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* Posts by Nick Ryan

1380 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

Traffic lights, fridges and how they've all got it in for us

Nick Ryan
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On the fridge example above, while I agree that in general the simpler something is the better, it doesn't mean that things can't be enhanced. For example, the temperature of the fridge could be monitored allowing an alert to be generated if the temperature goes outside defined limits for a period of time, for example when a toddler (or drunken / sleepy adult) merrily raids the fridge and leaves the door open, the cooling unit fails or some other miscellaneous and annoying problem that'll ruin your morning when you find the milk is off. Hell, just the opening of the fridge between certain hours could raise an alarm if you really want to stop midnight fridge raids. A little more sophisticated could be humidity sensors, where if something leaks a similar alarm could be raised. These are just a couple of simple enhancements to a basic fridge, nothing complicated, nothing that can't be easily implemented right now.

Much of the IoT press is just marketing fluff and noise, but there are useful things to be had from it all.

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Russian gov to dump x86, bake own 64-bit ARM chips - reports

Nick Ryan
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Re: CPU the only risk?

Exactly, the CPU itself is very unlikely to have backdoors or anything specific in it. Exploits or backdoors are going to be be in the supporting services that surround the CPU, the support chipset: the OS and the OS's device drivers.

By its basic nature, the OS that runs a system requires full access to the CPU, including all operation levels and all metrics and support. There is no point in a "super-duper-secret-access-mode" function in a CPU, this level of access can be performed using normal operations. Access to more privileged operation levels in a CPU is managed by the OS.

The support chipset, on the other hand, will have direct memory access to the entire system outside of the scope of the OS, will be able to send and receive network packets without the OS ever knowing that anything is amiss - this kind of communication will be undetectable inside the system itself, however observable outside through packet monitoring.

Device drivers also tend to have enhanced access to the system, including DMA access and direct access to hardware. At this level they are more readily monitored and the source code can be decompiled and assessed for potentially unwanted behaviour. Depending on how well written the driver code is, the OS is likely to be unaware of unwanted behaviour in the driver, these are trusted components.

The OS itself can easily have backdoors and access code in it. This is more readily detectable as the executable code can be decompiled and assessed for potentially unwanted behaviour, however if written well it should be relatively easy to mask as the OS provides this functionality.

The applications on top of the OS are even more likely to have back doors, access code or just exploitable through programming defects.

In the end the most likely source of leaks is the bag'o'flesh in front of the device. Many will happily sell their passwords for chocolates, use easily guessable passwords or just email or print and lose important information.

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Surprise Android 'KitKat' update fixes nasty OpenSSL vuln

Nick Ryan
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Re: I have a samsung s3 mini

Does this not work? http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Unofficial_Ports#Samsung_Galaxy_S_III_Mini_.28GT-I8190.29.

Or linked through there, http://novafusion.pl/

(I don't have anything to do with these packages)

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Yes. App that lets you say 'Yo' raises 1 MEEELLION DOLLARS

Nick Ryan
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Re: Yo 'tards

Great film. However it's feeling more and more like an accurate prediction than just a movie...

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Amazon's not-actually-3D Fire: Bezos' cash register in YOUR pocket

Nick Ryan
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...or for ChromeCast.

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DANGER MOUSE is back ... and he isn't half a GLASSHOLE

Nick Ryan
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I've wondered that with the pull along rotary dial phones... young children are unlikely to ever see such a device outside of old movies and museums yet they still produce new pull along rotary phones. Somehow my daughter even learnt to pick up the phone handset and talk to it. She's also glued to a more current phone toy model and learnt to mug adults for their touch phones at an early age.

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Sneak peek: Microsoft's next browser (thanks, IE Developer Channel)

Nick Ryan
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Good. Especially making sure to include the enhanced developer tools in the same stream.

This type of pre-release makes a lot sense and reduces the pain of having to rush to check a released version against your work at around the same time that world+dog is already using it.

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Missiles-on-rooftops Brit spy Farr: UK gov can slurp your Facebook, Twitter ... What of it?

Nick Ryan
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Re: Where are the Register's servers located?

I was thinking this Brazil :)

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Internet cf. postcards

I assure you that the encryption involved in some postcards would be enough to baffle most government agencies.

At least that's the impression I get whenever I get a postcard from my parents. So far I've managed to decrypt 50% of the one I received last week.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Where are the Register's servers located?

Don't worry, you should be safe mentioning "plans for the revolution" as long as there's no related mention of Al-Qaeda, The Terrorists Cookbook or other subversive material such as "The Little Book of Common Sense", 1984, or indeed any mention of Brazil.

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WORLD CUP SHOCK: England declared winner in 2-1 defeat to Italy

Nick Ryan
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Re: Football or soccer

Technically, Association Football.

It's generally septics that call it 'soccer' to differentiate it between their local sport of rugby in armour... where the ball very rarely comes into contact with a foot.

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British boffin tells Obama's science advisor: You're wrong on climate change

Nick Ryan
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Global Warming?

[Sigh] Whoever initially used the phrase Global Warming and prominent public figures who repeat this do a lot of damage to the environmental cause.

The considered term is Climate Change. This is where humans are proven to be polluting the environment and through this there is proven disruption to environmental processes, both local and wider. The exact impact of the disruption to these environmental processes is the main contentious issue: some of these are relatively trivial or have a narrow impact, some while having been disrupted are replaced by other process and some of them are more immediately obvious when disrupted such as the hole in the ozone layer. The difficulty is that there are a huge number of of environmental processes, many of which are interlinked somehow, many are hidden or obscured by others and this makes it incredibly difficult to make predictions of what may happen when one or more fails or is disrupted. Therefore the considered acknowledgement is that while we are proven to be damaging the environment, we don't know exactly what will happen but there will be changes and if we don't stop damaging the environment then the predictability and potential severity of these is statistically likely to be more serious.

It is not impossible that the processes could be disrupted in a manner that could lead to Global Cooling, not Hollywood action-movie style, but it could be as disruptive as Global Warming because it would affect precipitation which would have a catastrophic effect on food crops and the distribution of fresh water.

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NASA uses new technique to snap high-res asteroid images

Nick Ryan
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Re: “30 times brighter than what Goldstone can produce observing on its own”.

I guess if more radar (EM) waves are observed then "brighter" would be an adequate term for the amount of EM radiation received: the only difference between what we consider "light" and radar is the frequency.

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BOFH: On the contrary, we LOVE rebranding here at the IT dept

Nick Ryan
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Re: Time to rebrand HR....

Genius.

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Nick Ryan
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Oh dear, reminds me of the farcical time in a previous company where a department's self serving nutjob decided to rebrand the company's "admin" team as "Central Services", then assigning titles such as "central services executive". This resulted in two things:

1) The girls in the office having to explain to potential new employers, friends and so on that they considered the job title was really "admin assistant" and having to put this on their CVs to make it clear.

2) The IT support manager renamed his department "Essential Services". No electricity, network or computers? No administration... :)

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Psst. We've got 400Gb/s Ethernet working - but don't tell anyone

Nick Ryan
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Re: Reg's standard for this?

upvote for "Giggidybits" genius

Agreed. It would make a sterling addition to the El Reg standard units.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Entire article fails to mention the other factor...

Distance

Please restate your question using proper and correct measurements. It makes a lot more sense in Linguine.

For your reference and correctional education: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/24/vulture_central_standards/ or for the slide rule shy (*): http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/page/reg-standards-converter.html

* I'll be buggered if I know how to use a slide rule either.

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PICS ON GROUND: Cabbies PARALYZE London in Uber rebellion

Nick Ryan
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Sympathy?

Yep, they've generated just as sympathy much as the tube drivers who are already paid more than most people for sitting in their cabin, pushing buttons and occasionally ranting at the paying passengers. The same tube drivers who decided that on top of their ordinary and extraordinary overtime they would also need further extra money during the olympics because, err, honestly: the excuse was so wafer thin I can't even recall it now.

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I am NOT a PC repair man. I will NOT get your iPad working

Nick Ryan
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Re: IT and conferencing

My solution to the presentation problem was to fit a dedicated PC, configured and locked down to the resolution of the projector. Audio went through dedicated speakers, all connectors were screwed in place.

Users could either access their presentation across the network or plug in a USB stick, which is usually daft when they've saved the presentation to a network location, and with non-embedded embedded content always causes fun and games.

I still had some users busily unscrewing everything in order to present a high resolution (aka stupidly large amounts of small text) presentation using a low resolution laptop. They could have configured a secondary display with the correct resolution, or even aspect ratio, but then they wouldn't have been able to see the presentation on the small screen at the same time. Staring at which defeated the entire concept behind delivering a presentation in the first place, which is to present, not to sit there mumbling at a laptop keyboard. To make it worse, I even had a dedicated external connector which users who couldn't understand that they could use a dedicated PC for the task, or were external visitors, could use... but this didn't stop the attempted disassembly of the main system at times.

All this and there's still the point that's most often forgotten: PowerPoint is not a presentation; PowerPoint is merely a tool that allows you to enhance a presentation. [but frequently used to kill one]

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'CAPTAIN CYBORG': The wild-eyed prof behind 'machines have become human' claims

Nick Ryan
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I "dodged" that one as well... specifically the cybernetics course at Reading. In the end I avoided AI as much as I could because I quickly considered that none of what was being taught as AI was in fact AI: at best it was Logical Reasoning.

As for Professor Warwick, I consider that he's a very good promoter of the subject, rather over-enthusiastic at times, and he does, in his own way, raise the profile of a lot of interesting problems that could do with being raised - for example the boundaries between human and machine. Eccentric, out-spoken, often technically wrong but largely harmless.

It would be interesting if after all this time he could be persuaded to directly speak with El Reg...

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SLOW DOWN: Insecure-by-design software on road

Nick Ryan
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I'm pretty sure that this default display of FOG is not truly random and your assertion that they avoid showing this when it is actually foggy would back this up. In my experience they seem to target bright sunny afternoons more than any other time of day.

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UK govt preps World War 2 energy rationing to keep the lights on

Nick Ryan
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Re: Actual preparation for the future

Unfortunately that's a sensible plan, and not something that will have been dreamed up by a politician or parcelled out by accountants therefore it will never happen. Just like the good plans of building canals to ship heavy non-time sensitive goods up and down the country and to shift water from where there's lots of it (I'm thinking of you, Manchester) to where there isn't so much.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Our MPs

In Oxford it was always regarded that PPE is a bullshit waffle degree where you can write whatever you want as long as you make up some half arsed justification in your text. It was rumoured to be pretty much marked on word count... [I didn't do PPE]

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Nick Ryan
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Worse to come is the water / food crisis:

1) Sell off the resevoirs so houses can be built on them.

2) Sell off prime agricultural land so houses can be built on them.

3) Look confused as to why concreting over enormous amounts of land causes drainage problems.

4) Look confused as to why with increasing oil prices food becomes even more expensive when most of it has to be imported.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Yup..

It's not necessarily pandering to the green vote, it's pandering to the oil vote. Shutting down nuclear reactors benefits non-sustainable power sources.

What we really need is good energy storage. Renewables can become useful then.

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Could you make a Google-grade data center OS? For $10.5m?

Nick Ryan
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Is it me or do these kind of systems blur the difference between a system running many processes and many processes running on a system?

A virtual machine is little more than a set of processes (with communications and storage), how much of the unnecessary junk can be removed from a virtual machine before it becomes hard to differentiate between it a group of processes running on another system?

Just a lunchtime thought, may even make sense tomorrow

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

Nick Ryan
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Re: AI is harder than Turing expected

Yes. You're so obsolete that you don't even know it yourself.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: AI is harder than Turing expected

Intriguing read about the "Halting Problem". But it goes to justify why my loosely held general belief that mathematicians should stay clear of programming still runs true.

I've had countless arguments with mathematicians pretending to be programmers... from those that claimed that "5g" languages would make programmers obsolete to those that can't grasp that while small parts of a typical application can be represented in a mathematical manner, it quickly becomes pointless trying to apply such an unsuitable technique to wider applications or algorithms. While it is of course possible, the dataset rapidly becomes a ludicrous set of multi-dimensional possibilities and while the analysis can be streamlined the sheer processing power requirements to model and validate the entire thing renders any attempt pointless. In the end the algorithm effectively degenerates into a simulation. In many ways this is similar to computer chess.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: AI is harder than Turing expected

That's the problem with, in this case, a historical lack of understanding. The brain isn't a binary device and while any individual component doesn't run especially fast, they do run in parallel. The concept of a machine fooling a human in a blind test is still a clever device, even if the understanding and predictions were out.

This kind of historical take on something is often quite interesting, for example Asimov's robots could not speak but could understand. It was later advances in technology that lead to the "artificial voicebox" in his books. From a biological point of view it was correct - babies and toddlers can understand much more than they can speak, however from a technology point of view it's reversed as speech synthesis is simple compared to contextual comprehension.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Hmmm...

Pretty close to the "reviews" many goods, services, holiday locations or restaurants receive. It's almost uncanny how many always include the same key points.

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Compare Apple's and oranges: LaCie's hi-vis jacket-wearing disk is not for hipsters

Nick Ryan
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Re: Worth every penny

The difference between these looks to be the IP rating (no note of this on the ebay item, IP54 for the lacie) and I'd hope that the interior circuitry / connectors would be more rugged in the lacie than the ebay item.

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China puts Windows 8 on TV, screams: 'SECURITY, GET IT OUT OF HERE!'

Nick Ryan
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Re: "This gets messy with code signing involved."

Yes and no. Hence messy. For example, online file streams do not contain metadata.

All of the metadata (file streams) attached to an individual file would have to be verified to ensure consistent operation on the off chance that code within that module, or any other for that matter, checks the metadata and changes behaviour as a result.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: What's the point of having access to the Microsoft 'source code'?

The test is that the provided code must compile and be binary identical to the publicly available deployed files. This gets messy with code signing involved.

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We present to you: 840 fine, upstanding young disks stuffed into a rack cabinet – DDN

Nick Ryan
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The vertical deployment of the drives looks sensible from the purely spatial point of view as it means all the non-drive space (power, data, cables and support) is put into one plane which should optimise the use of space. Vertical stacking would remove the need for cables in the same way that commercial removable external HDD units work (if you're in the business of swapping out HDDs, these kind of exposed external HDD "caddies" are invaluable).

I can't see any details from the picture, but if I were designing this I would combine the cooling and support elements into one form, a thin metal (e.g. thermally conductive) caddy that ensures that the drive sits true on the connectors and doesn't topple or otherwise shear or twist the connectors. It would effectively make the caddy a part of a monster heat pipe.

They will be a bugger to deal with though, particularly when you need to swap a drive in the top unit at the top of a 42U rack. Servers are annoying enough, any although these probably don't have a lid case on top to content with, the drives would have to be carefully removed to not interfere with the operation of adjacent drives.

EDIT: Just googled the SS88460 user guide and aside from the unit looking different to the datasheet model and the image here on El Reg, it has slots for pairs of drives and enclosed caddies for each HDD.

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Londoners urged to cut landlines and take up wireless broadband

Nick Ryan
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Exactly. How many wifi channels are there? How would this interact with private wifi which will operate on the same frequencies and standards.

With the shared wireless bandwidth where every additional connection reduces the overall available bandwidth due to the coordination required between them, 4G connections that are fine as long as you happen to have a good signal, i.e. you're not indoors, moving and don't have pesky bags of water standing in the way.

And then there's the network route from the mast wifi/4G to the Internet...

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Get ready for Europe's ROBO-BUTLERS: Billions of €€€s pledged to electro-slave dream

Nick Ryan
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Re: Agricultural robots?

I saw or read about this or something very similar a few years ago where the facility was in the middle of a few fields and it also controlled access to these fields for field rotation purposes. It's a phenomenal setup, but I hadn't realised that it had gone any further and was in actual use, particularly given the likely cost.

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Queen's Speech: Computer Misuse Act to be amended, tougher sentences planned

Nick Ryan
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Re: Computer Misuse Act needs more of an update than that

The progressive ones use fax machines now? Wow. Most seem incapable of progressing beyond photocopies of photocopies and 2nd class stamps.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: WTF are 'paedophilic manuals'?

Why no legislation on burglary manuals? Or Murder manuals? Armed robbery manuals? (Maybe it's the programmer in me, but why not create an abstract law regarding the dissemination of criminal techniques in manuals and then have a concrete implementation for each crime?)

Because that would be sensible and would not pander to the idiots / daily mail readers / voters (delete as applicable). A sane lawyer, yes, I couldn't believe one still existed, recently stated that having more and more specific laws was a bad thing. Unless you are a lawyer. And guess what's the background of a lot of the top MPs...

There were also some statistics about the number of new laws introduced recently compared to historically. The rise is phenomenal, and it's not because there are a great many new or novel crimes being committed. Creating new laws is very different to enforcing them.

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How I poured a client's emails straight into the spam bin – with one Friday evening change

Nick Ryan
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There is an attachment to the idea of Outlook + Exchange + Public Folders that no force in the universe is ever going to dislodge.

Microsoft is working very hard on this.

1) They've been steadily depracating Public Folders with every release of Exchange and Outlook (including refusing to fix decade old bugs) in favour of... sharepoint.

2) It's cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud all the way. Or, more accurately, subscription services under Microsoft's control.

Luckily, Microsoft hasn't been entirely successful in killing off Public Folders yet.

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Former Microsoftie becomes US ambassador, opts to swear in on KINDLE

Nick Ryan
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Re: Up the river

Is the use of a Kindle in this way one of the accepted, licenced uses of the device, deviating from which invalidates the warranty?

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Quantum teleportation gets reliable at Delft

Nick Ryan
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Re: Star Trek Transporter

It was created as a cost saving device, not a time saving device.

The cost of the effects of the ships, shuttle, and so on landing at each new location would have been prohibitive. However a static(*) scene overlaid reveal process (i.e. the teleport animation) was very cheap regardless of the setting.

* You'll notice that with very few exceptions that the scene the characters are leaving or arriving by teleport was always static, clever cuts and edits disguised this very well. Much more recent examples changed this of course.

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SCIENCE explains why you LOVE the smell of BACON

Nick Ryan
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Re: Can I just add..

I curse you, you vile carnivores..

I'll have you know that I'm an omnivore, not a carnivore. (Just like almost every non-vegetarian/vegan).

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Streaky Bacon

In general I wouldn't touch USA bacon with a shitty stick, nor anything else pork based, unless it's organic or similar. The last stuff you want to eat is any US mass produced pork.

It only took me three days to teach staff at a US hotel how to cook bacon properly, possibly prompted by my queries as to how many injury claims they receive regarding shards of US style cooked bacons shattering and exploding when prodded with a fork...

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The hoarder's dilemma: 'Why can't I throw anything away?'

Nick Ryan
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Re: Platters as mug mats

That's just the pace of modern progress isn't it? We used to use 3 1/2" floppy disks as mug mats and these days nothing less than a multi-Gb coaster will do the job.

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Google TOO WHITE and MALE, says HR boss, looking in mirror

Nick Ryan
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Re: Diversity is bollocks

Can discrimintation ever be positive....?

Occasionally, yes. For example, police "liaison officers" (or whatever they've been rebranded this week) need to have representatives for any of the isolationist communities that they need to deal with. On the other hand, you could put this as part of the job description role rather than the selection process.

If we're not careful, we'll have 78 year old male pole dancers... :)

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

Little boys are encouraged to be bold, girls are encouraged to be quiet and behave. Boys are considered to be better at rational problem-solving, women are presumed to be more empathetic, and so each type of behaviour is drilled into tiny brains until it 'takes'. It seems as if it must be Nature, doesn't it-- we are born this way. And society actively polices this.

Oh FFS. Males and females are different. We are genetically distinct, we generally have different body structures and shapes and our brains are generally wired up differently. This doesn't mean that there aren't exceptions to the rule and that there are crossovers on the physical or mental level, but that in general males and females are predisposed to certain activities. This doesn't make this wrong, just a recognition of the facts. Visit any human trash area or, more accurately, areas where it is common that parenting is considered something for somebody else to do, and you'll quickly notice that it's not a rule that boys are bold and girls are quiet.

Ask any woman (hi) who has walked into a male-only work environment. Or watch the dominant group (white, male, straight) gang up on the 'outsider' (woman, or gay male, or non-white.)

Here we have the usual racist, sexist response. This is very rarely a racist or sexist issue, it's a grouping, "gang", if you like, issue. It doesn't matter if you are black, brown, white, male, female, gay or straight, intrude into an area dominated by a distinct group of people and if you don't fit in, you will be isolated and, often, abused in some manner. This is, unfortunately, how such groups work and you can either adhere to the group's predispositions or work, socially, to break down barriers. I've personally seen an office of "brown" female co-workers mercilessly taunt and abuse a "white" male co-worker, a group of "brown" make workers abuse a sole "black" co-worker, a small group of mixed-sex "brown" co-workers isolate themselves from a larger group of mixed sex "white" co-workers and then cry discrimination when they weren't included in social events yet excluding the others from what they considered to be their "own" events.

It's a crude generalisation, but some of the most racist people I know are "minorities" who have appalling views on the "majorities" and mountain sized chips on their shoulders to match. The worst case was some trash on twitter who claimed that "it wasn't possible to be racist to a majority."

(and in case anybody cares, the use of black, brown or white here is just descriptive and it's a hell of a lot easier than recording "Irish, Welsh, Cornish, English, Brittany French, Scandinavian, Andalusian, Spanish, and every other national / identity grouping that you care to think of).

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Google's driverless car: It'll just block our roads. It's the WORST

Nick Ryan
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Re: Built for America

There are a few choice European locations that I'd like to see them handle... the Arc' De Triomphe roundabout being one, along with pretty much anywhere in Rome.

Further afield, the mountain roads of Poland where it's considered normal to a) park on a blind corner and b) overtake on a blind corner, and that's just one example of perpetual lunacy on the road.

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Nick Ryan
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Google maps (navigation) knows about tunnels and handles them appropriately, not whining about a lack of satellites and even switches the display to night mode. The sensors do get confused if you stop in the the tunnel but will pick up again when you regain a satnav signal.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Stuff it can't hope to deal with

And if you've ever my my mother-in-law on the road, she's even worse than white van drivers... she ignores cyclists and pretends that they're not there and therefore drives past giving them no space. She also believes that "it's ok to drink drive if you're a local".

She's ideal google car material.

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Amazon's cloud reign may soon come to an end, says Gartner

Nick Ryan
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Re: This Just In

The only interesting thing with gartner "reports" is guessing who paid for the report. Sometimes even this isn't very interesting as it's too obvious.

Gartner: Telling you want you want to hear since 1979.

or more accurately:

Gartner: Telling your prospective customers what you want them to hear since 1979

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