* Posts by John Robson

1491 posts • joined 19 May 2008

Researcher criticises 'weak' crypto in Internet of Things alarm system

John Robson
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Re: Optional

Hardly technophobic..

I can see the benefit of having some devices on WiFi - mostly user devices, but I doubt that an ethernet port shouldn't be significantly more expensive than a WiFi chip and antenna.

My NowTV boxes aren't mobile, they don't need the mobility of a WiFi connection, neither does an alarm system - which is presumably wired in to the house...

My Blu Ray player has an ethernet port on the back... One of the things I looked for when I bought it...

The benefit of using wires is that the airwaves need be shared by fewer devices. Wires make good a spatial division multiplex and avoids all the issues of whatever the latest wireless security issue is, as well as not limiting your next gen router to an older WiFi speed, compromising the remainder of your devices.

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John Robson
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Re: Bah!

Which is great - assuming infinite battery life...

And the thing should be SSL'd even over the WLAN - as someone mentioned above the light bulbs are leaking wifi credentials - as is Windows 10. Pretty sure a kettle did it recently as well...

Given that it probably insists on either WEP or an open wifi network....

Oh well - whatever happened to devices having an ethernet port :(

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Here's your Linux-booting PS4, says fail0verflow

John Robson
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Re: loss leader...

Hence the idea of paying for the linux "game"

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John Robson
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loss leader...

I know they try to make money on the games rather than the hardware, but why not release a Linux "game" that will reboot the machine to linux - then you can sell it (and the hardware) to the HPC guys and home enthusiasts...

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North Wales Police outsourcing deal results in massive overspend

John Robson
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Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

"But, as is quite evident, there's an endless stream of idiots all too happy to follow them. So, my point: how do hidden cameras help deter dangerous driving and/or speeding? "

Well, it would increase the likelihood of detection significantly - and that would mean that people wouldn't expect to get away with it.

It wouldn't take long for people, even the idiots you reference, to work out that if they speed then they *will* get busted, and therefore pay the appropriate price.

At that point it becomes an easy decision NOT to speed.

Currently the chance of detection is so small that there is no deterrent value.

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John Robson
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Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

@AC: I am aware of that saying - If you really think that being banned from ONE form of transport for a week would lose you your job/house/family then you need a reality check.

Sure the bus might take a bit longer, or friends might have to collect you en route to work. That's the point - driving is not a right, it's a privilege.

By putting everyone ELSE's lives at risk (which is what you are doing) then you are demonstrating that you are not fit to keep that privilege. Driving is the only obvious situation where people are allowed to take a lethal weapon into public and operate it in close proximity to the general public...

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John Robson
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Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

The first of those links was a speed camera at the side of the road.

Why should speed camera locations be advertised from miles off? Global compliance isn't aided by saying "We only check here".

The second is to do with speed cameras being operational at night - when arguably you should be doing less than the speed limit anyway since your visibility is reduced.

The problem is not with the police catching people speeding, it's with the courts not enforcing bans:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-essex-33378386

Easy solution to not getting banned. STOP SPEEDING.

I'd rather went for a "one week ban on first offence", then 2,4,8... system.

It might make people think a bit about their speed. Combined with a 10% of monthly income fine... and you might be motivated to stay within the posted limits (they're limits, not targets)

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John Robson
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Re: Motorists stay clear of North Wales

Alternatively motorists in North Wales could simply obey the law, then there is no risk of being fined...

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Getting metal hunks into orbit used to cost a bomb. Then SpaceX's Falcon 9 landed

John Robson
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Re: Bah! - the people at NASA might have considered the various options

Yes, but the HP startup didn't produce (trying to think of something good and complex that HP produce....), erm... all their products.., cough, from that garage.

They produced something small and simple, and did it well.

This is a somewhat different challenge. Can I suggest that you try a higher orbitting station in kerbal and see what the issues are?

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John Robson
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Re: STS comparison

"I don't think that the comparison of the STS with the Falcon 9 is valid; the STS had to cope with re-entry but the Falcon 9 doesn't, which will make a big difference in the refurbishment costs."

Well, it does have to cope with reenty - that's what the third burn is for.

It doesn't have to cope with reentry from orbital speeds however...

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John Robson
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Re: Falcon 9 vs New Shepard

Reddit images:

Flight paths

Rocket comparison

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John Robson
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Re: Bah!

"A proper space station would house people without the need for excessive special training. It would have enough gravity to make life relatively simple and provide proper windows so the visitors could see why they built the damn thing in the first place."

Has enough gravity - well, the ISS experiences about 90% of the gravitational force that we do on the surface - the thing is, it's in freefall - that's kind of required for an orbit...

You could set up a fast spinning station, but then you have lost half of your usable surfaces within the structure...

Windows of course are a rather delicate point. Both from a "resisting air pressure against the vacuum of space" and from the "a grain of sand could shatter this" perspectives. That's why there are 7 holes in the ISS YouTube.

"And it should float higher than a gnat's whisker away from the atmosphere, so it doesn't need so much shoving to keep it aloft. Which means we need better lifting engines so people can get there."

You can either keep boosting the ISS a little, or spend an inordinate amount more fuel *every* time you transfer people/cargo...

I'm again going to suggest that the people at NASA might have considered the various options regarding altitude, and decided on where it is for a reason...

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John Robson
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Re: Party Trick

See earlier posts - and consider how many people are thinking about it at SpaceX.

The structure has strength and rigidity in the required direction already, and both of the current private enterprises are doing it the same way...

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John Robson
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Re: Real numbers would be interesting

"but sitting on the pad does the fact the rocket underneath has done 17 trips already make you feel more or less confident?"

More confident than (and I quote):

"How do you think you'd feel if you knew you were on top of two million parts built by the lowest bidder in a government contract?"

I really don't know - but I'm probably not cut out to sit atop an experimental firework anyway...

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John Robson
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Re: Real numbers would be interesting

Not all payloads are the same - the largest payloads will always require the first stage to be forfeited, but slightly smaller payloads afford the spare capacity for some 'descent fuel' to be carried as well.

(Slightly lighter payloads don't have enough spare fuel to return to base, hence the barge landing option)

Of course given the cost of the stage it might be more economical to split the big payload in two and assemble it in orbit?!

As for designing things for reuse - it's a good thing that cars are single use items... and planes... and bikes.... and shoes....

Oh, wait a moment.

They don't have to be very much heavier, certainly not when compared with the all up mass of the rocket.

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John Robson
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Re: Ballistics

Landing might be patchy...

if doing that then why ditch stage 1 - why not use it to slow and land?

BTW - it's not (yet) man rated, and it's certainly not public rated.

The cost would also be stratospheric...

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John Robson
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Re: Very much agreed

Down Goer with fire still coming out as if was an Up Goer, and the right end pointing towards space.

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John Robson
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Re: Not the first falcon landing.

The article seems to think that there is no opportunity for the Falcon 9 engines to be modified to cope better with repeat lauches.

These engines will be tested, I expect to destruction...

The next set, well that depends how fast they break these ones...

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IT bloke: Crooks stole my bikes after cycling app blabbed my address

John Robson
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Re: Common sense

You define the circles yourself - so I have several covering my local estate - there are only three paths out, but all it says it what estate I am on.

Same around my office.

Not that any of my local rides are publically shared, nor do I record them any more...

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John Robson
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Re: Common sense

Ok - so where do you conceal by default?

The number of people who drive to the start of a bike ride is quite high, and there is no benefit to "concealing" the start of that ride.

The setup takes you through setting up privacy zones, and you then have to make each ride public.

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Xen Project blunder blows own embargo with premature bug report

John Robson
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Hope the patch can be applied fast?

And without taking down whoever it is that uses AWS?

(I've lost track of the people who use it, not implying that no-one does)

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Juniper's VPN security hole is proof that govt backdoors are bonkers

John Robson
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Re: humble pi

22/7 is good enough for most mental arithmetic.

355/113 is better, but harder to work with

3.142857...

3.14159292035...

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There's an epidemic of idiots who can't find power switches

John Robson
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Depends on the duration of the change window...

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UK ISP Sky to make smut an opt-in service from 2016

John Robson
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Re: Whats the problem

Yes - because it's the principle.

You shouldn't have to opt in to various categories of content - partly because there is absolutely no chance that the categorisation will be accurate and complete, making it completely pointless to start with, but also that there *will* be false positives...

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The ball's in your court, Bezos: Falcon 9 lands after launching satellites

John Robson
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On Earth....

Not on a barge?

So Lohan's launch date must be getting closer, or do you need to throw a few billion at the FAA?

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Canadian live route map highlights vulnerabilities to NSA spying efforts

John Robson
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The Canadians have it right then...

Rather than legislate against packets moving across some artificial border you make it easier for them to not bother crossing that border.

Wow - Can we (the rest of the world) elect them as the US president, and into congress?

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Let's shut down the internet: Republicans vacate their mind bowels

John Robson
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Can't we get an advisor to say...

"If only we could get Pi to be 4, then we could break this stuff"

And see them battle over that...

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FAA introduces unworkable drone registration rules in time for Christmas

John Robson
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Re: Lohan loophole

"It still has mass but I stick with the -ve weight"

It has positive weight, but the air it displaced has a greater positive weight. With most objects you don't need to consider the mass of the displaced fluid.

Take a supertanker - does it become weightless when placed on water?

No, it still weighs alot, but it is supported by the water around it.

LOHAN still weighs what it did before, but it's supported by the air around it.

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John Robson
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Re: Lohan loophole

It's weight is still positive, it's just lower than the weight of the air it has displaced... it has bouyancy, but it still has weight.

Sorry...

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Tablet computer zoom error saw plane fly 13 hours with 46cm hole

John Robson
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Re: Goooooooo Bill

"Er yes they would if you bothered to read what I wrote. If a car had a fault such that visibility was impeded or the brakes didn't apply quickly enough then the manufacturer shares some of the blame for any accident that those flaws contributed to."

Actually - you said design, not fault.

If the brakes failed at that instant then you get to share the blame with someone - but that's why there are two braking systems, so that you never have total failure at one instant.

If there was only one braking circuit, and the master cylinder exploded then I'd start to blame manufacture...

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John Robson
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Re: Goooooooo Bill

"That depends if the design of the vehicle / controls contributed to the accident doesn't it? If you couldn't see the dog because the driver's position had poor visibility, or because the brakes took too long to respond then yes Ford would have some blame to share for the accident"

No - they wouldn't

Both of those things should be in the experience of the driver - and they should be accomodating them.

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Brit 'naut Tim Peake thunders aloft

John Robson
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Good to watch...

Hadn't really appreciated that my mistakes in KSP (hot staging) were a real technique

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Samba man 'Tridge' accidentally helps to sink request for Oz voteware source code

John Robson
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Re: Complex? It's an STV election...

I was actually going for paper and pencil...

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John Robson
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Re: Complex? It's an STV election...

Hence the paper element of the ballot.

The paper ballots can be read rather quickly by the machine, and then passed on to the human team, who can confirm the ballot over the course of the next couple of days.

There are existing mechanisms to prevent ballot box stuffing, and the ability of the machines to highlight "unusual" ballot patterns could be of interest here...

In general we are very good at looking after liitle bits of paper - and understand the security of physical objects quite well, whereas in the digital domain it's very much less well understood (and therefore less well trusted) by the vast majority of people.

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John Robson
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Complex? It's an STV election...

Is it just me that doesn't think that this is a complex scenario?

I could design a ballot paper that would be human readable, and therefore easily verifiable, as well as machine readable, and therefore able to be loaded to the dB quickly.

It's not a complex problem to solve - although I'm not quite sure I understand the concept of using a lower choice vote for people who have voted for an already "Quota'd" candidate... Whose votes do you use - or do you use them all pro rated to the "excess votes" of the primary candidate.

So if I vote for someone popular I get 1 and a bit votes?

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VDI comes to the Raspberry Pi

John Robson
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Re: if SD card is a "risk"

"The PiZero doesn't have an Ethernet port. You'd have to adapt one or a wireless add-on connection via a USB port. For that cost, you've come up to the price of a Pi2 with way more power, so it hardly seems worth it for a PiZero."

I know it doesn't - and I know it only has one USB port - but with USB OTG hub+Ethernet adaptors available for < $4 I suspect we can still come in at ~$10 for the electronics.

And I'm aware that this will increase the power budget, but the power budget isn't really an issue in most cases - what will be powering the monitor for instance?

I'd really like to see a Pi based machine in a Psion5 case with a modern touch screen.

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John Robson
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Re: if SD card is a "risk"

"Congratulations. You've reinvented the 21st century Commodore 64..."

That was roughly the aim... (The exact aim was the BBC micro)

The form factor makes some significant amount of sense, given the power we can pack into tiny computers nowadays.

Heck, a couple of AA battery compartments on the back wouldn't go amiss either...

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John Robson
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Re: Woot

I currently use a citrix solution over a 54Mb/s wireless connection in the office. It's fine.

I also frequently use VNC (running in an XVFB) over IPSec to a data centre on the continent - and guess what, that's fine too.

Sure I wouldn't want to stream video on it, but then again the machine it's running on is somewhat underpowered for that anyway.

For most things I can't tell the difference between 10ms latency and 10 us latency - my ears probably could, 10ms is right in the Hass effect "limit" range, and is a useful rule of thumb when doing audio installation designs.

But on a computer - no chance

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John Robson
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if SD card is a "risk"

Then that's the first custom version - 5k of these with a small on board storage module - maybe accessed by some magic (jumper shorting) of the input power cable...

Given that this is clearly a bulk application - Monitors/keyboards with USB hubs used to be common place, I'm sure that 5k of them with a WiFi dongle, or preferably an ethernet port, wouldn't be prohibitively expensive - a Pi Zero (2) (yes I know) would be a great little central piece...

Keyboard with a few ports on the back:

- USB power in

- HDMI out

- USB out marked "Mouse"

- Spare USB out

- Ethernet port

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How to build a real lightsabre

John Robson
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Re: Do not try this at home kids...

I've always assumed that blaster shots are much like the air packets from an airzooka...

First four seconds of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyMKhM1yxnE

The air is moving pretty fast, but mostly in a torus, so the actual smoke ring progresses slowly, but retains it's integrity...

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Microsoft extends Internet Explorer 8 desktop lifeline to upgrade laggards

John Robson
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Really...

"Microsoft negotiated a volume discount.."

There's the problem - the gubbinment should have been negotiating...

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Microsoft beats Apple's tablet sales, apologises for Surface 4 flaws

John Robson
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Re: More Microsoft marketing lies...so silly.

"Microsoft Surface beating Apple iPad ? More units sold? What?

It never happened. Just never."

Two reasons it could have happenned:

- They chose the release month of the shiny shiny from MS, which is a a mid-cycle month for Apple.

So there is an "early adopter" bump in the MS figures and a normal replacement month for Apple.

- The normal replacement cycle for Apple devices is somewhat longer than for MS (no evidence presented or needed for this theory).

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All eyes on the jailbroken as iOS, Mac OS X threat level ratchets up

John Robson
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Re: This oculd be due to the popularity of windows...

"Perhaps you meant "VMS and BSD", but that does undermine your argument a little. There hasn't been any DOS in Microsoft's OS products since Windows XP came out, whenever that was (I was still Mac-only in those days). The NT kernel was modelled on VMS.

I use both OSes daily. There really is no difference in privilege escalation between OSX and Windows. Processes simply cannot get above their station anymore on either OS, and must ask the user for the permissions they seek."

Yes - but I couldn't remember VMS offhand, and DOS was a more polarised difference...

Priviledge escalation is possible on any OS:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07/22/os_x_root_hole/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/14/critical_linux_bug/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/24/killer_character_hoses_smallalmostsmall_all_versions_of_reader_windows/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/14/freebsd_security_bug/

Just the top links from a google search of priv esc against the register domain for the mostly discussed OSes (yes I know netBSD != FreeBSD, I only searched BSD)

Of course it is far easier to ask for the rights from the user - who usually doesn't understand what's hapening and has been trained to "click yes if you want the computer to work"

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John Robson
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This oculd be due to the popularity of windows...

Or it might be due to the fundamentally different starting points of DOS and BSD

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Boffins teach cars to listen for the sound of a wet road

John Robson
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Re: What the what?

"Question: How do you KNOW you're close to the physical capabilities of your car at that given moment?"

Because I've done various amounts of driver training, including skid pan sessions. I also have eyes and ears, and choose to drive *well within* the capability of the car and road in front of me, it's not a race.

"I'd rather arrive 5 minutes late in this world than 50 years early in the next..."

Most mechanical devices will give you feedback as you approach the limit - for instance tyres start squirming (and the traction available actually increases up to a certain slip angle).

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John Robson
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Re: What the what?

"Every car that passed it altered the conditions of the road by driving through it."

Yes - but not to the extent of making a dry road wet.

If you are driving *that* close to the edge of the physical capabilities of your car then get the hell off the road and onto a track where 'getting it wrong' doesn't have the potential to kill bystanders (yes marshals occasionally get killed, but they're made aware of that risk when they sign up)

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John Robson
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Re: What the what?

As opposed to being due to drivers not driving to the conditions in front of them...

Wet roads don't cause crashes - they are the same for everyone, and all the cars in front of you managed to get past it...

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Spotify mulls Swift change of policy – we can stream Taylor, but we'll charge

John Robson
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Re: Real sample of revenue for you

I can understand why they'd like the higher royalty rate.. but is that for a song, or for an entire catalogue of 40 years of music.

The point being that you can reasonably expect that to be a continuous stream of income, generally increasing as your catalogue grows? And there is no further cost - yes I do get the cost of getting to that stage needs to be recouped, but...

I'll also suggest that it isn't the artists sole revenue stream. It's not as if the CD sales are zero since spotify, or the concerts have noone at them...

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Motorola splashes £817m buying out police comms biz Airwave

John Robson
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@TeeCee

I doubt that the VoLTE requirement was put in for Airwave's benefit. The emergency services customers rely on various features of TETRA that are not available on LTE - that is a serious risk, not just a procedural change.

These are not mobile phones, they are not used for pure point to point conversations - and the timing requirements for TETRA are quite tight - you don't press a button and wait ten seconds before you can start a conversation.

That sort of thing can be really important if you are under attack, or in a burning building, so it isn't "most of the time", it's "all the time".

Similarly a call for help will be heard by many local officers as well as the control room - allowing someone who is just around the corner to respond without delay.

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Is ATM security threatened by Windows XP support cutoff? Well, yes, but …

John Robson
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Nearly - but if I had a zero day on XP embedded in my pocket now I woulnd't use it for a couple of weeks.

Then I know that if it still works it will always work. AND I can also check the patches issued for whatever followed WinXP Embedded to see if the flaws fixed also existed in the older OS - and again, I know they won't be patched.

The opportunities for exploit are much higher if I know that the systems will never be patched.

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