* Posts by John Robson

1586 posts • joined 19 May 2008

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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'Unikernels will send us back to the DOS era' – DTrace guru Bryan Cantrill speaks out

John Robson
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Containers...

If you are spinning up a set of instance for a specific task, then does the occasional instance failure matter?

I mean I'm with him on the debugging thing - it would be nice to know that bad data was the cause of the crash - but in the case of spinning up instances is there not an argument that:

a) efficiency of spinup is more important than normal

b) reliability is less so

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Apple growth flatlines ... Tim Cook thinks, hey, $80bn is still $80bn

John Robson
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Da Weezil - Ive never understood these business wonks that expect continual growth. Out of a total market there is finite number of the population that will want a product (obvious exclusions apply for water/power etc) for whatever reason

No exclusion needed - water/power/air are still only needed by a finite number of the population - it's just a proportion that approaches 100%.

And surprisingly when they have siad things, they won't pay for new pipes until the old ones fail in some way...

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Amazon cloud increasingly powered by hot air

John Robson
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"I dont know the exact loss rate of lines running from Indiana to Virginia, but I would bet if thats where the power was really going you would be losing over 50%...the real answer is its fed into the grid, and they are offset for what the farm they own generates."

Grids run at high voltage precicely to reduce the long distance transmission losses - US losses are about 6.5% (very small change 1997-2007, so I assume it's still about that

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John Robson
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Re: Quick sum...

But that's the normalised *demand* - not the normalised capacity.

I am working on the assumption that windmills just throw everything they can at the grid...

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John Robson
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Quick sum...

The 150 megawatt facility on Fowler Ridge in Benton County, Indiana starting pumping out electrons on the first of January when it made over “1.1 million kilowatt-hours of renewable electricity.”

https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=150MW*24h&meta=&safe=active&gws_rd=ssl#safe=active&hl=en&q=150MW*24+hours+in+kwh

3.6 million kWh

So it's running at <30% nominal load, which seems about typical.

Why don't they just call it a 50MW facility?

EIT: Actually seems to be quite high!

The normalised load factor for UK onshore wind farms declines from a peak of about 24% at

age 1 to 15% at age 10 and 11% at age 15. The decline in the normalised load factor for Danish

onshore wind farms is slower but still significant with a fall from a peak of 22% to 18% at age 15.

On the other hand for offshore wind farms in Denmark the normalised load factor falls from

39% at age 0 to 15% at age 10.

From http://www.ref.org.uk/attachments/article/280/ref.hughes.19.12.12.pdf

Of course not having to deal with the humidty and sea air of northernm europe probably helps.

Maybe it should be called a 20%150MW farm?

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Police Scotland will have direct access to disabled parking badge database

John Robson
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Re: Also Parent and Child bays

My kids are fine - they were on reins for a large part of toddlerdom. But there is always that interval between getting them out of the car seat and putting the reins on - particularly when you're doing child 2, child 1 being held in the other hand...

I also have no issue shouting when required, and it still works ;)

But I also am aware of the ridiculous speeds some people seem to think are necessary in a car park, and with mostly obscured sight lines to everywhere a secure route from those places to the store isn't a hard thing to provide.

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John Robson
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Re: Also Parent and Child bays

@AC - I really can't see the need for parent and child spaces at all and certainly not nearer than the disabled spaces which are often used by people who can only walk very short distances.

Well, when you have kids that you have to put into a car seat and can't open the door more than a fraction then you might appreciate them. As for reins, yes - my kids were on reins for a good while, and still get shouted at occasionally - but that doesn't stop me wanting to put another layer of safety in place. It's not hard to have P&C spaces accessible without battling idiots in cars..

As for distance - it happens that at my local supermarket the disabled bays are now 5m further away - I don't actually care about the distance, I care about the route. I'd be happy with remote P&C bays with a secure route (as I have seen at a number of stores).

I am happy for you that your children were all beautifully behaved and you had enough hands to hold all five of them whilst simultaneously carrying a weeks worth of shopping... but that's not reality for most people.

Personally I'm now right at the edge of needing those bays - the kids can climb in, but they can't yet do up their belts, so I do need to open the door far enough to lean across them and clunk-click...

Not long before they can do that though - they can certainly undo them themselves (yes they always ask first)

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John Robson
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Re: Also Parent and Child bays

More importantly the P&C bays are often not adjacent to the store - there is usually at least one "road" to cross (I put road in quotes because there seem to be a significant minority who think it's a racetrack)

Most disabled people I know are perfectly capable of crossing a road safely - albeit slowly.

Most toddlers are not - and they can do so at high speed.

To be fair to the supermarket I use now - they are much better and have reversed the usual arrangement, so the P&C bays are against the building, and the disabled bays are a full 5 metres further away - I know that 5m can be significant, b ut given the variation in distance between the closest and furthest bays is an order of magnitude larger....

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Watch: SpaceX Dragon capsule breathes fire during crucial hover test

John Robson
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Re: Parachutes = Good.

TITSUP mode on the rockets is all well and good - but at just a few m above the surface there isn't actually enough time to deploy a chute.

The chute is there in case you use the landing engines to escape a failing rocket at launch

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John Robson
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Re: Parachutes = Good.

Parachutes are good.

But there is a chance that rockets might be better.

Certainly better control available with rockets...

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Boeing just about gives up on the 747

John Robson
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Re: "That was in the days where the child flyer was spoiled"

" I was only asked to go back to my seat as we were on finals at Gatwick, some three hours later."

When I was a lad I visited the cockpit (with my brother) on a short hop from Nice to LHR.

Whilst we were in there the pilots had a call over the radio - and said "You - pull that seat out, you, sit there. Both of you strap in".

They put the seatbelt lights on and called for a stewardess (as they were) and sent a message back to our parents that they had been given an short landing window and we'd be stuck there until we'd landed.

That was fun!

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Fears of fiber cable cuts, rogue drones menacing crowds at Super Bowl 50

John Robson
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Re: There isn't an acceptable terrorism loss rate...

"So you believe that terrorism is just another form of crime? Sorry but that's incorrect. Terrorism is an act that attempts to instill terror in a population "

So you are giving them the victory?

Ignore them, they are an insignificant threat compared with those we have decided are "normal" and acceptable.

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John Robson
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Re: More groundless fear-mongering from an Agency that stages 'terrorism'

"Spare us your 'statistics', okay? There isn't an acceptable terrorism loss rate no matter what you personally believe."

Yet there is an acceptable automobile related death rate?

And an acceptable gunshot death rate?

Terrorists are so low down on the actual threat list for human lives/health that they really shouldn't be significantly considered.

Of course if the fibre gets cut and someone is streaming online from a remote control aircraft... then all hell will break loose - no ad breaks, how are the players going to get their rests?

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Blighty's Parliament prescribed tablets to cope with future votes

John Robson
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A tablet - for a vote?

Really?

A cross on a bit of paper is too hard?

For the cost of this system I'll even help the employment figures, we can employ someone to count those bits of paper...

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Pentagon fastens lasers to military drones to zap missiles out of the skies

John Robson
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Re: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's a UAV circling over my missile silo.

And of course you wouldn't open fire with the SAM until you wanted to launch the ICBM...

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Space podule outfit inks Arizona launch deal

John Robson
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a few pumps and cylinders could be added

To bring the helium back again - but then you'd probably have to lose a passenger (or the pilot)

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NASA rockets datasets into Amazon’s cloud with Avere

John Robson
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Re: Exsqueeze me?

You know what - they might have done the sums on this one...

And they might have a pretty good handle on the data that they are shifting - they've been doing it long enough.

I'll wait and see, but of all the "move it to the cloud to save money" stories we see - this is the one of the few cases I can see being well researched.

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For fsck's SAKKE: GCHQ-built phone voice encryption has massive backdoor – researcher

John Robson
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Re: They all have the same flaw...

It's VoIP - That rather implies an IP connection, so why not use an out of band crypto key exchange?

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Russian Pastafarian wins right to bear colander

John Robson
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FAIL

Re: Fighting talk!

@Goit - "Another anonymoron"

Yes, I'm clearly anonymous... That's why I have the AC icon and the name Anonymous Coward...

An Atheist is claiming that there is no such thing as a God - not that they doubt it.

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John Robson
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Re: Fighting talk!

"You are asking to prove a negative. It simply doesn't need to be done. FAIL"

Why would that not need to be done.

I can't just declare that I don't believe my tax bill, or overdraft statement.

If I really think they aren't valid then I need to demonstrate that.

Atheism is a faith position.

Apathy is not - although many people won't want to admit that they are apathetic rather than atheist...

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El Reg mulls entering Robot Wars arena

John Robson
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Depends on the rules...

There used to be different weight limits for power sources.

Best of the earlier series from my memory:

Casius (the original flipper IIRC)

Razor (ridiculously damaging claw)

Hypnodisc (Deciding that power wasn't everthing if you can build some energy in a weapon)

Before HD came out I had started to settle on a chinook style hypnodisc-esque weapons system because building energy in a flywheel was always the most obvious way to inflict damage.

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Huffing and puffing Intel needs new diet of chips if it's to stay in shape

John Robson
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Re: IoT

"What IoT systems do you know have passwords longer than 8 characters? ;-)"

None - but my point was more directed at the more data centres than the password...

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John Robson
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IoT

Doesn't that really mean more data centres for all the centrally accessible personal data hidden behind the password: "Password123"

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Ground control to Major Tim! Brit's spacewalk halted after NASA 'naut takes unexpected leak

John Robson
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Re: Thicko me

Although also cooling them down from their own extertions - they can't lose any heat by convection or conduction, and they are exerting themselves quite significantly!

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Google API spring cleaning ends after four and a half years

John Robson
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18 months

is a decent grace period for all the non-professional users of the API...

It make life much easier, and really costs very little (assuming that the API is monitored for abuse)...

So you end up with much happier tech savvy users, who then encourage other people to use your advert generator^W^W search engine

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World Bank: What do the poor need – clean water, or email ... take a guess

John Robson
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You say "of course"

I'm not sure that's always something you can reasonably assume.

It is in many areas, but not everywhere...

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Evil OpenSSH servers can steal your private login keys to other systems – patch now

John Robson
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Private key on the server???

Wha'

Why is it ever transmitted - surely the appropriate way to do auth forwarding (which is useful) is for the server to pass the auth requests back to the client (which may pass them back to the next client etc.) until it's at the machine with the private key

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Aircraft now so automated pilots have forgotten how to fly

John Robson
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Re: A bit of editing might be useful...

The issue with that analogy - and the analogy is being discussed - is that drivers aren't nearly as well trained, or continuously assesssed, as pilots, and there is always a safe position available: stopped! That isn't possible with aircraft.

The issue on the roads is that there are a large number of people who massively overestimate their own skills, and the damage they cause is frequently to those outside their vehicle....

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TalkTalk outage: Dial M for Major cockup

John Robson
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Re: Gone but not forgotten

Just talk to you rank and recall the monies.

The DD guarantee is good at times...

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Council of Europe gets tough on net neutrality

John Robson
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The two services (residential and commercial) would have been sold with different traffic management policies - so that's fine.

What I find slightly odd is that they can't now traffic manage - for instance - P2P download traffic to be of a lower priority than VoIP traffic.

That's basic QoS management, and appears to be banned under these rules.

I am absolutely with them that no one VoIP provider should be preferred over any other, nor should one streaming audio provider be favoured over any other, nor should any streaming video provider be favoured over any other, no HTTP(s) source.... no BT source...

But the idea of prioritising VoIP and streaming over HTTP(s) over BT is a sane method of traffic management IMHO.

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We know this isn't about PRISM, Matt Warman MP. But do you?

John Robson
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Why would he get it - he's a politician...

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Sigh ... c'est la vie: France mulls mandatory encryption backdoors

John Robson
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Access to the hardware...

Certainly - here is the hardware...

What do you mean you can't access it - it's in your hands?

No I can't unlock it for you...

No, that's software, not hardware....

Godbye.

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Kentucky spies stricken: Ban on web snaps of horror accidents mulled

John Robson
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Re: Attack on free speech?

I'm not convinced this is an attack on free speech - you're free to post said pictures (if you still think it is in good taste) after an hour - but you allow an amount of time for the families to be notified in the proper manner.

It's an hour, not a week, and certainly not "never".

I'd go with the victim exclusion, but I can't see why the "professional" media should be any different, nor first responders (although they might want to email it to the paramedics, but I would guess that facebook isn't the way they do that) - stuff still hurtles around (anti-)social media pretty fast - wherever it was taken from.

A location and a stock photo would be adequate for the news media for the first hour...

Of course legislating for sense is never going to work...

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SpaceX makes rocket science look easy: Falcon 9 passes tests

John Robson
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Re: would be thrilled to see

Cross feeding is also called Asparagus staging in KSP - and is a remarkably good way of getting stuff off the ground.

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John Robson
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Re: How many times?

"But if you're going to be sitting on top of it... do you trust it?

I for one would love to know..."

As opposed to:

"sitting on top of two million parts -- all built by the lowest bidder on a government contract."

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

(Yes, this is a repeated response, to a repeated question in a different thread)

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Discworld fans stake claim to element 117

John Robson
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Are you saying that Discwolrd doesn't have a mythological basis?

It might be modern, but it's still myth:

Myth - from the Greek word mythos (μύθος), which simply means "story".

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Live-streaming paper plane drone takes to the skies

John Robson
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Having been lent a 3.0

These are really good fun, but you need plenty of space...

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Reverser laments crypto game protection, says wares dead after 2018

John Robson
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Re: A month.

So if they are looking for a month's protection - why not say that, and release the keys after some amount of time - a year maybe?

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The designer of the IBM ThinkPad has died

John Robson
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Typing on one now....

Well, the Lenovo version...

Got two in the loft at home, and a docking station...

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

John Robson
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Re: Optional

It came from the "remote control via pocket computer"

There isn't any indication that any of the comms are encrypted and there is a tendency in devices nowadays to be WiFi only - often not a recent version, forcing all devices to drop to a lower standard...

That this has ethernet is one good point IMHO - of course the rest of the security is still needed

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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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LogMeIn adds emergency break-in feature to LastPass

John Robson
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Re: why trust a third party?

That server - it ought to be Sftp ;)

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HaLow, is it me you're hacking for? Wi-Fi standard for IoT emitted

John Robson
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1km

Hmm - at what kind of data rates - I could do with this an an option, cheaper than a 3G contract to send a continuous 128kBit stream, and with a 1km range I could find an appropriate friendly fixed line to use...

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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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