into DBAN stations and queue them all through sequentially.

So - don't do it! Before unplugging a desktop from the power and the network to cart off to the store room, boot from a DBAN USB stick and leave it chugging on the desktop. The machines should be wiped before they even leave the users desks.

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HP admits to backdoors in storage products

John H Woods
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Re: Complexity !

"Complexity is irrelvant in passwords,what's important is length."

What's important is the number of bits of entropy in the password (although I guess you could say that's the length when expressed in binary). I reckon your second password counts as about 60 bits. Written English has only 1-3 bits of entropy per character, so there's a good chance your passwords pretty similar in strength - it's certainly not definitely the case that the password you say is better really is the better one.

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Curriculum Vitae - must rage

John H Woods
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Pint

Good free advice is always welcome ...

... I don't know where you're based so your pint is virtual.

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Ciseco Pi-Lite: Make a Raspberry Pi trip light fantastic with 126 LEDs

John H Woods
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Any one remember ...

... those single column displays? A single column of rapidly switched, very bright LEDs that worked through persistence of vision. You looked directly at it and saw a single thin column of sparkling red points, but then moved your head or eyes and you could see the word SMIRNOFF spelled out on your retina.

Did I just dream this? Or was it done with lasers?

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Oi, jobless yoofs: Upload a witty video bio if you wanna find work

John H Woods
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up to 70 applicants for each job ...

... does not imply that graduates outnumber jobs 70:1, although I'm guessing that's the shock factor they're going for. In the extreme case, with 70 suitable jobs, and 70 suitable applicants, each applicant applies for all 70 jobs, and there's no problem at all.

If they weren't just attention seeking, a figure representing the ratio of graduates to appropriate opportunities would be a much more useful measurement of the problem. And if you provided figures broken down by specialism, that would be a seriously worthwhile thing to do. Unlike this, which is not just a pathetic waste of time and money but a retrograde step in that it can only serve to encourage various forms of discrimination.

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Universities teach us a thing or two about BYOD

John H Woods
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Does this really count as BYOD?

To me, BYOD implied a requirement to run a Standard Operating Environment. If you are 'just' allowing network access and possibly web-based applications, surely it's only half the problem?

My company, I think, would expect its employees to have an SOE with Lotus Notes, Microsoft Office, our selection of anti-malware tools, particular VPN clients and so on - including a few options based on role (e.g. Visio). Furthermore, there would be full disk encryption, in the expectation that documents and other assests you create for the company have to stay in corporate controlled storage. Getting that working on a bunch of different devices that the staff might choose is a completely different kettle of fish to just giving them network access and the URLs for a few server-side apps.

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Seven snazzy smartphones for seven sorts of shoppers

John H Woods
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Re: staff unfailingly polite, helpful and eager

<sheldon>... I refuse to contribute to the devaluation of the word genius ...</sheldon>

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Star Wars missile intercept fails for fifth year running

John H Woods
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Headmaster

Quoting Einstein...

If that were true I'd be insane for correcting this every time I see it, rather than just foolishly optimistic ... but here goes.

Firstly, there's no evidence that Einstein ever said this (best evidence is Rita Mae Brown paraphrasing a NA text which contain the much justifiable Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.. (The line is on p 25/68, end of fourth paragraph). Secondly, without the crucial emphasis on repeating mistakes, the quote makes little sense and could almost be seen as self evidently false: you could argue that significant ability in almost anything difficult - kung fu, piano, running, software development - can only be achieved through a huge amount of repetition.

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Snowden: US and Israel did create Stuxnet attack code

John H Woods
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Headmaster

Using the proper date format.

The proper date format would be 2001-09-11.

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Passphrase vs Masking

John H Woods
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Thanks

Phil that sounds like a good idea, although I understand that most fprint readers let you use alternative fingers in case you have, e.g. a sticking plaster on one of them, so you'd need some flexibility for that.

TeeCee, thanks for the info about that - I didn't realise that it had been debunked, I'll look out for that episode.

I absolutely agree about two-factor authentication (I use it for my work VPN) but I'm not sure I agree about password visibility. For instance, when you are in your own office, mounting an encrypted volume, you are fairly sure about having the requisite privacy. But you still want that password to be extremely strong so that your data remains safe if your server is stolen. This is even more true of mobile devices - sometimes you know you are in a safe environment, and mostly you know you will also be frequently taking that device into a less safe environment.

However, if there were a hidden hi-def camera of which you were unaware, I'm pretty sure that a slow-mo replay of you entering the password, even as a ten-finger typist, would yield so much information about the content of the password that it would make it relatively easy to crack. Even if you can only identify the hand and the row you have narrowed each character to about 5 possibilities.

On balance though, I think you have convinced me that it's a dumb idea, and if I value security I should just accept the occasional need to retype a long passphrase. Who knows, maybe it will even improve the accuracy of my typing!

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John H Woods
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Re: Passphrase vs Masking

Hi Phil, thanks for the answer.

But I think I don't need blobs when typing on my laptop - any sufficiently well positioned observer / camera can see what I'm typing. Blobs make me feel happy about entering my password with other people watching - which I shouldn't.

As for fingerprint readers, they are a nice idea but cheapy laptop built-ins are pretty terrible. I think they can be defeated by someone lifting your prints from a glass with tape and then simply scanning the tape.

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John H Woods
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Passphrase vs Masking

One of the problems about using a passphrase instead of a password is that once you have become aware you have mistyped, you often have to start again from the beginning. My favoured solution is a a check-to-unmask*, but I was wondering what you guys would think of a compromise where spaces show up as spaces and everything else shows up as * or the standard password blob.

*actually I prefer it to also default to be unmasked.

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Idaho patriots tool up to battle Jihad with pork bullets

John H Woods
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Meh

Re: Any pointers on how I can be a better agnostic?

Easy...

Stop accepting medieval beliefs dreamt up by a bunch of high-on-mushrooms bronze-age goatherds as certain, or even likely, to be true in the face of all the evidence that this is not the case.

You're welcome.

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John H Woods
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Flame

Re: So much for respecting the religious beliefs of other people.

You totally missed the point. What is your interfaith dialog but simple respect of each other? You don't believe in Allah, they don't believe in Jehova. Neither of your religions allow for a dualistic approach where you are both worshipping the same God. You can say you respect their religion but really you are dissembling.

I similarly count people of all beliefs amongst my friends, including the moon hoax and cost-effective off-shoring I mentioned.. Doesn't stop me believing they are completely wrong and that their beliefs are stupid. I'm just honest enough to say that their beliefs don't make any kind of sense when seen against what I know to be true.

It is the monotheistic religions themselves which say "my religion is the only way" - it's just that each religion's shouty bigots are less embarrassed about saying so. Your diplomacy towards believers of other faiths does you credit, but plenty of antitheists like myself have read your holy books and we KNOW what your religions say. They are not mutually compatible beliefs, at least some of you are wrong, and to my mind you all are. And more importantly if you are a Christian who thinks Islam is a valid belief, you are probably breaking your own rules - they are there in black and white, e.g. Commandment 2.

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John H Woods
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Re: So much for respecting the religious beliefs of other people.

+1 Jake. People deserve respect, beliefs don't.

If they believe my disrespect of their beliefs(e.g. one the Abrahamic religions; the moon landing was faked; offshore coding is cost-effective) is a disrespect of them as a person, then that is just one more belief of theirs that I do not respect, but I will continue to try to respect them as a person.

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Live or let dial - phones ain’t what they used to be

John H Woods
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You lucky git ...

... I look like an infamous Norwegian maniac

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How City IT is under attack from politicians, diesel bugs, HR

John H Woods
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Re: Smalltalk

"Me too!"

^ (Queue new for: 'Smalltalk Jobs') add: 'Mike 102'; add: self.

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Korean doctors: Smartphones really ARE doing your head in

John H Woods
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I agree...

... the same is sometimes true of Gaming. My kids are Fallout crazy, they were always playing it. But they've spent the last 6 weeks creating their own levels, learning how to script things, editing 3d meshes, etc. Now they want help building a tips&tricks website to host some of their own content. Is this brain-destroying? I doubt it.

You need to let kids be kids. Same with horses - there's a degree of control you need to exert, or everyone gets hurt, but control-freakery will get you nowhere fast - possibly causing lasting damage.

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Boffins create tabletop ANTIMATTER GUN

John H Woods
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Relatavistic

- is this a throwback to earlier spelling mistakes?

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Charlie Miller to tell Vegas punters how to hack your car

John H Woods
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True but ...

If I understand it correctly, this would enable you to fix equipment to a car that would stay undetected for an arbitrary period and later allow an attacker to remotely take control of a vehicle on a high speed road, disable the breaking, accelerate to full speed and then deliberately crash. Difficult to do that with a spanner.

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Apple's Tim Cook: I'm risking my own MEELLLIONS if we sink

John H Woods
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I thought this was more impressive ...

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US DoJ: Happy b-day, Ed Snowden! You're (not?) charged with capital crimes

John H Woods
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Headmaster

Re: So hypothetically

Off topic -- PLEASE do not use 'fx' as an abbreviation for For Example.

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Google staffing boss: Our old hiring procedures were 'worthless'

John H Woods
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A long time ago ...

... my mentor and first manager in IT Consultancy (after I left academia) ... told me that the point of an interview was often misunderstood - it was social, rather than technical. According to him you

1) select CVs that match well (use technical people to read them)

2) interview to find the people you LIKE, and feel you could get on with in a team. His interviews appeared to be no more than a relaxed chat, but you'd be amazed how many loons could rule themselves out with ill-chosen statements or strange behaviour.

3) mention that you have a 1 month probationary period; the last 3 guys got the chop during that period, and that you are really glad to meet someone who does have the skills they claim to have and who can stay the distance. if they are still interested you give them the job.

4) if they are rubbish, you sack them very quickly and call the people you politely rejected last time.

You *cannot* find out what someone knows in an interview for any remotely technical role, and you can't solve this with harder or longer (5 days!) interviews. You can find people you LIKE, and if you find their abilities do not match what they claimed, you can sack them. Because you used step (1) you can sack them on the grounds they lied on their CV, which is pretty much a humdinger, and no tribunals result. It's much harder to sack people because they don't get on with the team - although these people cause a lot of damage, even where they are individually capable.

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John H Woods
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I don't like generalizations ...

... or people called Bernard.

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Kim Dotcom victim of 'largest data MASSACRE in history'

John H Woods
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Re: Shrobbery

+1, but you forgot to mention that it appears to have been an armed assault on his residence

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AXE-WAVING BIKER GANG SMASHES into swanky Apple UK store

John H Woods
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Re: couple of years late

You should have bought it and given it back to the owner!

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PC makers REALLY need Windows 8.1 to walk on water - but guess what?

John H Woods
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Unhappy

Re: My solution

"1080p screen"

I beg to differ: there is absolutely no way that 1920x1080 is acceptable for an 14-15" screen. We don't want to watch movies, we want to do work - without getting migraines. In my opinion, we need to be north of 200 dpi, in order to do this properly.

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TypeScript 0.9 arrives with new compiler, support for generics

John H Woods
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Re: Just what the world needs …

Wanted to upvote 2x, 1 for clear info and 2 for amusing idiom.

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Boffins build headless robo-kitties

John H Woods
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Re: Sounds legit

"wasn't allowed due to unhelpful landlords"

As an ex private landlord, I'm pretty sure 'no pets' carries no legal weight whatsoever. It's less hassle to have a clause that says "pets welcome" and to put in a provision for reparations, and it makes you look better too.

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Desperate Venezuelans wiped clean of bog roll

John H Woods
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"a cache of 2,500 rolls of the stuff"

Wow is that even a container full? Wouldn't keep my family of 5 going for more than a couple of weeks. What the hell do teenagers do with toilet roll? And, funnily enough, I recall my dad asking the same question about 30 years ago.

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Young blokes blinded by video-game addiction: THE FACTS

John H Woods
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Re: RealLife(tm)...

... I find all that 3D stuff gives me a headache (props to xkcd, of course).

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Interwebs taunt Sir Jony over Apple eye candy makeover

John H Woods
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Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

Found a 3.5" floppy in the back of a drawer the other day and showed it to my kids. OH! they said, THAT'S why the save icon is that weird little shape!

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1-in-10 e-tomes 'are self-published'... most are 'rubbish' says book ed

John H Woods
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Re: Can anyone explain ...

unable?

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Online music world on iRadio: Apple, imagine our concern

John H Woods
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Isn't iRadio going to be what Jango already is? I don't understand.

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PM Cameron calls for modern, programmable computers! (We think)

John H Woods
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Re: Fail!

+1. Arithmetic should be completely mastered by age 11 at the latest: there is no place at all for arithmetic in secondary education.

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'THINNEST EVER' spinning terabyte beauty slips out of WD fabs

John H Woods
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Sigh

1TB = 1000GB, 1TiB=1024GiB. Unless you are measuring memory, where the context strongly suggests a power of two, there is no reason to assume anything other than a power of 10 is meant by an SI prefix.

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Sneaky new Android Trojan is WORST yet discovered

John H Woods
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Re: Non-problem? Hardly.

The privileges are not granular enough. You don't have the option of installing an app with some privileges, so you either accept full access to SD card, or you do without the app -- No option to chroot an app to subfolder on the SD card, You either accept access to the camera or you do without the app -- no option for "ask me each time". This would also be useful with "services that cost money"

There is also, afaik, no log of which app invoked which privilege and when, so there is no auditing. So, in my experience, although I don't like it, the accept permissions step of most apps I'm interested in is pretty much just one more click you have to make.

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