* Posts by Filippo

564 posts • joined 24 Nov 2007

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Mozilla testing very private browsing mode

Filippo

Re: Back to the Future: Ads without tracking

Yeah. Let's not forget that this isn't about killing advertisers; it's simply about not giving them my entire profile. They won't go out of business just because they can't know exactly what kind of porn I'm viewing. Especially if the changes affect all advertisers equally.

5
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Hurrah! Windfarms produce whopping ONE PER CENT of EU energy

Filippo

Re: U.K. National Grid Status

That "electricity only" is a HUGE thing. You can't handwave it. That's the whole point of the article.

1
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Robot surgeons kill 144 patients, hurt 1,391, malfunction 8,061 times

Filippo

It doesn't have to be perfect. It has to be better than humans.

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Asimov's ghost! Oil and gas rigs could be taken over by robots

Filippo

The first thing I thought was - Total thinks that the best way to remotely read a pressure meter is to build a robot and have it walk there to look at it? Are they insane?

3
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Mathematician: SUNSPOT DROUGHT will mean mini ICE AGE from 2030

Filippo

Re: This good be good news or bad news.....

Uranium comes from bad countries too, but the fuel is only a small fraction of the cost of nuclear power. We'd be giving bad suppliers far, *far* less money, compared to using fossils. And newer designs use thorium which is a lot easier to find.

Also, solar panels are made in China. Just saying.

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WHAT ARE the 'WEIRD' SPOTS seen on far-flung PLUTO?

Filippo

Fungi from Yuggoth should be a safe assumption.

2
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Behold the mighty Swiss SPACE JUNK NOSHER PODULE

Filippo

"It only takes one error in the calculation of the approach for SwissCube to bounce off CleanSpace One and rocket out into space."

Which, if the point is cleanup, would be a success, right? Come to think about it, rather than destroying a large and costly satellite to clean up a single small and cheap one, wouldn't it be easier to just give the space junk a nudge so it ends up in a decaying orbit?

2
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Apple's Swift creeps up dev language survey – but it's bad news for VB

Filippo

Amen to that. These days, the only place where I still see extensive use of VB is industrial automation... which makes me weep every time.

2
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Crowdfunded beg-a-thon to bail out Greece raises 0.003% of target

Filippo

Re: Defaulting on loans hasn't hurt Iceland ...

Iceland's situation was completely different. They didn't have systemic corruption, widespread fiscal evasion, and insane retirement policies. They had a problem with excessively large banks, which was fixed - although painfully - by letting them default and go bust.

Greece defaulting (or getting lent more money for free, or leaving the Euro, or any combination of the three), on the other hand, doesn't really seem to be a fix for any of their actual problems.

5
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Giant FLYING SPACE ROCKS could KILL US ALL, warns Brian May

Filippo

Re: @ AbelSoul - So.

Well, they're warnings. The whole point of warnings is to stress people. If you give warnings and people still feel pretty relaxed about whatever it is you're warning about, then the warning is not really going to be effective. If the theater is on fire, you don't whisper "fire" once; you shout it and you keep shouting it until everyone is out.

Of course, it's debatable whether asteroid strikes are worth getting stressed about. It's true that humanity has been around for a while and haven't gone extinct due to asteroids; most asteroids are not an existential risk.

However, I'd argue that there's a wide, wide gap between "extinction" and "not a problem". If the Tunguska asteroid had hit a densely populated area, humanity as a species would have been fine, but the damage and loss of life would have been staggering. That kind of event could be effectively mitigated with proper asteroid tracking. You don't even need to be able to get rid of the rock; having a few years' warning to evacuate would already be a huge benefit.

5
2

Robo-car wars: Delphi's near crash, prang, wallop with Google DENIED!

Filippo

It was a poor idea for the Delphi exec to diss Google about the non-crash. At the current point, both Google and Delphi and anyone else who's into self-driving cars should prioritize making the public feel safe about the whole concept.

2
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As the US realises it's been PWNED, when will OPM heads roll?

Filippo

Re: Ha

Yeah, I'm really looking forward to intelligence services working as a free market. Can't see what could go wrong with that.

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Will a datacentre be driving your car in 12 years' time?

Filippo

Not worried about system failures. Not worried about software bugs. Not worried about data centre outages. Not worried about ethics decisions.

Worried about the people who get a driving license, live in and around some major urban center for 10 years, all the time the auto-driving working perfectly, and then decide to take a holiday in the mountains - and, when the signal goes out, suddenly have to remember how to actually drive manually.

8
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Pint-sized PCIe powerhouse: Intel NUC5i5RYK

Filippo

Re: Noise?

The reviewed PC does have a fan, though. I don't think it would run reliably without.

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Filippo

Noise?

Anyone knows of something fanless that can run Windows? I'm using an eBox at the moment, but it takes eIDE drives and I can't find an SSD in that form. Taking out the spinning rust would finally make it truly silent.

0
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Windows Phone is like religion – it gets people when they are down

Filippo

Re: So...

It looks like neither you nor those IT managers you know have any idea of what you're talking about. Nasties that target good old Windows desktop won't work on Windows Phone any more than they'd work on an iPhone. Hell, if the reasoning is "ban the most common platform because everyone will target it", the obvious choice would be Android. How many people run Android apps from outside the Play Store, compared to people who run Modern apps from outside the Windows Store? Are there even any people at all who do that?

8
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So what are you doing about your legacy MS 16-bit applications?

Filippo

Obviously, I'm going to keep running them on 486s running WinNT 3.1. What could possibly go wrong?

0
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JavaScript creator Eich's latest project: KILL JAVASCRIPT

Filippo

solving the wrong problems

I'm looking forward to the day when the latest WebAssembly version will be 4.0, but 85% of browsers only support up to 3.0, 40% only support up to 2.0, 10% support only 1.0, 35% have dropped support for anything below 3.0 due to security issues, and the boss wants me to use a library that only works reliably on versions 2.0 or 3.0 because 4.0 has changed an opcode. Meanwhile, telling a div to occupy all remaining screen space will still require hours of swearing.

Seriously, the JS syntax is frequently annoying, but it's really not the major problem with the web, not by a long shot.

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Sex disease surge in US state partly blamed on hook-up apps

Filippo

Whoa. This means that those apps actually work.

1
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Why voice and apps sometimes don't beat an old-fashioned knob

Filippo

Re: Strange complaint

Thinking the same thing. I also don't like the idea of IoT much, but if the author apparently has problems with the notion of using a gesture to get out of fullscreen mode, it does make the rest of his points that bit more suspicious.

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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.

2
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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...!"

4
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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?

1
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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.

25
1

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.

9
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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? ;-)

4
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Israeli boffins hack air gap, fire missiles on compromised kit

Filippo

Re: Why not use audio

...exfoliation?

3
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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.

8
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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.

1
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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.

0
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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.

3
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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.

2
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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.

25
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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.

6
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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?

5
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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.

4
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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.

4
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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.

7
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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?

12
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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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