* Posts by John Robson

1580 posts • joined 19 May 2008

Tinder bans under-18s: Moral panic averted

John Robson
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Re: Why is 18 improbably old?

@AC - Emotional maturity doesn't magically happen at a certain age or at the same age for everyone. Trying to tie the legal age to something like that is pointless.

So why have a limit at all?

@AC - The legal age is to protect against exploitation not teenage regrets.

Actually it's there for protection of all sorts, not just exploitation. Teenage regrets are nothing compared with unplanned children in an unstable (or non existent) family.

The limit is in place because there are consequences which cannot be reasonably accounted for by most teenagers - and we really ought to be protecting the less able teenagers. Sex isn't something that is required for life to continue, there is no significant detriment to having teenagers wait (I know of no-one who has regretted waiting).

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John Robson
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Why is 18 improbably old?

Physical and emotional maturity are not attained at the same time...

I know/knew far more people who had serious regrets about early sexual encounters than people who celebrated them unconditionally. The difference is more pronounced for one gender - but that's where emotional maturity is particularly important for the other...

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Freeze, lastholes: USB-C and Thunderbolt are the ultimate physical ports

John Robson
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Re: Smaller network plug than RJ45 please!

Don't know if you ever had an X-Jack (I think) PCMCIA network card.

It had a sort of tray that popped out to accept a vertically oriented rj45 cable.

Bit flimsy though.

RJ45 has to support the weight of a cat5/6 cable, so some mechanical rigidity is required for most places.

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John Robson
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I'm sure thunderbolt is great...

but the cost is prohibitive at the moment - the cables alone cost a fortune.

HDMI/DisplayPort/DVI will be around for a while. Ethernet will certainly remain.

Space division multiplexing is far easier when you have wave guides available...

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Android might be on the way to the Raspberry Pi

John Robson
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Not sure...

how I feel about this, except that I have one application that I'd love to use a Pi for, but it needs android (or me to do a whole pile of porting)

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US nuke arsenal runs on 1970s IBM 'puter waving 8-inch floppies

John Robson
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So we complain

when the develop new stuff,

and we complain when they keep systems running for decades. Whatever the budget overrun back then it's probably still cheaper than they thought it was in terms of years of operation...

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Microsoft bans common passwords that appear in breach lists

John Robson
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Re: Only one soluion...

threeandsix?

They are two factors of eighteen after all...

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John Robson
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Joke

Re: Microsoft what?

"remember to backspace the last four when I try and log in."

So now it's a 24 key password - more secure, see....

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Former Sun CEO Scott McNealy has data on 1/14th of humanity

John Robson
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Re: Dataless/stateless thin client

"the problem there is they can't run anything phones and tablets can't"

Yes they can: anything that needs a real keyboard. You can, of course, tote a separate keyboard around to plug into your phone or tablet but you then have a netbook in two parts.

Except of course that that is actually a convenient form factor for many people.

I have an iPad which I use for almost everything - I also have a couple of bluetooth keyboards - one folding one, and one Apple one in a decent case (which also supports the iPad should I need it)

Most of the time I just use the iPad mini, when travelling I'll take the small keyboard with me. It's about the size of a mobile phone or a wallet, and fits nicely in my case. IF I need it then it's there, but in general I don't need it when I'm out and about.

If I'm going somewhere to work seriously then I'll take the slightly larger keyboard in my case (it still fits) and that gives me a full sized keyboard. If I RDP/Citrix/VNC then all I really want is to be able to turn my phone into a wireless connected trackpad...

No plugging in required, I just open the keyboard and it automagically connects and I can type away. Of course for most things (where I'm on a conference call and screen sharing) then the iPad does it just fine, and I can take notes etc in the time honoured fashion - or, you know, pay attention.

Who am I kidding - I'll fire up the laptop to do some browsing whilst the iPad handles the work of making it look like I'm paying attention...

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British cops to film you with 59k body-worn cameras by end of year

John Robson
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Not 59,000 each then?

I was worried for a moment...

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Apple hires crypto-wizard Jon Callas to beef up security

John Robson
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Re: There are simple ways to recover from bricked phones

Add in optional authentication to charge (which is a fairly minor inconvenience) and you get to DFU pretty fast as well...

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India launches hypersonic space shuttle precursor

John Robson
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Because...

We've cured poverty over here - noone lives on the streets...

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Three UK: Our MMS prices are up. Get around us with WhatsApp or Skype

John Robson
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Can I disable MMS?

since I've never actually wanted to send an MMS...

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Smartmobes in spaaace: NASA deploys Android nanosats

John Robson
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Re: I know very little about space...

https://spaceflightnow.com/2015/07/30/nasa-tracking-cubesats-is-easy-but-many-stay-in-orbit-too-long/

"CubeSats launched inside pressurized cargo vessels and released outside the International Space Station are of little concern to space debris experts. The space station orbits at an altitude of about 260 miles, or 420 kilometers, where aerodynamic drag from the outer wisps of Earth’s atmosphere often brings CubeSats down within months.

For CubeSats sent to higher altitudes, the orbital lifetime is much longer, and most are not equipped with rocket thrusters to move out of the way of other satellites or lower their orbits at end-of-life.

The altitude cutoff for a 25-year lifetime is between 600 and 700 kilometers (373 to 435 miles), according to NASA’s orbital debris report."

Short version:

Ones chucked out of the ISS window will last months, but get 3 times higher and it could be 25 years before they burn up.

Given that, and the predicted rate of deployment they could be numerous, but they are still not a significant hazard due to our ability to track them

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John Robson
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Re: I know very little about space...

They are only in low obit, so they will deorbit of their own accord reasonably quickly. They are nudged away from the ISS, and the difference in drag between the two bodies, along with their newly changed orbital path, will mean they stay apart.

The relatively low altitude will ensure that they fall back to produce a small fireball...

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Art heist 'pranksters' sent down for six months

John Robson
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Re: "it seems a little imbalanced to me to bang them up"

"If the sun gets in to your eyes, what should you do? Immediately emergency stop? Maybe that will kill the person behind you who has also just driven in to glare? Back off the throttle and coast in to a space which just before the glare hit you saw to be empty? It's not an easy decision and it will depend on the exact situation."

You should "drive at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see to be clear" (HC126). I've never known the sun be particularly unpredictable, that's not to say I've never been dazzled by it, but I generally know when it's coming. The sun doesn't dance around the sky, it doesn't jump out.

Also see HC93: "Slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by bright sunlight."

You should be slowing down *into* that situation, and then slowing further. The vehicle behind you should be doing the same. You shouldn't be driving onto any piece of tarmac that you haven't actively confirmed is clear of other road users.

http://beyondthekerb.org.uk/2014/01/31/at-the-going-down-of-the-sun/

The difference is that these all resulted in death an no prosecution - because this is tolerated:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-23970047

The vast majority of people simply ignore the requirement to be able to see where you are going - and it's that simple fact that contributes to many lives being taken each year.

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John Robson
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Re: "it seems a little imbalanced to me to bang them up"

"Basically there were lots of easily foreseeable ways in which this could have killed someone. Quite rightly, you are not allowed to be so reckless with the lives and mental health of strangers."

Unless you do with a lethal weapon - in which case it's "just an accident" or "the sun got in my eyes, so I carried on driving a metal box at 30mph into a space I couldn't see".

People who kill others are frequently let off entirely, or given a pittance of a fine. These people filmed some acting, ok they did it to film the reaction of the public, but as far as I can tell the most dangerous thing they did was drive away...

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Raspberry Pi Zero gains a camera connector

John Robson
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Damn

Now I need another PiZero....

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A cracked window on the International Space Station? That's not good

John Robson
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Holes

There are 7 holes all the way through the cupola walls. Used to close the debris shields...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSzuiqVjJg4

An eighth wouldn't be good

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Banning computers makes students do better on exams – MIT

John Robson
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I suspect my daughter will be using her laptop in alot of classes very soon...

But then she is quite severely dyslexic, so I am going to spend half term starting her touch typing - which apparently does wonders for their language processing by using different bits of the brain.

Finding an appropriately sized keyboard was relatively hard work though - and at least the staff at school are supportive.

In the general case I suspect it depends far more on the attitude towards the machine than on the machine itself. Deny oneself internet access is a simple switch on most devices - it just needs to be applied for appropriate times.

Airplane mode in meetings is always good - you come out and people ask why you haven't replied to some inane email...

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TalkTalk customers decide to StayStay after £3m in free upgrades

John Robson
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Re: If Only...

And what the heck does "our learnings" mean, anyway?

I think it means "I failed my SAT, but because I'm a greedy fuckwit with no regard for ethics I'll do OK"

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First successful Hyperloop test module hits 100mph in four seconds

John Robson
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Re: So many luddites...

"Because we don't believe in an overhyped technology with a lot of obvious unresolved engineering and logistical issues (that bazza outlined better than I could earlier in this thread) we're Luddites?"

Engineering issues like hot landing a first stage booster stage on a floating barge having delivered the second stage to a geosynchronous transfer orbit?

Or like building an electric car which will do more miles to the charge than many of the petrol cars I've ever driven - and can have their battery swapped in less time than it takes to fill a tank?

Good thing we don't have the same person trying to change too many forms of transport. I mean a consistent approach can't possibly work on a third transport mode can it?

Is sanity doing the same thing that has worked before and expecting it work again?

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Windows 10 build 14342: No more friendly Wi-Fi sharing

John Robson
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Good

Automated WiFi key sharing was always really stupid.

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Kepler space telescope spots 1,284 new planets

John Robson
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"FTL"

1) Do this

2) Oh, and the instructions you'll receive in about 2 weeks - ignore them, sent them before FTL comms...

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John Robson
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Re: I'm calling it !!!!

The gaps aren't where God is...

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Can ad biz’s LEAN avert ADPOCALYPSE?

John Robson
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"I think it's pretty funny when advertisers get so far up their own arses that they think people LIKE ads."

VERY occasionally they get it right...

Honda Cog for example...

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John Robson
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"Untrue. You might like to believe that the adverts do not influence you, but every day millions of people will buy "Kellogg's" instead of an unbranded box of cornflakes at half the price, and your teenagers will choose "Nike" trainers over similar footwear simply because of the branding. And I wonder whether, like most people, you call your vacuum cleaner a "Hoover"?"

Well, I tend to buy the unbranded cornflakes, and choose trainers that fit my feet.

I do call the vacuum cleaner a hoover, but it isn't, it's a SEBO. That's brand genericide, not a good thing.

My sellotape isn't, my post-it notes aren't 3M...

I'm sure I am influenced by adverts - but the main effect has been to cancel my TV license and install ad blockers.

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Sic transit Mercury Monday

John Robson
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Re: Am I missing something?

You could take measurements yourself and use them to estimate the distance to the sun.

The real science is generally being done from orbitting observatories today, but schools can always use these events for an "interesting lesson"...

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Brit polar vessel christened RRS Sir David Attenborough

John Robson
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Re: Fair compromise

"Attenborough ... won a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge in 1945, where he studied geology and zoology and obtained a degree in natural sciences"

Not 'just a TV presenter', he actually knows his stuff as well.

He has done more for environmental protection than most people can ever hope to achieve.

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The 'new' Microsoft? I still wouldn't touch them with a barge pole

John Robson
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Re: I stopped using Redmond products in the year 2000.

They make good mice and keyboards...

As for software - yeah - I can do without it.

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Woman charged with blowing AU$4.6m overdraft on 'a lot of handbags'

John Robson
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If you owe the bank...

a thousand pounds then you have a problem

if you owe them a million pounds then they have a problem.

Looks like they can't work out what that problem is, or how to solve it...

Declare bankruptcy. Go away for 7 years - dig up the patio later.

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Skygazers: Brace yourselves for a kick in the Aquarids

John Robson
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Re: If you missed the Aquarid meteor display

Use binoculars or a small telescope to project the image of the Sun on a sheet of paper.Never look at the Sun directly.

Potentially easier is to use a mirror as a "pinhole":

http://www2.eng.cam.ac.uk/~hemh/transit.htm

All you need is

A mirror - a compact makeup mirror should do...

Some way of masking off all but a small section - masking tape will do, the section can be square

Some way of holding it still

A darkish (close most of the curtains) room which faces north.

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John Robson
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Re: Flying pigs

If the flying pigs are coming in at orbital velocity....ROAST PORK AND CRACKLING!!!!!

Probably not unfortunately...

https://what-if.xkcd.com/28/

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John Robson
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Earth pointing in the right direction...

Indeed.

3-5 am the bit of earth you are on is both dark and moving towards the relevant piece of space pretty fast. So it's not a timezone related thing (although I presume that DST is ignored)

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Mercury to transit Sun: Viewer discretion advised

John Robson
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Re: Can someone explain . . .

We're not quite coplanar.

There is a 7 degree difference:

Wikipedia

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Old fashioned engineering: HPC cluster kids would like to thank their fans. No really

John Robson
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Reward

Is lower than the price of a card they could (theoretically at least, I know there are protections in there) have burned?

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Hold on a sec. When did HDDs get SSD-style workload rate limits?

John Robson
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Re: You can never have too much disk space (or too much memory)

SSDs are the single most significant upgrade you can make to most machines.

A Fusion drive is just a diddy SSD with a larger HDD behind it.

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E-cigarettes help save lives, says Royal College of Physicians

John Robson
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Re: The vapours from these things still smell...

Yes, I do get nauseous near smokers - even some minutes after they have come back inside (nowhere near as bad by then of course)

No I'm not affected by WiFi/CFL (except that they allow me to communicate and see).

Potatoes don't affect me either - but I would suggest that the intake method is slightly different. Maybe it's not the nicotine, I did only say that I suspected it was, but there is something in both sets of gases that affect me, and affect me even when I am not aware of their presence.

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John Robson
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The vapours from these things still smell...

..., well most of them do. Not quite all.

I suspect it's the nicotine in them that makes me nauseous - because I can be quite fine, then feel badly nauseous very quickly and turn around to find someone with one of these devices...

One of the few things they all seem to have in common is the nicotine, and the few nicotine free ones I've smelt have been fine (and I've not known in advance for some of them).

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Galileos 11 and 12 live for your (imminent) navigating pleasure

John Robson
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Re: Tracking?

@Martin Summers - you are just inconveniencing yourself.

Or liberating yourself from the 24/7 email/contact drudgery that people seem to assume nowadays...

Says the man who uses a feature phone - and a 4G tablet... D'Oh.

Personally I think the tablet does it's job better than a stupidly oversized phone could, and I'd rather my phone had a week or more of battery life...

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Must listen: We've found the real Bastard Operator From Hell

John Robson
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Re: Almost perfect

Agreed -it's sufficiently bad that it's clearly a parody.

A few stutters/glitches (miss out _ word somewhere) and bad music with clipping and severe band filtering.

Then gently ramp the volume up and down, so the caller has to frequently adjust their volume controls...

Occasional "You are number " in the queue, please hold, your call will be answered soon...

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German prof scores €2.4m EU grant to crack software on your bicycle

John Robson
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Re: Its a bike...

There are broadly two classes of electric bike.

One is legally a pedal cycle (no special clothing, no VED, no registration) and the other is basically an electric motorbike.

Some places on the continent blur the lines slightly with mopeds and the rules around those vary - but technically you ought to be able to pedal those (not that you would want to)

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John Robson
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"Last time I saw him (a few years ago now), he was working on wireless brake controllers. It's a very interesting exercise analysing the reliability of wireless brake controls, and computing that despite your natural horror at the idea, they're no more likely to fail than a brake cable is to snap."

I'd suggest that the likelihood of either is dependant on maintenance.

If you don't keep charging a wireless system it will fail catastrophically fairly quickly. This is particularly true of the 'actuator' end of the system.

If you don't maintain a brake cable then after many years it will start to fray - it will get harder to apply the brakes, and eventually one of them will fail - but by that stage most people with that little mechanical sympathy will have taken the bike to their bike shop for new pads.

It's easier to get a cable to snap if you manage to set it up very badly of course...

Then he omits to mention hydraulics...

I wouldn't trust wireless brakes on a push bike - but it's not just the 'wireless' bit that concerns me, it's the extra batteries. And with wireless you can always jam a signal - which in this case would presumably put the brakes on full, inevitably causing a face plant for anyone on an upright bike...

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IBM says no, non, nein to Brexit

John Robson
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Re: @codejunky - RE: Brexit is all a sham like the Scotland referendum.

"There are 2 ways to look at the people who didnt vote. They dont care or they implicitly accept the outcome."

Or that they don't think it makes a blind bit of difference.

Would you like to be shot or hung: Please vote now.

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John Robson
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Re: @codejunky - RE: Brexit is all a sham like the Scotland referendum.

"@ John Robson

"I'm sorry - but 37% is not a majority."

Yes it is. When everyone else got considerably less than 37% across all parties yes it is. Simple math the most voted for the tories by a clear margin."

No - it's the largest slice, it's not a majority.

There is a nice table here: http://www.bbc.com/news/election/2015/results

Tory: 37% 331 seats

Labour: 30% 232 seats

Lib Dem: 8% 8 seats

SNP 5% 56 seats

So why is a 1% of the votes cast worth 1 seat for the Lib Dems, 7.7 for Labour, 8.9 for Tories and 11.2 for the SNP.

There are 650 seats, so each % of the vote should yield 6.5 seats worth of representation...

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John Robson
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Re: @codejunky - RE: Brexit is all a sham like the Scotland referendum.

"@ Graham Marsden

"Remind me again: What percentage of the votes did the Tories get which gave them a "majority" in Parliament?"

The majority, to the shock of a lot of people, including the tories who expected anther coalition. Looking it up the figure is almost 37% while labour got 30% with the rest being divided out. You might not like it but"

I'm sorry - but 37% is not a majority.

It might be the largest slice, but it is clearly far short of a majority.

Even worse is the percentage of the electorate who voted for them...

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Colander-wearing Irishman denied driver's licence in Pastafarian slapdown

John Robson
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Re: Obviously a parody

It's a parody because it was set up as one.

What scuppered him here was admitting that he didn't wear the colander to work, or on social occasions. It is therefore not a core tenet that it is always worn, so removing it for a photograph is clearly acceptable.

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Google discovers you assume clouds just work

John Robson
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That's good...

They have looked and decided that alerting users to BAU activity that is reliable is worse than telling them nothing - since they stop reading the alerts for serious issues.

The point of cloudy services is that it is SEP - so that's how people treat it.

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HTC 10: Is this the Droid you're looking for?

John Robson
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Re: HiRes

"This too shows ignorance of your knowledge of audio. The DAC built into this phone does make a huge difference especially using hi res ear buds.

It's your ears, but you're missing out."

I agree - the quality of the DAC is very important. And Ultimate Ears Reference earbuds would probably be considered high fidelity.

But there is no benefit in reproducing sounds that are at more than twice the frequency I can hear - and the act of trying to reproduce them means that the hardware is less well tuned in the audible frequencies, AND that you end up with unwanted audible harmonics.

As for 24bit depth - the human ear can theoretically get better than 16 bits, but 16 bits, with dither, can easily represent over 100dB of dynamic range. What are you trying to listen to that you need to go to the threshold of hearing (which is significantly less than an incandescent light bulb at 1m) and the threshold of pain?

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Ex-NSA security expert develops generic Mac ransomware blocker

John Robson
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Re: the chicken or the egg

It's not as if he claims any particular self protection - in fact he explicitly says that anything designed against it would probably work...

It's a first step, and should be an embarrassment to the current 'black list' discovery style of security software. It really is time that we had whitelists by default...

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