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* Posts by Britt Johnston

533 posts • joined 11 Apr 2006

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Google purchases petite pollster Polar, purloined ppl punted Plus-wards

Britt Johnston
Alien

Re: youtube?

There is a second poll on the next page for antisocial network sites...you didn't find it?

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IT jargon is absolutely REAMED with sexual double-entendres

Britt Johnston

Pegging (3)

Pegging is also something the Scottish Central Bank can do to its currency, in contrast to the non-central banks, who will be speculating on the robustness of the peg.

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Like condoms, data now comes in big and HUGE sizes

Britt Johnston
Headmaster

not like condoms, like beer

Data is not-countable, and in this lingustic sense more like beer (data is, not data are).

If you insist on counting the stuff, you can put it in packets, as in gigabytes of data or pints of beer.

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Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?

Britt Johnston
Black Helicopters

the randomised controlled trial is still the gold standard in medicine?

The logical idea is to disentangle the effects of each of one or more interesting parameters.

Medics, on the one hand, are less scientific and more use-oriented. Doctors will switch regimes if the first one is unsatisfactory or, on occasion, try unproven drugs on an anecdotal report.

The trials are more scientific, more costly, and leave many parameters uninvestigated. That is why, for instance, cancer studies don't want to test for multiple co-medication, or relevant patient populations like children, women or over 65s.

'Gold' is the price of being scientific about evaluating new medicines. It has done well this last half century in checking for effiacy or reducing expected side-effects, and less well on quick access for serious diseases, cost reduction or finding underlying mechanisms.

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Australia's metadata debate is an utter shambles

Britt Johnston

Aussie awakening

The loss of privacy has arisen through a coming-together of commercial data collection and multiple government agencies looking to evaluate data for different security purposes.

Politicians were looking the other way, I don't worry that they look inexpert, they have catching up to do. I don't even mind that a leader has a potshot at journalists, or civil libertarians, as target practice. These agencies' PRs are telling their polititians that they are under threat, need the whitewash job, and that they deserve support.

But the sticks need sharpening for any security agencies - maybe there are none in Australia - who were using readily available techniques to help themselves beyond any reasonable scope, and now intend to stay unaccountable; the intellectual successors of F.Walsingham or the STASI, among others.

And then what's left of both parties should be going after any entity (any company with such a business model, but also botnets, hackers, pedophiles or journalists) who collects unsuitable data, in an unsuitable way, to the detriment of others. If they get that far in Australia, I'd count that as a success worth following in other lands.

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Report: UK.gov wants to legislate on comms data BEFORE next election

Britt Johnston
Big Brother

Think before you jump

It would be better if there was a clear accepted concept of what is to be achieved, before proceeding to legislation. Otherwise the EU judges will take them apart again.

Current concept:

We accept that GCHQ has full coverage, because they are above the law.

So we syphon everything to GCHQ (US Branch) within the first few days.

They provide to police as needed, as long as it suits GCHQ and friends (filter out plants, etc).

No duplication, no data loss, no ISP inconvenience, but not admissible as evidence.

Amended concept

We make data available to police as needed.

They make it available to GCHQ and friends above the law (warn plants, etc) within the frozen period.

After, they can still make it available to police as requested.

No duplication, no data loss, no ISP inconvenience, frozen records admissible as evidence.

Both concepts assume that the police and the secret services work well together, to avoid data gaps and save money.

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Titan sprouts 'Magic Island', say astroboffins

Britt Johnston
Alien

how can an island just appear?

The black sea is receding - an oil spill, washed off by methane rain??

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Piketty thinks the 1% should cough up 80%. Discuss

Britt Johnston

deja vu

80% tax for the rich is so France 2012, I think Hollande's aides must have read the book.

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

Britt Johnston
Trollface

Re: you have to heat it quite a lot before it starts to work?

If there is enough global warming, this problem will diminish.

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HP reveals Apple-powered Android 'SlateBook'

Britt Johnston

Re: 2 options please

<<One with Beats, and one without...>>

I have a 2012 non-beats HP, which also has bad laptop speakers. However,when porting the sound through a sound card to decent speakers, it was poorer than the comparison Acer. Somewhere between CPU and USB output, the signal is being degraded.

But it is fine as a backup PC, which is what I bought it for.

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From production to development databases (and back again)

Britt Johnston

other reasons to replicate a database include...

We requested a duplicate of a production database as a read-only version for interfacing (this was 1996, pre-virtual servers). It worked fine, was easy to replicate daily and reduced performance problems for input.

More commonly, a lot of applications request a training version.They get wiped occasionally, can be used for integration testing, or can restore an input scenario before each course.

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Britt Johnston

pipe dreams (most likely first)

- An app that melds a TV zapper and a mobile phone

- A luxury mobile with a built-in scalable LED beamer

- A phone with a usb or thunderbolt cable that does fast charging from PC and bidirectional data load

- An electric car with a built-in phone - I won't drive it anywhere, but might get 2 weeks of battery life

- More of the same cars for the family, to plug into our wind generator and act as a storage buffer for the household

- A small solar-driven desalination plant for that uninhabited rock in the mediterranean

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Achtung! Use maths to smash the German tank problem – and your rival

Britt Johnston

Each domain is relevant

This used to be a big question in the mainframe age.

I maintained material numbers between 100000 - 153000, of which those below 125000 were migrated from two 20th C. systems.

Then a new application split the materials by type and gave each a domain - from 700000 for sales products, 800000 for raw materials, 600000 for manufactured parts, etc., keeping the old "mixed" ones as legacy.

An external customer sees numbers from 100000 to 730000 on his shipping papers, and has less overview of what is going on.

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IBM accidentally invents new class of polymers

Britt Johnston
Thumb Up

reversable thermosetting

Thermosetting polymers are cheap and strong, but one of their disadvantages is that they cannot be reused. You have to throw them away or grind them up.

So one which can be separated to its original components in strong acid could be really handy.

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EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?

Britt Johnston
Mushroom

good old leadership

In the good old days, leaders said "don't do that or I have it cut off".

Now they have to do their own programming?

No wonder nobody wants to be emperor of Europe.

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5 Eyes in the Sky: The TRUTH about Flight MH370 and SPOOKSATS

Britt Johnston
Unhappy

The truth might be that all this investment in security could be put to better use

The security aspects could be improved - don't sell aircraft to foreigners, have everyone carry a gps beacon, ban air travel and donkeys, twitter, whatever,....

But the main topic has been the unfortunate accident, and the security hardware isn't giving answers, because it is not set up to answer this useful set of questions, even when it has a security aspect.

I saw a depressing interview today where some parochial Washinton correspondent was discussing with top experts how to make all radar track to American standards and ensure that transponder switches be locked away from pilot's fingers. It made me feel not just that US security is an expensive irrelevance, but that if their view prevails, security may be incompatible with safety, or humanity.

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PAF! MPs go postal over postal location data sell-off by Coalition.gov

Britt Johnston
Angel

Re: Ownership matters, in both England and Switzerland

I should have mentioned that the codes come from the Swiss post office, since I live in Switzerland. But the response shows that ownership confusion exists internationally.

I'm afraid it is the same confusion as that entangled with the political mantra of taxation, the German proverb "what is mine, is mine, and what is yours is also mine". And also to the comments referring to the sale of BT.

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Britt Johnston
Facepalm

Ownership matters

I live in a district where the postcodes don't exactly match the district council boundaries, which became a problem when our housing estate was built, thirty years ago. The post delivers in our corner from a different, nearer, post office than to the rest of the district.

Unfortunately, the district council believes they own the postcodes, and wish to assign the main post code to the whole district. To enforce this, they always deliver all their mail with their assigned post code.

The post office, knowing it to be incorrect, changes it manually, and puts it on a slow delivery pile, to encourage mail senders to use the correct code. So an official mail from the district council takes a week to deliver from 3 miles away.

My data management skills have given me insight into the cause of the delays, but are not sufficient to persuade the two institutions to stop deliberately misunderstanding each other. I am reduced to calling them names. After 30 years, I am running out of names, and would welcome suggestions.

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That NSA denial in full: As of right now, we're not pretending to be Facebook or Twitter

Britt Johnston
Angel

A quick fix for non-US firms

Hire americans to beef up your security.

Surely the NSA wouldn't hack their mails?

US Immigration has a list of US citizens living abroad.

Should NSA want it, GCHQ has access.

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Blurred lines: Android e-ink mobe claims TWO-WEEK battery life

Britt Johnston
Unhappy

Re: older generation, scaled fonts and e-ink

Trouble is, if you scale up a font, each letter takes up more of the screen - so even a 7inch Kindle is too small, and a 4 inch phone induces logoclaustrophobia, in people of all ages. I'd be interested in a 10inch netbook version, though.

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UK man Lauri Love accused of hacking US Federal Reserve

Britt Johnston
Unhappy

wild west web

So the laws are draconian and internationally incompatible, the nominated control agencies toothless: the ones with teeth are outside the law, antisocial and ransacking the world's data to collect porn or anything else from everyone, rather than addressing any pressing issues. The active citizens are at best asocial nosies, others are ripping off all and sundry, businesses and private persons alike.

This is not what is I had in mind with the terms net neutrality, or balance of powers.

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Hey, IT department! Sick of vendor shaftings? Why not DO IT, yourself

Britt Johnston
Meh

Re: Not sure where you work...

In our large pharmaceutical company, the home-grown applications have been systematically replaced over the last 25 years by configuable standards, the residual home-grown applications will have disappeared in the next few years. When they go, the get replaced with some standard with reduced functionality, some were even sold to external IT specialists to turn them into "standards".

The driving force is the need for full, up-to-date documentation and control of changes.

The creative programmers who stayed either moved to the internet side, or became business analysts joining extracts (mostly in excel).

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Mathematicians spark debate with 13 GB proof for Erdős problem

Britt Johnston

The answer isn't 42?

This is the sort of corollary that comes out of the full proof.

For every infinite string it is possible to define a finite substring with a discrepancy of any size.

If the discrepancy is 42, you know you have found a substring which fits the problems of the Adams universe.

I'd suggest, if it isn't, and you still have a problem, that you try a substring of different size if the discrepancy is positive, and use a different pattern if it goes in the wrong direction or is near-zero.

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Coffee a memory enhancing drug, say boffins

Britt Johnston
Thumb Up

Re: Short term or long term?

It is about more reliable transfer of information from short-term memory into long-term memory.

So if you had a tough meeting, and you want to write it all up while it's fresh, a coffee after the meeting should help with the recall.

Interestingly, the study write-up appears in Google under Healthcare, not under Science.

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Pinterest who? EU rules social network CAN'T trademark its own name

Britt Johnston
Unhappy

TRADEMARKING YOUR OWN NAME IS A BAD IDEA

If your firm goes bankrupt, your reputation suffers. Worse, if you are successful, you get bought out and lose control of your own name.

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Coming in 2014: Scary super-soldier exoskeleton suits from the US military

Britt Johnston
Trollface

Re: all that money on doing nice things for people

Finally, the military get some payback for all the effort they have put into prosthetics.

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New inkjet printer spits out cheap OLED monitors better than your inkjet prints letters

Britt Johnston
Happy

Driver worries ?

<<Imagine reinstalling the drivers for THAT>>

I thought this type of heavy engineering usually has a c64 as a controller, and home grown code.

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You can't have that many! China scuppers US, EU tech tariff talks

Britt Johnston
Headmaster

how high is high enough??

<<In a high-level meeting..., Beijing’s negotiators said they have zero mandate ...>>

That would be a low-level meeting, then.

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WHO ate all the PIs? Sales of Brit mini-puter pass 2 MEELLION

Britt Johnston
Go

where are all the Pies?

Sales in Germany, Holland and environs are going well.

As proof, 1278 results today on searching for Raspberry Pi in ebay.de.

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XBOX One SHOT DEAD by Redmond following delivery blunder

Britt Johnston
Flame

customer or sucker?

Like I could buy a 2014 Ferarri, but leave it in the garage until new year, for fear the car-maker enables the anti-thief lock-down system?

As a non-console owner, the only decent way I see to deal with an out-of-control supply-chain is to welcome your customer early, and explain that he may have to wait a few weeks for full enjoyment of the product.

What is twisted is that commenters expect this kind of user welcome to be the norm in the console area.

Maybe the Steam people will be a bit better?

Maybe this points to the end-game with DRM products. You just sell a sexy-looking empty box, because that is the cheapest way to achieve zero functionality.

Or maybe Microsoft would like to treat all its users like this?

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The importance of complexity

Britt Johnston
Boffin

Algorithms are well-behaved

In our company, most of the complexity comes from the organisation and the users.

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Obama to Merkel: No Americans are listening to you on this call

Britt Johnston

The Core of the Special Relationship

is that neither British Statesmen nor USA ones are accusing each other of phone-tapping.

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UK's tech capital named: Read it and weep, Tech City startup hipsters

Britt Johnston
Pint

Pub culture

From the comments, you could raise the efficiency of this scheme by leaving out the hi-tech support, and just subsidising the pubs.

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Microsoft comes through on Oracle cloud partnership

Britt Johnston
Childcatcher

this is bad

I was counting on Oracle buying some patent jam - have to sell off my shares in Blackberry, quick

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One year to go: Can Scotland really declare gov IT independence?

Britt Johnston
Devil

Independance from Britain..

may get much easier, when Britain decides to leave EU.Then Scotland could apply to become Very West Germany, for instance, join Schengen, Tax intra-day trading, and generally behave like responsible Europeans.

This could easily come about before Scotland even have a timetable for their referendum.

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China's lifting of internet blockade denied by state media

Britt Johnston
Megaphone

no inter in our net

The proper place to discuss sensitive issues like politics, religion or Justin Bieber is Youtube.

However I sent a link to a self-arranged, self-performed folk song, non-pornographic, to a Chinese colleague leaving our company. She could not access Youtube. The only success was to translate into Chinese in Google translator. What a waste of time, and a diverse&cultural loss.

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How do you choose your vendors?

Britt Johnston

previous sale?

Important for our large company is whether they have been previous suppliers within the company.If yes,

- they understand our (strange) terms and conditions,

- we can find out if they are helpful,

- we get a feeling of if they will take it in the chin, for the sake of a longer-term connection

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Amazon to offer FREE smartphone?

Britt Johnston
IT Angle

shrinking the $200 bill

Why not give away cheap phones (or watches) and tether them to the kindle?

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The REAL winner of Microsoft's Nokia buy: GOOGLE

Britt Johnston
Coat

sitting on a cash pile...

is probably quite comfortable, unless there's too much change.

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Yahoo! Comes! Clean! On! Global! Government! Data! Requests!

Britt Johnston
Pirate

act local

Sounds proportionate, since YAHOO! has mostly US users.

Can we have one on behind a European firewall please?

You can call it EUHOO! if you want.

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Canadian comet impact fingered for triggering prehistoric climate shift

Britt Johnston

Babies in the Bathwater

The last melting, about 6000 BC cut off the Continent from England, the Thames from the Rhine, and caused Noah's flood as the Med broke through to the Black sea.

The boffins admit that their dating isn't exact to the day, though, and the increase in sea level is also unclear (0.8-2.8 m). It is also frustrating that the documentation was poor, as the events are so close to the start of history.

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NSA: NOBODY could stop Snowden – he was A SYSADMIN

Britt Johnston
Trollface

Re: Obama deserved the peace prize...

for displacing G.W.Bush, the first American President to start two wars and finish none.

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Happy birthday MIDI 1.0: Slave to the rhythm

Britt Johnston

MIDI can now do lyrics

I don't know if all MIDI editors do the same, but I've had files from one MIDI with lyrics come out into an unrelated notation programme. I saw it first quite recently, less than 10 years old.

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Steelie Neelie: One cloud contract model to rule them all

Britt Johnston
Alien

whisper of reason

The main cause is that there ARE contracts: it saves providers the trouble of behaving. They became necessary for phones because providers handed out phones for free - bad idea - and needed to recoup the up-front loss. Contracts are not necessary today, you can buy non-tied phones and services.

There is no need for ties, the inconvenience of switching data to another provider should be sufficient to accept switching without restriction as the normal model for data. And no ties means they might listen a bit to their customers.

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Britt Johnston
Angel

Re: The road to hell's paved with good intentions

There may be many roads leading to Hell. But the main highway is the one constructed of bad intentions.

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Report: IBM protests Amazon $600m CIA cloud contract

Britt Johnston
Childcatcher

while we are bashing companies...

why would the CIA want to use a notorious tax minimizer like Amazon?

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Facebook teens' kimonos - basically never closed

Britt Johnston
Thumb Up

Like, like

"the hundreds of times they used the word "like" in their sentences."

Facebook and like are oxymoronic, aren't they?

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The Metro experiment is dead: Time to unleash Windows Phone+

Britt Johnston
Unhappy

Windows 8 is good for something

The initial screen warns every customer without a touch sensitive screen that Microsoft doesn't care about customers. Not enough to even give you an XP-retro option, and certainly not enough to design features to help you.

My question for 2015 is, who can come up with a one-button solution on a USB3 stick to overwrite my outdated Win7.

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Master Beats: Why doesn't audio quality matter these days?

Britt Johnston
Happy

good sound is possible

As commenters like peter gathercole mention, quality of sound has been a problem since Edison. But I'm happy with my current sound from my laptops, and use these in preference to mobile devices. The laptop signal feeds to a USB soundcard, and from here into the AUX channel of a bedsit Hifi.

- so yes, tinny laptop speakers are the worst problem

- the two laptops differ in signal: an Acer being noticeably better than a non-Beats HP

- I do attach sound-compensating headphones, to filter out house noise and let others sleep, but they would be unsafe in traffic.

- Youtube is interesting, also because of the range in quality of uploaded music - a valuable discipline of its own, as previous comments have mentioned.

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Dark matter researchers think they've got a signal

Britt Johnston

Re: Compelling reasons for reviving the ether

It IS the ether, we are just arguing about its weight and pervasiveness.

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