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* Posts by John Hawkins

107 posts • joined 7 Feb 2008

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Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)

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Big tech firms holding wages down? Marx was right all along, I tell ya!

John Hawkins

Shot feet

As another occasionally frothy mouthed free-market supporter, there's another issue with not paying the engineers (or 'workers') what they should have been paid. That money would have been used to buy shiny electronic things with (they are engineers after all) instead of ending up in Swiss bank accounts or being spent on over-priced art, wine or whatever.

People buying things keep the capitalist ball rolling; might upset a few environmentalists, but that's not what this discussion is about.

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Warming: 6°C unlikely, 2°C nearly certain

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

“Waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy,"

Great quote - sums up a lot of things, not only climate change. Might use it on a slide the next time I have to present a project plan.

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Congress plans to make computer crime law much, much worse

John Hawkins
Black Helicopters

Watch up for the Guv'mint

Bleeding 'eck - if I was living there I too would be worried about the federals and black helicopters. Probably would have a cellar full of tinned food and assault rifles as well.

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Researcher sets up illegal 420,000 node botnet for IPv4 internet map

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

Give the researcher a medal!

It's the no-hopers who've kept/set the passwords that should be prosecuted. Or at least hung from the ceiling using a thin Ethernet cable around sensitive parts until they promise to never ever ever use such a password again.

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Czechs check cheques, reject £680m 4G auction

John Hawkins
Headmaster

Swedish 3G contest

Locally (Sweden) we had a contest to see which 3G operators would give the best service before licences were granted. I remember a great deal of whining from one operator in particular that expected to be guaranteed a slot but didn't get it.

Coverage is still not what was promised by the winners, but I don't think anybody in the business is surprised about that. International operators tend to spread their costs over different countries anyway, so that is probably not the advantage for the locals as is sometimes made out either.

Though I do think that a contest is probably a better solution than an all-in auction; in either case reality is messier than the shiny Power Point slides shown in the various workshops and conferences leading up to any decision.

Finally, for those who haven't enough to do, there's a thesis available comparing the UK auction and the Swedish contest: http://www.managementheaven.com/comparison-swedish-3g-beauty-contest-uk-3g-auction/

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Era of the Pharaohs: Climate was HOTTER THAN NOW, without CO2

John Hawkins

Climate is changing...but it always has.

Which is pretty much what the paper seems to say. A particularly interesting sentence I found in the paper was the observation that "In contrast, the decadal mean global temperature of the early 20th century (1900 – 1909) was cooler than >95% of the Holocene distribution under both the Standard 5×5 and high-frequency corrected scenarios."

So we've gone to effing cold to relatively balmy in just a 100 years. Bring it on I say; 9 degrees Celsius below freezing this morning after some mild, sunny weather last week. Make the most of it before the next Ice Age rolls in.

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Report: Danish government hits Microsoft with $1bn tax bill

John Hawkins
Headmaster

Vikings?

Ha! Vikings in Scandinavia? The Vikings all beggared off southwards a thousand years ago - those left in Scandinavia are descended from the peasants, thralls and others who couldn't make the move. Even the British Isles had better weather back then, before the climate packed up.

Interesting story though; I can actually see the Danish coast from my office window and the story has been floating around the local papers for a few days now.

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Microsoft unwraps sysadmin-friendly Office 365 for biz update

John Hawkins

Bit like the licensing per head of yore...

I remember the stink that got kicked up when they went from licensing per user to licensing per device, once PCs got cheap and people started having one or more each rather than sharing.

One of my larger customers doesn't like the idea at least; because of shift work they have a more than a few thousand devices that are shared and will require multiple licences per device instead of just the one. Will be interesting to see how they react.

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We've slashed account hijackings by 99.7% - Google

John Hawkins

Two factor good - biometrics bad...

I've used the Google Authenticator for a couple of years now with various accounts (not all Google) and while it is a bit of a pain to set up on multiple devices, I'm happy with the solution. I have one of my phones with me nearly all the time, so there is no need for an extra token like the one I have for work access.

Biometrics on the other hand is something I remain deeply suspicious of - what happens when my 'password' is stolen and gets onto the internet? I haven't got an unlimited supply of fingers or irises etc that I can use as a replacement.

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LinkedIn proves not all social IPOs were bubbly

John Hawkins
Meh

Losing it...

But now they're losing it - endorsements, spam and other BS are turning me off LinkedIn. I've just removed all of my listed skills and pared my profile down to a bare minimum to limit the noise generated by it.

The original concept of a contact database still works - much better the the pile of business cards I used to have - but I can do without the creeping Facebook-envy that LinkedIn seems to have contracted.

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Tennessee bloke quits job over satanic wage slip

John Hawkins
Pint

Agree. Bound to upset a bean counter or two if they have to change a number.

He might be a nutter, but he should be entitled to be one if he wants. We could get into some circular (ish?) reasoning here by noting that by forcing the chap to use a standardised number, the wage system in question really is showing signs of becoming the Beast (or Skynet or EU or whatever).

Definitely a subject be discussed after an evening at the pub; more fun that way.

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Earth-like planets abound in red dwarf systems

John Hawkins
Boffin

Tidally locked?

I've a vague memory of reading that as the habitable zone around a red dwarf is relatively close in, any planets are likely to be tidally locked - like our moon is to the earth - and surface conditions rather harsh. Not exactly conducive to the development of higher life forms, though a higher life form with a sufficiently advanced technology might be able to survive by building settlements on the edge between the hot and the cold regions. Though they'd probably have to put up with some wild weather.

Presumably there are Reg readers who know a great deal more about these things than I do - does anyone have anything to add?

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Under cap-and-trade, flying is greener than taking the bus

John Hawkins
Facepalm

1980s?

Carbon trading is so 1980s - I remember a paper in 'Natural Resource Economics' I did back in those dark days and *everything* could be solved simply by putting a price on it and letting the Market do the rest. This was the ideal solution as the Market, as everyone knew back then, acted rationally and the various actors in the Market played by the rules.

Laughs hollowly then checks to see what our hard working and honest bankers are getting this year as their annual bonuses for services rendered to mankind...

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Spanish city renames square in Clash frontman's honour

John Hawkins

Re: Punk?

Guess I touched a bit of a nerve with that comment...not that I wanted to upset anybody else who appreciates good music. Punk for me is more New York Dolls, Sex Pistols, Ramones etc.; even though Clash formed in '76 and played punk, they also mixed in reggae, ska, rockabilly etc. and stepped outside of the genre.

Was upset when Strummer died, but that at least meant there was no risk of our memories of them being ruined by comeback attempts. Done is done.

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John Hawkins
Headmaster

Punk?

Always thought of the Clash as post-punk, but I guess the kids of today don't know the difference.

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2012 in tech: Apple up the Cook without a paddle, ARM, slab wars... and MORE

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

SSDD 2012

Guess we can look forward to more of the same in 2013. Should be fun to follow though, with El Reg topping the list of web rags I follow it on.

Guess also that the young 'uns of today are more likely to think of Peter Jackson and New Zealand when it comes to LOTR than JRR Tolkien and England.

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The amazing magical LED: Has it really been fifty years already?

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

LED lighting instead of fluorescent 'haz mat'

Currently throwing out (aka 'recycling') those awful low energy fluorescent lamps I replaced the even worse incandescent lamps with many years ago. I didn't realise how dangerous fluorescent lamps were until recent years.

I *like* the cooler, more natural white light of good LED lamps, much better than the sickly yellow light produced by incandescent lamps. Guess people just don't like daylight, preferring instead something that is basically an industrial artifact from a time when proper light wasn't practical.

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Canadians nab syrup rustlers after massive maple sap heist

John Hawkins
Facepalm

Wot? No references to the Lumberjack Song?

I must be getting old - first thing I thought of was the good Michael Palin singing the Lumberjack Song.

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Google gives fat fingers the flick before they click

John Hawkins

Just block the ads...

Root the device and install an ad blocker. Admittedly not for the average user, but it works.

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Acid oceans DISSOLVING sea life

John Hawkins
Boffin

They'll evolve

CO2 levels were quite a bit higher (4-8x or more) during the Cretaceous so presumably the oceans were acidic and yet large amounts of chalk and limestone were deposited. Some critters with shells obviously quite like their CO2 levels high.

Like legacy IT it is not quite as simple as management like to think, but unlike legacy IT the earth system is self-healing given a little time.

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Hacker sentenced to six years – WITH NO INTERNET

John Hawkins
Pint

Good old days?

It's a good chance for him to get involved with activities healthy young men in their late teens used to do like getting drunk, shagging, taking drugs, driving too fast in bombed out old cars and fighting.

Aaah, the good old days before Internet, Facebook and cellphones.

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Oldest town of the Old World found in Bulgaria

John Hawkins

'Walled community'?

Is that like a gated community or something? Guess they might have had a few problems with the visiting Northwestern Europeans outside the gates, dragging their knuckles and looking for cheap alcohol even then.

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Free Android apps often secretly make calls, use the camera

John Hawkins
Black Helicopters

Root your device and install 'Permissions Denied'

If you're worried about this sort of thing you can set permissions for each app using the app 'Permissions Denied'. I have.

Now I'll just return to cleaning my guns...

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New Zealand issues Hobbit money

John Hawkins

Re: ye gads

Guess the water they use for brewing is cleaner these days. Many decades ago we visited the local Tui brewery on a school trip and I noted that the river was pretty manky looking (must have been all that dairy effluent going into it) - I expect that gave the beer a bit of body. Though even at that time my Dad reckoned that Tui was a lot waterier than it had been.

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US trounces UK in climate scepticism jibber-jabber

John Hawkins

Re: Typing pool...

A couple of chaps at Duke University seem to think that solar is already on a par with nuclear:

http://www.ncwarn.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/NCW-SolarReport_final1.pdf

Quite a few interesting discoveries being made re solar and even if they're likely to be covered by patents, in the 15-25 years it takes to get a nuclear plant through the planning process and on line, solar will have moved on a few more generations (compare for example a bog standard PC of today with the flash graphics workstations the CAD people had 20 years ago).

Those of us living in the damp and foggy north might be a bit handicapped, but the majority of humankind are better off as far as sunshine is concerned.

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John Hawkins
Facepalm

Typing pool...

Wow, I'm a 'Type 3'.

Sooner or later solar energy will be cheaper than the fossil stuff given the rapid advances being made (solar is part of the semiconductor industry these days) and we can all go back to waiting for the next ice age.

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Swedish cops contain fermented herring menace

John Hawkins
Happy

Stinks a bit but is good eating

I normally keep mine in the fridge for a couple of years or so to mature, I've got four tins there at moment. A tin should be opened in a bucket of water to stop it spitting in your eye. And outside of course; opening tins of it inside building is for tourists and amateurs. Presumably it was one such person who was responsible for the alert in question.

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Curiosity clears things up

John Hawkins

Resolved?

Perhaps Curiosity didn't respond in time so the support ticket was closed automatically. Counts as 'resolved' these days.

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Zabulon Skipper: Butterfly harbinger of climate biodiversity DOOM?

John Hawkins
Trollface

Don't mention evolution...

'cause it might upset a Creationist.

Or something like that.

Evolution has knocked over the changes at the end of a whole series of ice ages during the Pleistocene (>100m rise in sea level, >10 degrees C in fits and starts over a few hundred to a couple of thousand years), so the potential is there at least. Unfortunately there's a few billion people in the way this time around so species might end up carking it anyway, in spite of the efforts of evolution.

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What happens when Facebook follows MySpace?

John Hawkins

Good old silver halide negs will still be readable in 50 years - USB? I doubt it.

I've got a couple of old 6x9 cm cameras I use to take a few pictures of the family with. A fiddle developing the rollfilm (I do it myself), but I figure in 40-odd years when they're cleaning out my stuff a shoebox full of big old negatives is going to be easier to deal with than a collection of thumb-drives etc.

I scanned a couple of dozen glass plates my wife's family had stashed away and they came up nicely; if I didn't have a scanner I'd have built a simple light box and used my DSLR.

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'Apple will coast, and then decelerate' says Forrester CEO

John Hawkins

Jobs could see over the horizon; Cook is a bean counter.

The two of them made (part of) a good team. Apple are likely to morph into a normal IT company with normal growth rates, but I don't see them fading away.

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Space probe in orbit above Mercury sees signs of polar ice

John Hawkins
WTF?

Had to check the date...

and, no, it wasn't the first of April.

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Tree-hugging Chinese throttle rare earth production

John Hawkins
Facepalm

So what?

They're just being good capitalists by maximising returns. Western countries would just give the stuff away at cost instead?

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Apple slide-to-unlock spat with Samsung hits the buffers

John Hawkins
WTF?

So what - Neonode had a slide-to-unlock long before Apple

US Pat. No. 8,095,879. Filing date Dec 10, 2002 and issue date Jan 10, 2012 it would seem.

Move along folks, just another meaningless feeding frenzy for lawyers.

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Mobile app privacy: You get what you pay for

John Hawkins
Big Brother

Privacy app?

Hmm - I'm not an Android developer so it might not be possible, but there looks to be an opportunity for something that blocks and/or monitors such things.

There might even be such things available already - time for a gander in the Android Market (sorry - 'Google Play'...) .

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Wireless operators to become less, er, wireless

John Hawkins
Facepalm

Heterogenous nets?

'Hetnets' is an awkward sort of an abbreviation; 'Heteronets' rolls off the tongue a bit better. Following that style 'Home Nets' would I guess give us 'Homonets', but I imagine that would be less likely to catch on.

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Global warming COULD SHRINK THE HUMAN RACE

John Hawkins
Boffin

Bergmann's rule

Ah well, nothing new here folks - Christian Bergmann noted back in 1847 that mammals tended to be smaller in warmer climates than than individuals of the same species in cooler climates:

"Über die Verhältnisse der Wärmeökonomie der Thiere zu ihrer Grösse".

This is in the long term and as the saying goes, in the long term we are all dead so the correct response here would be 'meh'.

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Google drive cloud to rain on Apple, Dropbox parade

John Hawkins

Offline?

If it can be synced for offline use like Dropbox et al. have - maybe. So far Google Apps offline isn't a lot to get excited about.

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Koala food may power US Defence force

John Hawkins
Alert

Dangerous stuff

Years (decades actually) ago when I worked in forestry they warned us that over about 30-odd degrees C the amount of euc oil in the air in a euc forestry stand was enough to made said air flammable. Contributes to the impressive bush fires they get in Australia.

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Saudi oil minister praises renewable energy

John Hawkins
Headmaster

Not as silly as it sounds...

Don't underestimate solar power; if it follows the same price/performance trajectory as the rest of the semiconductor industry things will happen quickly and we can forget fusion and thorium reactors etc. Even research is moving things along nicely - Xiaoyang Zhu at the University of Texas has for example recently identified a simpler way of capturing 'hot electrons' in silicon panels, raising the theoretical max efficiency to 66% (Zhu suggests 44% in practice).

Not quite there yet, but I expect the Chinese are already working on it - they need lots of clean energy and have plenty of desert plus the manufacturing capacity to build the stuff. Anything we do in Europe is just p*ssing in a river compared with what the Chinese are capable of.

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Antarctic ice formed at CO2 levels much higher than today's

John Hawkins
Boffin

CERN was behind it all

It was a neutrino from CERN that had gone back in time and caused local formation of dry ice, caused in part by high CO2 levels, that actually set off the formation of the Antarctic ice cap. This in turn caused the global cooling (because of the albedo effect on world climate), leading to the current ice-house climate.

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Scantily clad spambot vixens make blokes shun security

John Hawkins

Closing time

Stating the obvious I know, but anybody who's observed closing time at the local nightclub will have seen essentially the same kind of behaviour there. Though I guess the addition of quantities of alcohol to the mix means that 'female' and 'pulse' are the only entries on the requirement specification of some male individuals - 'attractive' being a somewhat flexible definition in that situation.

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Shale gas: If we've got it, flaunt it

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

Yes indeed; I'd second that. If them southerners get uppity we of the diaspora will dust off our ceremonial caps, braces and black puddings, and come to our ancestral homeland's defence.

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Nude lady recreates Star Wars tauntaun scene in dead horse

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

Lady Godiva eat your heart out...

Or perhaps the horse's heart as the case may be. Heck of a woman at least - don't see why people are going crook about about her.

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Facebook triple stuffs Swedish data center

John Hawkins

Make data centers, not railways...

One of the local Green Party leaders, Gustav Fridolin, has said that the 100 million Swedish crowns the project has received from the EU should have been spent on infrastructure - railways, housing etc - instead of the data center.

Can't say I particularly like Facebook - but iron and concrete instead of silicon? Is '19th century industrialist' the new green chic?

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Amphibious Nazi raccoons menace Sweden

John Hawkins

My rifle is loaded

D*mn right we don't want them here; I've got food and water in my cellar, plenty of ammo and a big shovel I can hit them with if I feel a need for gratuitous violence.

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Sunspot decline could mean decades of cold UK winters

John Hawkins
Boffin

Snow on a mole hill?

According to Frank Hill at the National Solar Observatory the effect will be limited. Guess we shouldn't be getting our hopes up.

"We are NOT predicting a mini-ice age. We are predicting the behavior of the solar cycle. In my opinion, it is a huge leap from that to an abrupt global cooling, since the connections between solar activity and climate are still very poorly understood. My understanding is that current calculations suggest only a 0.3 degree C decrease from a Maunder-like minimum, too small for an ice age."

http://www.nso.edu/press/SolarActivityDrop.html

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Blow to the head makes people feel good about religion

John Hawkins
Thumb Up

Could be something in it...

I don't generally bother with psychoholics and their ilk, but I did have a few weird years after a serious motorcycle accident (head-on collision, helmet split and I was away with the fairies for a few days) when I was 18. Fortunately I saw the light in the end and started working with IT.

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Apple iCloud: Steve Jobs' own private internet

John Hawkins

No support for legacy systems then?

Illustrates a major risk with the Cloud concept quite nicely - when a company decides that a given Cloud service isn't hip enough any more (MobileMe in this case) and pulls the plug, punters using said service being phased out are shafted.

In a data centres one can sometimes find decades old business critical systems doing quite nicely; in the Public Cloud, systems will need to be migrated whenever the Cloud owner decides it has had enough of the old platform.

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