* Posts by John Robson

1583 posts • joined 19 May 2008

Google robo-car backs into bendy-bus in California

John Robson
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Whose fault is this?

The Google car tried to create two lanes of traffic when only one was described by the road.

- This was because of the wierd turn right on red rule, it was probably indicating right.

It then got stuck behind a stationary obstructon - the lane wasn't as wide as it looked.

When traffic started flowing it then went to merge with the traffic as a gap appeared.

The bus driver, in the same lane, drove their bus into the GooCar.

I suggest that the bus driver may have thought the Lexus was parked/parking if the right indicator was still on - else they should not have been trying to pass a vehicle in the same lane. Ideally the Lexus would have been indicating left at this point of course.

There are cars parked along that road in the streetview linked by a previous commentard.

As for their safety record - they have driven far further than the average driver ever will - and each time any one of them encounters an 'interesting' situation they *all* learn from it...

That's far better than the current situation...

After all how many people get killed by drivers each year?

30 thousand a year in the USA, another 2k/year in the UK

That's not a particularly high bar to exceed - and the advantage is that the "drivers" will get better over time, they won't develop sloppy habits, get tired, read an SMS, be cross with the kids in the back. They don't have "blind spots", they don't have tempers, they don't start sneezing.

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Microsoft releases Windows 10 preview for Raspberry Pi 3

John Robson
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Re: No, thank you.

It might be - but actually I wouldn't mind being able to throw a Win10 SD card into a Pi3.

I'm sure there will be "windows only" things that my kids come home from school with, so having an easy "pop this SD card in, machine will connect to the dirty network, do windows stuff" would be useful.

Of course the work will get sent back as a scanned photo of the work on a wooden table, embedded in a libreoffice document...With a note saying that it really should be possible to do homework on any PC...

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Lonely bloke in chem suit fuels Mars orbiter

John Robson
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Re: Ignition...

It may well be out of print - only took me a few minutes to find the pdf last time..

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John Robson
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Ignition...

With so many rocket fuel stories should the editors be linking to the rather excellent book "Ignition", as recommended by a fellow commentard a few stories ago?

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Apple hasn't announced the new iPhone 5SE and pundits already hate it

John Robson
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Re: Shall I be an analyst for the day?

"That said, they have access to far better market research than I do, and their earnings appear to vindicate them."

They at least say that the choices they are making aren't disastrous. But we can't tell if they might be better still with a range of device formats.

I have a broken 4S - bought from fleabay - simply acting as an SMS/iMessage gateway because they couldn't be bothered to support SMS in the SIM equipped iPad (and I prefer to use the iPad for SMS than my phone)

I suppose that makes it a *good* decision on their part...

The 4S won't see upgrades, but since it does absolutely nothing other than act as an SMS relay (with a prepay SIM) I'm not fussed.

If they ever make an iPhone that I am vaguely interested in then they are likely to get another sale - but the current range don't cater to what I want in a phone - at all...

I can't imagine that I'm the only person who has similar requirements/desires - I'm happy to be niche/unusual/odd, but I doubt I'm unique... (I'm not rich enough to be eccentric).

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John Robson
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Shall I be an analyst for the day?

Then I can tell Apple what *I* want.

Since I use a tablet for things that need a larger screen I don't care about screen size or apps.

I care about battery life, making calls, and some SMS (iMessage relaying preferred).

The other requirement I have is that my contacts get synced onto the phone for use in aforementioned calls...

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Apple fires legal salvo at FBI for using All Writs law in iPhone brouhaha

John Robson
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Re: "the world will not end"

"Oh, and changing th iCloud password is a good idea. It prevents an accomplice deleting data."

Do you really think that Apple deletes data when you ask for it to longer be on your cloud storage?

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US boffins propose yet another low-low power Wi-Fi for Things

John Robson
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if it's just sensors...

Then do they need a receiver to poll?

I mean a transmit of data each ${interval} and then every ${big_interval} transmit to say "send me more crypto information in the next 1 second"

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Sick burn, brah: SpaceX test fires rockets for SES bird launch this week

John Robson
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Hence the decision to aim for the barge, not land.

It will be tight, but they'll have run the numbers...

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Software, not wetware, now the cause of lousy Volvo drivers

John Robson
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Re: No no no

Although in this case it's possibly the *following* driver rather than the volvo driver...

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No tit for tat, or should that be tat for tit ... Women selling stuff on eBay get lower bids

John Robson
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And who is this Alison person?

Where is Janet?

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FBI iPhone unlock order reaction: Trump, Rubio say no to Apple. EFF and Twitter say yes

John Robson
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Re: Apple has supported alphanumeric passwords for ages

"There is no useful intelligence on that phone, and they know it. It is security theater."

So - let's go full conspiracy nut here:

- They've cracked the phone, and know there is no useful intel...

- So they don't actually care how long this drags through court...

- But they think they have public support because of terrorists...

- So we'll crack the armour with this one, then use it as precedent next time we want something...

Shame Apple are a step ahead with the secure enclave - at least I really hope they are a step ahead with the SE. I imagine it might find that it can't be updated without the passphrase/code soon...

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Why Tim Cook is wrong: A privacy advocate's view

John Robson
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Re: Insecure by design

They don't need to sneak it in like this though - they can be quite open about it, and have it as part of a normal upgrade. They could, I'm sure make a mechanism for enforced upgrades to certain modules, but it should still wait for the the phone to be unlocked (maybe allow 5 "wait" prompts?)

I like the ideas from a previous thread:

- Firmware/Software should only be updatable on an unlocked phone

- Charging should only be possible when authenticated*, or powered down

- Secure boot time passphrase permitted (separate from the unlock screen)

*Authenticated - maybe allow for configuring certain networks/geofencing for convenient charging at home, but frankly unlocking the phone when you plug it in is hardly a major chore.

This then means that the phone can't be indefinitely kept "asleep" by a nefarious individual - and brings the boot passphrase into play.

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The Nano-NAS market is now a femto-flop being eaten by the cloud

John Robson
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Re: I'm still looking...

Yes - but £200-£300 for them?

Seriously?

The orinoco ones are at least ~£100, which still seems expensive to me..

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John Robson
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I'm still looking...

for a multi bay, jbod, hotswap usb enclosure.

Any PC can share disk as needed, I just need a way to attach several in a sane configuration, and be able to swap in and out the rotating backup set...

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Apple must help Feds unlock San Bernardino killer's iPhone – judge

John Robson
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Re: In next weeks news...

Along with a requirement to unlock the phone to start it charging when it's powered on...

The clock is a ticking...

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Debian 6.0 about to take flying leap off long term support cliff

John Robson
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Re: Upgrading

It's not that bad actually.

There is a whole pile of stuff there that only applies if you already know about it...

From memory I could just run:

sudo aptitude dist-upgrade

But that might be an ubuntu-ism, or deprecated since I last bothered.

I can't even decide if I want to do a live upgrade, or just take the opportunity for a clean build...

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John Robson
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Darn

I need to upgrade.

Oh well, it had to happen some time I suppose. Need to go an check which the next LTS is...

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Virgin Atlantic co-pilot dazzled by laser

John Robson
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Re: @Symon

"If it is frequency doubling you really only have to block two specific wavelengths. IR is less of a concern since we can't see IR anyway, so no one will miss it if the entire IR spectrum is filtered."

Oh dear...

You stare into this CO2 laser for me will you?

THe IR bit is actually MORE dangerous than the visible light bit, since you don't notice it until it's done vast amounts of permanent damage to your retina.

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ESA's Sentinel satellite to ride converted ICBM

John Robson
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Re: Rockot fuel

"ignition" is always worth a read.

It has some great one liners, as well as a huge amount of technical detail.

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This is why copy'n'paste should be banned from developers' IDEs

John Robson
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More importantly the BSD implementation fires up a whole new shell to return 0.

If you need truth to be repeatedly called, lots of times, then there might be a benefit to something compiled - but there is still no justification for the other approach.

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Boffins smear circuitry onto contact lenses

John Robson
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Re: Application?

I have an astigmatism, bad enough to really need glasses, but not horrific.

I can't get on with lenses though - I have tried them, but it took the optician 45 minutes and anaesthetic drops to get them out of my eyes. Next time I tried them I couldn't get them in...

I really liked them whilst they were in, but yes there is an issue when they go out of line - I hadn't realised it was as common as you suggest.

Maybe a small gyro so the display can self correct to be upright ;)

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John Robson
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Re: Application?

Unless you have an astigmatism, and therefore weighted lenses, I understand that most lenses spin freely on the eyeball.

So these would need to be weighted if they were to be used as any sort of display.

Looking at their other research though - I wonder if they intend to be "darken on request", at which point, why not just use photochromatic tints?

I can't see them packing much of a bettery pack either - so maybe a combination IRIS and RFID scanner???

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LIGO boffins set to reveal grav-wave corker

John Robson
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Re: I'm glad to see they are taking their time.

No - it requires journalists to have some clue about what they are reporting on, or to take the scientists words and not ignore the ones they don't understand.

Since that isn't likely to happen they have to say nothing for a long while - because "initial results" gets translated to "confirmed discovery" when it really means "there was a squiggle in the data, we're not sure why yet"

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Fleet of 4.77MHz LCD laptops with 8088 CPUs still alive after 30 years

John Robson
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SSD Wear levelling isn't pretend.

Electronics can and do wear out - but I agree, most "failures" nowadays are built in.

Of course the issue is more obvious with smaller process sizes, which are required for higher speed and lower power consumption...

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Remember Netbooks? Windows 10 makes them good again!

John Robson
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Re: Pah!

My 701 still has debian on board - but the keyboard is a bit broken (a few of the keys only respond intermittently)

Haven't had to use it in a while though...

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Who wants a quad-core 4.2GHz, 64GB, 5TB SSD RAID 10 … laptop?

John Robson
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Re: Luggable

"Sounds like an Osborne to me"

Just checked - it was a Compaq. With some image searching - a Compaq Portable (released in 1983, came home in about '85)

Clearly I misremembered the shelf, and the "working" orientation (but it was carried upright) - got the curly cable right though ;)

Released: March 1983 US$3590 (two floppy system) | Weight: 28 pounds | CPU: Intel 8088, 4.77MHz - RAM: 128K, 640K max | Display: 9" monochrome monitor built-in 80 X 25 text | Storage: Two 320K 5-1/4" disk drives

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John Robson
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Luggable

I remember those....

My father brought home a "portable" computer from work. It had a ~5" screen at the top, two 5.25" disk drives, then a shelf to store spare disks.

The full sized keyboard clipped onto the front, connected by a nice curly cable.

Mains powered, obviously...

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T-Mobile US's BingeOn does break net neutrality, says law prof

John Robson
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Re: Huh?

A zero rated low bandwidth mode...

i.e. you can elect to have your data unmetered if you have it at a lower bandwith.

...at the same speed

That lower bandwidth will be equivilant to the bandwidth required for streaming on BingeOn.

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John Robson
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No....

""Even if T-Mobile could somehow add every single video provider to Binge On – large and small, commercial and non-commercial – the program would still violate net neutrality," she argues. "Binge On favors video streaming over all other Internet uses, even those that use the same amount of bandwidth or less. As long as Binge On gives special treatment to video as a class, it undermines the vision of an open Internet, where all applications have an equal chance of reaching audiences – and people, not ISPs, choose how to use the bandwidth available to them.""

Special treatment as a class isn't the issue - we need that for VoIP >>> P2P control.

What's at issue is whether it's special treatment per provider...

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Lights out for Space Vehicle Number 23: UK smacked when US sat threw GPS out of whack

John Robson
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Re: Hmm...

@ x 7

I did say that the distances were generally static - but of course the failure was on digital broadcasting...

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John Robson
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Re: 'precision docking of oil tankers, as well as navigation'

Yes, but if you are listening to two different birds? and one has an error of this magnitude?

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John Robson
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Re: Hmm...

Because it's a radio signal that is traversing the earth, so the recievers further away would be behind those closer to Anthorn.

For most things people do that wouldn't matter - but this was a 13 microsecond glitch causing issues...

That's 4 km

The UK is larger than that (citation needed)

Most of the critical stuff is probably static, so extra delays could be calculated - but this is a very high accuracy failure...

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UC Berkeley profs blast secret IT monitoring kit on campus

John Robson
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To be fair, paper is nicer to read at home than my kindle (the keyboard one).

But for travel the kindle wins hands down.

Actually my kids rather like the kindle as well, easier to hold than a big book.

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FaceTime, WhatsApp UDP streams AWOL on iOS 9 beta with T-Mo US

John Robson
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Re: Well...

"But if you want or need decent VoIP, use something based on real, open, inter-operable standards. In my experience, Facetime and WhatsApp are just toys. Complaining when they break just makes me wonder why people don't seek a better alternative."

Facetime is actually pretty damned good.

I want something reliable, but actually it's more important to have "something that the other person has".

That narrows it down a bit - is your girlfriend a techie? what do you use?

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Oracle now fully compliant with UK tax laws*

John Robson
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2 Months?

That's really not all that long - or is just here that we take at least a year for a fairly low impact upgrade.

HR software - that takes far longer...

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Pebble punts out new firmware to watch you as you sleep

John Robson
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A useable smartwatch?

That strap looks as though it might make a smartwatch useable?!

Still slow and pretty small, but often you only want a small piece of information anyway. Can they detect finger extension, then I can get two and type on air ;)

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Firing a water rocket to 1km? Piece of cake

John Robson
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D'Oh - of course you are right - that is the way to distribute the energy.

My brain got stuck on the new Ro-Kit I got for the kids (cough) recently.

But on the basis that all the serious (single stage) rockets still use very short "burn" times, I'll stand by my suggestion that lifting the reaction mass is probably a bad idea.

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John Robson
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How do you propose to distribute the thrust?

The only way to distribute the thrust is to reduce the pressure (so the water takes longer to be spat out of the 'fire end'). And that reduces the energy stored.

Additionally, distributing the thrust means that you have to lift some of your reaction mass (water) - whereas dumping it all in the first 0.1s means that none of it is lifted beyond about 4-5m of the ground. That leads directly to more energy in the rocket.

Yes, the atmosphere is a bit of a pain - I wonder if they can take a water rocket with them to the moon next time - see how well it goes there ;)

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It killed Safe Harbor. Will Europe's highest court now kill off hyperlinks?

John Robson
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Take down all road signs...

Then there will be no burglary...

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'Dodgy Type-C USB cable fried my laptop!'

John Robson
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Re: Who the hell...

It wasn't *that* suspicious first time. I'll side with you on the second analyser though.

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John Robson
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Re: Who ever designed..

So you think that applying 12W through the data pins should result in unicorns frolicking rather than the release of the magic blue smoke?

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Little warning: Deleting the wrong files may brick your Linux PC

John Robson
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Re: Windows.

Why fuss about accidentally - it's the new ransomware.

Don't reboot or everything is gone...

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Alphabet, cough, Google most valuable biz on Earth as it pours billions into 'other bets'

John Robson
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Really?

"CEO Sundar Pichai said that YouTube viewership among the 19-45 age group now has more viewers than any US cable channel. YouTube viewing in the living room more than doubled in the last year, he said, pushing up revenues."

Would that be because you count people or devices, not households?

How many of that age group are giving you money?

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Brit airline pilots warn of drone menace

John Robson
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Re: How bad?

The motors on the drone are rather more solid than any single bit of a turkey.

Whether they are solid enough to shatter a turbine blade every time, or just one in a hundred, is not a question I want answered in the air, but on a test bed:

YouTube

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Reg readers battle to claim 'my silicon's older than yours' crown

John Robson
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Nuclear Power Station...

Surely a RasPi could be put together to emulate the outputs and respond to the inputs?

Could even operate a nice displayboard of the "heavy metal power building"

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Land Rover Defender dies: Production finally halted by EU rules

John Robson
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Ironic

Given that the thing is easily repairable, generally with a hammer and some string, I'd be surprised if it wasn't actually rather more ecologically sound than some of the "ship everything around the world forty times, then throw it out when a bulb fails" models on the market...

Ah, but they emit less/mile - yes, but they'll only do 20k in their lifetime....

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You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

John Robson
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rm -rf /etc /bin /usr

I managed to run the above, as root, on a solaris development server...

To be fair I did tell my boss that I shouldn't be doing that dev work on a development server, but on a test machine - but they'd run out of test machines...

The work? chroot jail manipulation...

The intended command: rm -rf etc bin usr

Which would have cleared up the chroot jail I didn't need any more...

The consequences?

A rather hasty test of the backups - or a reinstall, I genuinely can't remember any more (15+ years ago)

What I do remember was hitting return, then thinking "That's taking a bit longer than normal.... Oh Shit! Ctrl-C, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-C.. Aaaarrrgggghhhh. Fuck, Bother"

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Ban internet anonymity – says US Homeland Security official

John Robson
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More importantly driving a motor vehicle requires a license.

Does he have an internet license? If not then he shouldn't be browsing, and we should probably not let his comments pass...

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Google patents robotic 'mobile delivery receptacle'

John Robson
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Front porch?

Why not have the drone drop the package into the BACK garden - the one that is normally much more secure (at least in the UK)

Lay out a small pad for final visual approach, go to work - return to find package (which is rain proof) on the pad outside back door.

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