* Posts by Filippo

544 posts • joined 24 Nov 2007

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Mobiles at school could be MAKING YOUR KID MORE DUMBER

Filippo

Re: They actually allow phones to be switched on during class?

One thing is to ban mobile phones in class.

Another thing entirely is to ban mobile phones in class and enforce the ban.

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Doom is BOOM! BOOM! BACK!

Filippo

The scare-out-of-the-chair moment for me was my first encounter with the rocket-launcher-wielding demon, which you meet from a very long distance in a large space.

"Ooh, that thing over there looks like a new monster. Hmm, it seems to have a dot in the middle. Which is growing fast. And has flames behind it. Oh CR...!"

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Acer: 'We will be the last man standing in the PC industry'

Filippo

Do the laptops still start overheating easily after a couple of years, due to dust accumulating in places where it's damn near impossible getting it out?

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

Filippo

I'd love to just go the correct-horse-battery-staple route, but most sites won't let me. Rejecting a 30+ characters password just because it's all lower-case is stupid.

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Neurobabble makes nonsense brain 'science' more believable

Filippo

If you take a good thermal image of a desktop computer and analyse it carefully, you can probably figure out its current power state and whether it's running a videogame, or doing heavy network traffic, or idling. But there's no way in hell you can use that to figure out what videogame it's running, or what type of data is being transmitted on the network, or what's the desktop background.

The relationship between fMRI and psychology is pretty much the same.

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Ford: Our latest car gizmo will CHOKE OFF your FUEL if you're speeding

Filippo

Can we have a hack that only engages it when approaching a speedometer? ;-)

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Israeli boffins hack air gap, fire missiles on compromised kit

Filippo

Re: Why not use audio

...exfoliation?

2
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Siri, you're fired: Microsoft Cortana's elbows into iOS, Android

Filippo

Re: Microsoft pathetic spin

If I left home for the airport when Google Now told me, I'd systematically miss flights. If I ask OK Google for directions to something, half of the time it runs a Google search instead of starting maps. It sometimes gives me a notification when I'm on the motorway to tell me about roadworks ahead, which would be nice if only I got it before entering the motorway, and if there was a way to read the notification or have it read to me without moving my hands from the wheel. Just about the only thing where it's reliably more convenient than using my hands is to set an alarm clock.

I have no idea if Cortana does any of this, or anything at all, better than Google. But you can't tell me that there isn't vast, vast room for improvement.

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Pebble Time Steel ready in May. Plus: Now you can strap on sensors, GPS ... Geiger counter

Filippo

battry risks

I don't think there's ever going to be a battery that's not dangerous in some way if damaged. The whole point of a battery is to store large amounts of readily-available energy. That's pretty much the definition of dangerous.

2
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Nokia boss smashes net neutrality activists

Filippo

Semantic confusion

NN and QoS have pretty much nothing to do with each other, and regardless of how you feel about NN, everyone should be fine with QoS. In theory.

The problem is that there are activists who don't know the difference between net neutrality and QoS, and who are rabid enough that any attempt to explain it will be met with suspicion and automatically disregarded. You meet them in every field of politics - the guys who feel passionately about something, be it net neutrality, vaccines, economics, global warming, whatever, but actually hold a grossly oversimplified view of the problem, probably based on slogans, and aggressively resist any attempts to explain them that the issue is more complex than they think. They are the guys who, if you try to tell them that QoS and NN are two different issues, will answer with "all priority on IP is bad" and refuse to hear any argument to the contrary, or at best will attempt to argue that QoS is a slippery slope towards prioritizing premium content.

The big problem is that some lawmakers have constituencies that are primarily made of these guys. Some of these guys actually are lawmakers, which is even worse.

2
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Want a MEEELLION-year data storage? Use DNA of course

Filippo

WORO?

Just stick it into bacteria and let them reproduce. When you want to read it, pick up a few of them. Sure, the reproduction step will cause error rates to skyrocket, especially over a million years, but the information density is so high that you can just go overkill on the ECC algorithms.

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Lightbulb moment for visible light networking: 200 Gbps without a fibre

Filippo

Re: What's the use case for 100 Gbps wireless?

The use case is when you have several users close to each other.

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SWINGBELLIES! Take heed AGAIN: Booze shortens your life

Filippo

Half of all stuff is good for you, the other half is bad. But the effect is always on the order of a few %s or less, and which half is which switches weekly.

Personally, I figure that as long as you don't do patently stupid things (e.g. smoke, eat twice the calories you need, never ever exercise, completely exclude major food groups, get drunk frequently), you should be fine or close enough.

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'Giving geo-engineering to this US govt is like giving a CHILD a LOADED GUN'

Filippo

Well, of course deploying this sort of tech would be a stupendously bad idea. It's a complete unknown; all we have are models that keep being proven inaccurate at best, and biased for political reasons at worst.

That's exactly the reason why *doing research* on it, on the other hand, is a very good idea. *If and when* it turns out that putting mirrors in space is actually what we need, I'd really like for the tech to have already been developed and tested.

There is one other MAJOR problem. Any mirror system in space that's big enough to affect the weather is automatically a terrifying WMD. And weaponisation of space is forbidden by international treaty. I'm sure that there are hidden weapons up there, but this wouldn't be something you can hide. If the USA tried to do something like this, even a comparatively small-scale experiment, Russia, China and everyone else would (with pretty good reasons) raise hell about it.

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Major US news organisations to develop ROBOT JOURNALISTS

Filippo

Meh. If they actually go out and get the news, instead of just copy'n'pasting twitters and press releases, they'll still be better than 90% of the current crop of meatsack journalists.

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ALIENS are surely AMONG US: Average star has TWO potentially Earth-like worlds

Filippo

Re: Space is big, signals are weak

Extremely unlikely. There is no selective pressure to be able to communicate across interstellar distances, but there is plenty of pressure to conserve energy. A species that used radio biologically wouldn't do so at very high power.

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Want a cheap Office-er-riffic tablet? Microsoft Windows takes on Android

Filippo

So, this thing has a full Windows (by which I mean, it runs desktop programs) and costs less than a hundred? That's interesting. Windows Store apps may be few, but on the desktop you can run pretty much anything; I could see using one of these for some special-purpose application.

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EU-turn: Greenpeace pressure WON'T mean axing of Chief Scientist

Filippo

@Matt 21

His job isn't to know everything about the subject. His job is to provide useful policy advice. That requires knowing about the subject, but it doesn't require to know *everything*. For example, part of his job would be to consult with the European societies you mention, balance their opinions, and figure out which ones are reliable.

It doesn't require infallibility either. Part of his job would be to figure out what's the consensus and whether it looks solid enough to base policy on.

Basically, his job is to be in the middle between the actual scientists and the actual politicians, two groups that don't share any common language, and make communication possible. It's a job that a small group headed by one person can do.

3
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ALIEN fossils ON MARS: Curiosity snaps evidence of life

Filippo

Re: Unconvincing hype @ ST

Uh, no. The lady is proposing a *testable* hypothesis. That's what makes it science. Unless you believe that something is not science until it's been established as fact, in which case ... I don't even know where to begin explaining why you're wrong.

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Microsoft kills its Euro pane in the a**: The 'would you prefer Chrome?' window

Filippo

Re: Sooooooooo

If you are capable of doing that, you also don't need a ballot window to remind you that you can install other browsers than IE.

8
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Firms will have to report OWN diverted profits under 'Google Tax' law

Filippo

Can't work

This is not actually introducing any new rule on tax avoidance schemes. It's just saying that they have to report they're using a tax avoidance scheme. Which is pointless as long as the tax avoidance scheme itself remains legal.

3
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Boffins cure BONING PROBLEMS in 'virtual lab'

Filippo

Re: only....

Yeah. If you can't test on animals, then at some point you're going to have to expose a *person* to a substance to which *no* complex organism has ever been exposed before. This assertion holds true no matter how many or how good your simulations and in vitro experiments are. At some point, something has to be the first live test subject, and it's either an animal or a person.

I don't know if anti-experimentation campaigners don't understand this simple logic, or they understand it and honestly feel that monkeys are more important than people, or just don't think we should have any new drugs. Any of those prospects is worrisome.

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It's nearly 2015 – and your Windows PC can still be owned by a Visual Basic script

Filippo

unintended consequences

If software vendors were accountable for flaws in their software, then the main point is no longer how secure the software is, but who gets the liability.

What would happen if an important flaw was found and exploited in Android? Google makes it (based on Linux) but charges no license fee for it. If it turns out that the phone maker gets the liability, that would make a very compelling case for using Windows instead.

Heck, it would make creating a brand-new mass-marketed piece of software pretty much impossible for any startup. You cannot be absolutely certain that a piece of software doesn't have bugs, and if you're not a big corp, the first lawsuit will simply kill you. It doesn't even have to actually be your fault; people who misused the software will still sue you and before it's settled you'll be dead anyway.

Knowing that you're at risk of sudden death from circumstances beyond anyone's control, commercial customers will stay away from you. And if you make a mass-marketed device that runs OSS, and a single flaw is found and exploited in that OSS, you're similarly screwed; you can't get back at the OSS maker because they don't sell it. Better use Windows instead; lots more flaws, but I'm not paying for them.

Is that what you had in mind?

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Apple patents NEVERSMASH iPHONE for fumbling fondlers

Filippo

They could combine both the motor and compressed air methods to have the phone make a soft landing in a standing position whenever it's dropped. How hard can it be? I mean, it's not rocket sci... oh wait.

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By the Rivers of Babylon, where the Antikythera Mechanism laid down

Filippo

Re: Lost in translation?

Some information gets lost in translation, but the vast majority of information about truly ancient times got lost simply because it was never written anywhere. Writing has been costly and impractical for a long time. Of the stuff that was written, the vast majority got destroyed by time. Inscribing stone takes forever, so most things were written on much weaker media that won't last really long except in really favorable conditions. And even stone, if exposed to the weather, gets unreadable eventually. The ancient writings that we have are a vanishingly small fraction of what the ancients had.

Sad to say, but it could well be that either nobody ever wrote anything about the Antikythera mechanism, or everything that was ever written on it was destroyed long ago.

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Under the Iron Sea: YES, tech and science could SAVE the planet

Filippo

Re: Iron is not enough

That's kinda the point. We don't know if it would work without all the other microelements, and the guy who dumped it off BC is not really a scientific experiment. And we don't know if the results would be what we want anyway. We really, really need to run a few small-scale well-designed experiments - but we can't.

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Beyond the genome: YOU'VE BEEN DECODED, again

Filippo

Re: Most treatments have no need for either genomic or proteomic diagnostics

Genomic and proteomic knowledge can help with getting more information on an ailment. Exactly what strand of bacteria infest your lungs, and exactly what drugs will kill them fastest with the least side effects? That fall didn't look bad enough to break a leg, maybe you're developing osteoporosis? Do you have a genetic predisposition for alcoholism, and if so, maybe it's worth checking your kids too and tell them to stay away from the bottle?

On the therapy side, proteome knowledge can lead to better antibiotics and antivirals, which would help quite a lot with pneumonia. It can lead to drugs to treat osteoporosis - maybe even promote bone mending in otherwise healthy individuals. It can lead to psychoactive substances that can help with addiction.

1
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Mysterious BEAM outside London Googleplex ZAPPED

Filippo

Mysterious force in London

Doesn't roughly one Doctor Who episode out of three begin pretty much like this?

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Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years

Filippo

Re: Cars...

"For autonomous vehicles to work, there should be nothing on the road that can behave bizarrely."

Autonomous-only roads are simply not going to happen, not until after a long, long, *long* period of mixed autonomous/manual traffic. Autonomous vehicles that can blindly run over a kid that any human driver would have avoided are also not going to happen. So, I'd say instead that for autonomous vehicles to work, they need to be able to handle bizarre behaviours by other objects on the road.

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Sony SPILLS GUTS on OTT service, so far for PlayStations only

Filippo

Low bandwidth?

I already have a PS3, so the idea of not having to buy anything appeals to me. However, I get 250 KB/s top speed, and even that is fairly unreliable. I can't reliably stream anything at any reasonable resolution.

Nevertheless, I want to be able to choose, within the set of my favorite shows, what I want to watch, and watch it immediately. Given my bandwidth restrictions, this implies downloading or purchasing the media I'm interested in well in advance - at least a day, and frequently weeks.

If this service allows me to do that, I'll consider it. I can even accept DRM, including online DRM - I'd consider this a cached streaming, not a download, so I'm fine with not really owning the media, provided the price is appropriate. However, inability to fully cache lots and lots of content would be a showstopper for me.

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This Changes Everything? OH Naomi Klein, NO

Filippo

Re: About that self-professed rational liberalism

But he doesn't. He replied to you with some "lefty" concepts he also believes in, and in which a truly rabid free marketer doesn't, such as welfare, regulation of monopolies, and so on. That assertion is well substantiated by his other articles.

You can say that he's in contradiction (which is arguable, but nevermind), but not that those are the only things he believes in.

Also, the points in this article are solid regardless of what the author believes. The idea that forcing people to buy locally made panels would help solar power adoption rates is just plain nuts.

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RUMPY PUMPY: Bone says humans BONED Neanderthals 50,000 years B.C.

Filippo

Re: Pääbo.

Well, the two things are not completely exclusive. The definition of species as "can't interbreed" kinda breaks down a bit over very long time scales. When a species splits into two, it takes a very long time, during which things are not so clear. You can have some time during which two groups can interbreed, some time during which they can mate and usually produce fertile offspring, and some time during which they can mate and usually produce infertile offspring, before they get to the point where they definitely can't interbreed - and each of these stages can last hundreds of generations, and they may not even progress at the same rate across geographically distinct areas.

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Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'

Filippo

Re: Eric Raymond's (in)famous quote

I disagree with Raymond's quote. "Being direct" means telling what's wrong, why, and how to fix it. Insults *are* exactly the sort of bullshit Raymond claims they're cutting through. They suggest that someone is more concerned about feeling smug and superior than he is about solving problems.

People who *actually* want to solve problems stay technical. They don't get into pissing contests. They sure as hell don't actively try to bring the discussion to the emotional level. That's just about the last thing you should do if you want to solve problems.

We're humans, not robots; we have a hard time keeping a conversation strictly technical - but, at least, let's not kid ourselves about it by trying to argue that hacker bullshit smells nicer than HR bullshit, okay? It's all bullshit.

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One Windows? How does that work... and WTF is a Universal App?

Filippo

Trust

The problem of trust needs to be underlined more sharply, and more often. The current lifecycle of Microsoft frameworks is simply unacceptable, and it's starting to become a problem. Not everyone is making "apps" that are supposed to be maintained for three years tops before the public loses interest; some of us are making stuff that has an expected lifetime measured in decades.

Personally, I'm not even doing a "Hello World" in WinRT unless and until somebody is asking explicitly for it, and paying me for it. At the moment, I'd rather use HTML/JavaScript, which I absolutely loathe for a multitude of reasons, but which at least is pretty much certain to remain a first-class citizen for more than a few years.

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Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway

Filippo

1000 years for the media, how much for the reader?

It's kinda pointless to have a support that lasts 1000 years. You can reasonably prove that the support will last 1000 years, if stored properly.

But you certainly can't prove that the *readers* will still be around that far in the future; arguably, that's extremely unlikely. At some point, the economics of building them will fail. The cost to keep replacing them will climb steeply. Eventually, it will become cheaper to just copy all the data to a new "1000 years tech" - which will succumb to the same fate way before 1000 years have passed. And so on and so forth.

Basically, there's no way you can avoid having to migrate all the data every now and then. You can try to reduce the number of times you need to do so, but the reliability of the support is not the major factor for this (not beyond a few decades). The fact that these disks can be read using standard readers is probably much more useful than their 1000 years duration. But, arguably, you could use BRs, get pretty much the same result, and save a load of money.

0
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New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone

Filippo

Re: Well yes...

Yup. Being generous, it looks like 50 bucks per megabyte.

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This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...

Filippo

Poor model

I wish I could just install some other app instead of the one I want that requires so many permissions. But usually damn near every other app has the same problem, or just isn't as good as the original one.

What we need is the ability to install an app, run it, and grant or deny the permissions it requires individually, at the moment it requires them, with an option to remember the choice or not.

The fact that such a blindingly obvious and easily implemented improvement has not appeared yet tells me that the OS providers just don't want it.

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Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC

Filippo

Re: BBC Worldwide @AC

AC, you're missing the point. The "mechanisms to verify that the traffic is legitimate" *are themselves* a problem. Any such mechanism would involve at the very least some kind of inspection on your private tunnel. Doing that on a profile basis, i.e. on everyone who has a lot of VPN traffic, is completely unacceptable: the real world analogy would be, as Trevor describes, to stop and search every black man with baggy clothes.

It doesn't matter that you're found innocent after the inspection; *the inspection itself* is a violation of your rights. Overruling your right to privacy can be done, but it should require a court order, not "just because".

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IBM: OK, Watson, you've won Jeopardy. Now, CURE CANCER

Filippo

What Watson does is a fundamentally different type of "thinking" compared to what a human does; as a result, we can reasonably expect to miss a lot of things that a human would catch, but also to catch at least some things that a human would miss. That's where the value is.

The machine will sometimes make mistakes that are obvious to a human (like ignoring real-world knowledge that humans deem too self-evident to put in the paper), but humans sometimes make mistakes that are obvious to a machine (like overestimating the correctness of a paper that shows a result you desire). A human using a machine has a good chance of spotting both types.

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Crucial MX100 256GB SSD: Cut-throat competition in flash land

Filippo

It may not be top speed, but at that price/size ratio it's in a good position to get sold to some people who are still using HDDs, and for most common uses any SSD is going to feel vastly faster than nearly any HDD, simply because of no seek time.

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Greenpeace rejoices after getting huge renewable powerplant CANCELLED

Filippo

Re: Renewable is OK but...

Right, while burning fossils instead, which is what Chile will have to do now, is SO much better for nature.

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

Filippo

Re: Language skills?

I'm pretty sure the conversation was in English. Choosing a character for which English is not the primary language is probably a trick to plausibly invalidate language-based jokes.

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Rich bitch sorority girls actually more likely to put out than low-class 'sluts': Study

Filippo

semantics

Girl who sleeps around = open-minded

Girl who sleeps around, but not with you = slut

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It's Google's NO-WHEEL car. OMG... there aren't any BRAKES

Filippo

Re: 25mph (about 40kmph),

In lots of urban areas, if you could drive 40 kph reliably, but not more than that, you'd still be going about as fast as now or faster.

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Filippo

The bright eyed messianic ones eventually evolve into the gnarly old been-there-done-that-got-the-t-shirt ones.

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Tesla's TOP SECRET gigafactories: Lithium to power world's vehicles? Let's do the sums

Filippo

Re: SIlly

That's actually Tim's point. Lots of elements are not economic at the moment to extract and process at the concentration that they currently exist at, but there is no shortage of them.

If the low-hanging fruit runs out, you don't run out of fruit - you just buy a ladder, and sell the fruit for a little bit more. It's not the apocalypse if Li prices increase by a bunch; and it's not like they can increase indefinitely (at some point, you're better off recycling).

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128-bit crypto scheme allegedly cracked in two hours

Filippo

Re: Too smart for their own good?

There's little text in Indus Script, and none of it has a translation. Are you suggesting that a good encryption algorithm should only be used for a handful of messages in the whole world, and said messages should never get translated into cleartext?

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Why are Fujitsu and Toshiba growing lettuce in semiconductor plants?

Filippo

Re: Seems like there's a better cash crop...

There's probably less random arsenic in that air than in your house's. There's a reason they call them clean rooms.

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Customisation is BAD for the economy, say Oz productivity wonks

Filippo

Warning sign

Quote from the article, in turn quoting the paper:

---

Even worse, it's really difficult to come up with any way to measure the economic value of product quality: “the higher quality of some of the output produced with these additional inputs may not be fully reflected in the measures of real value added growth for the subsector”.

---

In other words, "I can't find a solid number for this, so I'll just ignore it".

Be wary, be very wary, of any paper, in any subject, where any variant of that concept is expressed.

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Filippo

Premise is correct, conclusion is completely wrong

Yes, providing exactly one model of anything maximises productivity.

The correct conclusion is: there is something seriously wrong with this definition of "productivity".

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