* Posts by Neil Barnes

2768 posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

Video service Binge On 'broke the internet' but 99pc of users love it

Neil Barnes
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Reminds me of twenty years ago...

One of the big US carriers - Yahoo perhaps? - saved data by compressing all images on a web page significantly. In those days of dial-up, it saved a lot of time, and you could generally still see what the image was, if you squinted... there was the option to turn it off if you wanted to see more detail in the image, but I suspect many never did.

Equally I doubt many will disable this. It's like the old VHS formats: they quality of the image was *terrible* particularly with regard to colour resolution but people would cheerfully watch it even though better systems - even better domestic tape systems - were available.

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TV industry gets its own 'dieselgate' over 'leccy consumption tests

Neil Barnes
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It's not difficult.

Place television in a selection of homes.

Add energy measuring box.

Leave for a week.

Count energy.

Average.

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Google's Allo chat app hits a downside to AI: Bot must hoard private messages to train itself

Neil Barnes
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So this thing wants to learn all about me

so it can pretend to be me?

Can't see that ending well...

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Lethal 4-hour-erection-causing spiders spill out of bunch of ASDA bananas

Neil Barnes
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Angel

Jibbers Crabst

So many posts and no mention of Jibbers Crabst?

http://theoatmeal.com/blog/jibbers_crabst

(the appropriate segment starts around five minutes in. Watch the translator...)

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Android Studio 2.2 debuts

Neil Barnes
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Does it have an API

Whereby all applications have access to everything automatically, whether there is a logical reason for them having access or not?

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Pluto's emitting X-rays, and NASA doesn't quite know how

Neil Barnes
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Re: Star Surgeon

Upvoted for the Sector General reference!

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Neil Barnes
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Alien

Obvious really

Something is decelerating really hard from relativistic speeds, and it thinks it's hiding from us behind Pluto...

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HP Inc's rinky-dink ink stink: Unofficial cartridges, official refills spurned by printer DRM

Neil Barnes
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The odd thing is

that my ancient Brother laser printer keeps on chugging away, printing its few dozen sheets a month on a generic replacement toner unit (the first lasted about five years) - and running an HP driver.

Meanwhile, my venerable - mid eighties - HP11C calculator is still cheerfully doing the business.

HP used to be the go-to company if you wanted reliability and longevity; it seems this has changed.

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Is Tesla telling us the truth over autopilot spat?

Neil Barnes
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Re: We are not liable for...

Nonetheless, one might not be terribly happy getting into a car which comes with the sort of licence most software seems to: "This XXX is not guaranteed to operate correctly or even at all..."

It seems to me that cars are suffering the same feeping creaturism that software products do; no-one actually *uses* a particular feature, but it ticks a box for a reviewer, so we'll stick it in. And then another, and another...

What you need in a car is some suspension, steering, engine, and a chassis/body. All mature technologies which can be implemented without *any* electronics (I ignore engine control systems for the sake of argument; they're not essential except by legislation). But then someone comes along and things a cruise control would be nice, and someone else thinks it would be nice if it matched speed to the car in front, and then a system that knows the speed limit, and then one that can take avoiding action if the car in front does something silly, and then, and then, and then... before you know it you've somehow acquired an autopilot - which may or may not work quite as intended.

Tesla needs to decide whether it's in the car making business or the autopilot business. They're not the same, and I hope they decide for the former - electric cars with a decent range are an excellent idea if only because the pollution they cause is probably easier to deal with in bulk. But if I don't want to drive myself, there's still taxis, trains, buses, professional chauffeurs... I don't think that the autopilot is finished until it can do a drive through a city centre at rush hour *and* a trip through the mountains. Until then, hands on the wheel please.

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NASA starts countdown for Cassini probe's Saturn death dive

Neil Barnes
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Alien

Re: Legacy

But recall the last three sad lines of that poem:

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

We might prefer the slightly more up-beat ending of Horace Smith's version:

He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess

What powerful but unrecorded race

Once dwelt in that annihilated place.

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Dark web drug sellers shutter location-tracking EXIF data from photos

Neil Barnes
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Re: where a photograph was taken

Hmm. I wonder what the exif shows on a mobile phone image with location services turned off?

"Location services must be turned on in high resolution" <-- bets?

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IPv4 apocalypse means we just can't measure the internet any more

Neil Barnes
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Holmes

Re: And who told you I want to be measured?

I'm just wondering if the chainsaw will have an IPv6 address...

As others have said, there seems no rational reason why a domestic - or indeed a commercial - firewall can't be v6 on the outside and NAT v4 on the inside. There seems to my admittedly self-centred privacy-minded viewpoint exactly no advantages to v6 end-to-endness other than endpoint availability - which is a largely solved problem by NAT as far as I can see.

One might even postulate a v4 DMZ and a v6 DMZ sticking out of the same box, for those amazingly rare occasions when we might want to run an internet facing service.

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33 million CLEARTEXT creds for Russian IM site dumped by chap behind Last.FM mess

Neil Barnes
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Irrespective of the strength of passwords

Or indeed the number of them... life would be a *lot* simpler if so many of the retail sites didn't decide we needed a password and login for *everything*.

I'm going to buy something, right? So you need - short term - my name and postal address, and a credit card number. But once the stuff is posted to me, or you receive confirmation from your shippers, you can securely delete that stuff. If I want to buy something else, hey, I still know my address; I don't need you to remember it for me... and that way we don't end up in the ridiculous situation that I'm trying to buy something years later, can't recall the original password, and can't change log in again because 'that username already exists'.

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Airbag bug forces GM to recall 4.3m vehicles – but eh, how about those self-driving cars, huh?

Neil Barnes
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Coat

Re: "already been blamed for one fatal crash and three others involving serious injuries"

Well, I was wondering... if it were prone to exploding at random times, then yes, it should be fixed ASAP, but an airbag that doesn't go off is just the same as not having one.

1) the airbag was introduced because large populations of drivers were apparently unable to use an existing well-tested solution: the seat belt.

2) airbags go off in a front impact. How often have you had one of those? How often have your airbags gone off? If someone drives into you, they're almost certainly going to do it at a combined speed which would render the passenger cell useless anyway, and if you drive into someone else you should have been paying better attention.

A technological solution for idiocy? It merely allows idiots to breed better idiots!

--> the flameproof one...

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Star Trek's Enterprise turns 50 and still no sign of a warp drive. Sigh

Neil Barnes
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Alien

The Mote in God's Eye

Incoming spaceship propelled by remote lasers? The view from Alpha Centauri is going to be spectactular, for a few minutes...

Just watch out for Moties.

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Scientists' sneaky smartphone software steals 3D printer designs

Neil Barnes
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Pirate

Well, the traditional approach

would be to buy the opposition's part once it's available and then take it to bits to see how it ticks.

In my job, most of what happens in the additive printing shops is SLS and SLA prototypes, to see if the 3-d software knew what it was talking about. The manufacture is in a plastics factory in the far east.

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Forget Khan and Klingons, Star Trek's greatest trick was simply surviving

Neil Barnes
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Re: Huh?

I think it was Stan Schmidt at Analog who basically defined it as 'if you take the science away, and it still works as a story, it wasn't science fiction'.

But I would have liked to have seen some of the Lensman series on film...

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Brave idea: Ex Mozilla man punts Bitcoin adblocking browser

Neil Barnes
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Flame

Re: Opt in rather than creep out

I wouldn't even go that far.

If I want something, I will research it. If I'm not looking for anything, why on earth would I want to see the adverts? And in particular: I've just bought a fridge - why on earth would I want another? I've just bought a set of shock absorbers for my car - why would I want (a) more shocks for my car or (b) shocks for any other car?

I hate to break it to the advertisers, but my browsing habits are a guide to neither my purchasing desires or purchasing intents. In spite of what their robots might thing.

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Neil Barnes
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Paris Hilton

'Taint gonna work...

For all the reasons listed above, but mostly because the value of a single viewer to a site is some generally unknown but tiny amount.

E.g Facebook: 1.7B users, $18B - ten bucks a body. And how many site visits is that? Might we guess (observing colleagues) ten or more views a day? Three cents a day, a third of a cent a view, and probably much much less.

People seem happy to put up with all the disadvantages of advertising, particularly when a site has the utility that FB offers to some - are they really going to go through the further hassle of calculating and paying what it actually costs? And what about the clickbait sites? They have no practical use at all... what would you pay for them?

As for the number of pay sites that want a few quid a week... nah, it isn't going to work.

(I'd be interested to know what El Reg's income/users is.)

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What wedding cake would an engineer make? A LEGO one

Neil Barnes
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Re: Hmm

Saw an advert, in the days of post-cards in the newsagents' windows: For sale, wedding cake, unused at the last minute. Two tiers...

Never did work out whether the pun was intentional.

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Kindle Paperwhites turn Windows 10 PCs into paperweights: Plugging one in 'triggers a BSOD'

Neil Barnes
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Re: Drivers everywhere

You have moved the mouse. Windows must now restart.

There's a reason I'm friends with the penguin.

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DVLA misses out on £400m in tax after scrapping paper discs

Neil Barnes
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Re: Easy to account.

Indeed. I do the same with my classic car.

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My headset is reading my mind and talking behind my back

Neil Barnes
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Boffin

Re: Actually, Dabbsey hasn't lost a bit of weight

Subtle...

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Adblock Plus chalk talk takes stock: Facebook's gonna block our block of their block of our block? Let's rock

Neil Barnes
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Re: Not in the least bit surprised...

It's not an ad-supported business model. It's an ad-selling business model. The social networky bits are merely the mechanism Zuckerberg has chosen to get rich. It's no different from soap companies making TV soap opera in the forties and fifties.

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Robo-buses join the traffic in Helsinki

Neil Barnes
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Coat

I'm guessing these need a crew of two plus a dog?

One driver to push the big red button in case of a (very slow) emergency; one dog to bite the driver if he tries to do anything else; and one man to feed the dog.

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Ad-blocking ‘plateaus’, claims hopeful ad industry

Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

Re: Ad-blocking 'plateaus'

IT may be a legitimate feature, but none-the-less, verbing wierds nouns.

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We're going to bring an asteroid fragment into Lunar orbit

Neil Barnes
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Re: Giving Skynet an Asteroid to Drop on Us?

@ Trevor - They're taking them to the moon, right? And the moon is, of course, a harsh mistress?

"Mike: But we can throw rocks at Earth, Man. We will."

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Adblock Plus blocks Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook ads

Neil Barnes
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The part that says 'but then we'd have no money, and Zuckerberg would have to eat bread and jam like the rest of us."

Somehow, the advertisers have brainwashed huge chunks of the internet industry into the weird idea that the only way to fund anything is through advertising. They manage to peddle this bizarre concept *even though* what they are selling is end users who, on the whole, actually make things, and sell them. Y'know, for cash.

The argument might be made that people won't pay for services - to which the response is: the service is either not good enough, or too expensive.

Isn't it curious that the vast majority of adverts come from clickbait sites? You don't see adverts on the retailer's sites (apart from 'people who bought this also bought); they're up front and they want to sell you *stuff* - their stuff. Not random tat...

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Adblock Plus blocks Facebook's ad-blocker buster: It's a block party!

Neil Barnes
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Re: Blunt Instrument

It's not that FB *needs* money. It's just that they've decided the way to *get* money is by selling advertising space (and your viewing habits). They're not in the business of enabling communication between people; they're in the business of making money and enabling communication is the way they've decided to do it.

A moment's googling reveals FB has 1.7 billion users and a profit last year of 15 billion dollars - a user is worth, on average, just under ten bucks to FB.

Is an advert-free FB worth ten bucks a year to you? Then hassle FB to pay for it directly.

Much as I dislike advertising (and I'm not an FB user; it's not worth ten bucks to me) I can't criticise FB for using it to fund themselves. I *can* criticise the way the advertisers in general behave... but the thing to remember is that FB is a way to make Zuckerberg rich, not a way to let granny know what you're up to. If he finds a better way, he'll use it. Using advertising blockers is a good way to suggest to him that he might want to start looking.

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Idiot flies drone alongside Flybe jet landing at Newquay Airport

Neil Barnes
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Black Helicopters

Re: Risk?

Bloody painful, too, if it (a) gets you in the chest and (b) you happen to be flying a paraglider at the time.

Been there, done that, got the bruises. But I'd rather meet a pheasant than a drone.

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Funny story, this. UK.gov's 'open banking app revolution'. Security experts not a fan of it

Neil Barnes
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Windows

Re: I'm all for online banking...

I'm still waiting for them to explain how changing banks - where I've been for over forty years - will save me money. Given that I don't borrow money from the bank, don't run overdrafts, or take any other paid service.

I give them money once a month, they give it back to me a bit at a time. On rare occasions they may even add a few pennies to the account, but that's about all I expect.

There will be a letter written to the bank shortly, saying basically, don't do it with my account.

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Jeep hackers: How we swerved past Chrysler's car security patches

Neil Barnes
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Pirate

Mine uses...

a connection at 430THz, and all it does is unlock the doors... good luck with that one guys.

Remind me again why it's a good idea to have things telling the steering which way to turn?

(Although to be fair, hardening the external connectivity is at least a step in the right direction.)

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Windows 10: Happy with Anniversary Update?

Neil Barnes
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Re: Then the "experienced" W10 user showed me the path to power-down

But why would you ever want to shut down an OS? At best, put it to sleep. I like to start where I left off last night, and there's no need to turn it off - irrespective of how quickly it wakes up, it wakes up to an empty desktop. Unless W10 now has this behaviour?

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Firefox to banish hidden Flash files – and kill off sneaky ad snoopers

Neil Barnes
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Re: BBC video still Flash here

So... changed the user agent to iphone and suddenly both BBC news video and pre-recorded radio worked. Couldn't make live radio work, nor TV iplayer...

This is bloody ridiculous.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Re BBC

I worked for the firm for thirty-odd years, *and* I did some (project, not code) work on the radio iplayer six years ago. I'm going to be bloody furious if they don't get their act together sometime soon.

I wonder if its because of all these 'smart' TVs whose browsers can't be updated and are restricted to flash?

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Neil Barnes
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Holmes

Re: BBC

Same here; linux box with no flash installed. "Install Flash Player" for any news video, same for three random iplayer things from last night - complaining that they can't be played on the html5 beta - and the the same on a random thing from Radio 4. Listen live just sits there loading for ever and ever...

C'mon guys, it's not *that* difficult. If Youtube can do it, I'm sure you can.

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What will laws on self-driving cars look like? Think black boxes and 'minimum attention'

Neil Barnes
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I suspect there is something to be said

given the requirement for an alert driver, for a control system which steps in if and only if the driver is driving like an utter dickhead...

I'm not at all sure how this might be phased in; it seems that you need either full control or pretty much none. A cruise control saves my ankle, but I still need to steer and brake, and as a result to be alert and aware of what's going on around me. When it does, say, steering and lane control and emergency action and even something as simple as adaptive cruise control, what is left to keep me alert? Electric shocks through the seat?

For a long distance journey where you don't want to drive, take a train or a plane, or even an airship. For the two minute jaunt to the shops, why would you even *want* this sort of automation?

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UK's climate change dept abolished, but 'smart meters and all our policies strong as ever'

Neil Barnes
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Re: Smart meter, as in Smart TV !!

On the other hand, from an engineer's point of view - a truly smart meter should be able to locate and negotiate the best rate from suppliers on a minute to minute basis...

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Neil Barnes
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Re: 3% energy saving

I just got around to replacing some halogen bulbs in the living room - seven of them at 70W each - with seven 5.5W LED bulbs (they've finally got bright enough in the form factor we can live with) and at the same time four 50W halogens in the kitchen with four 4W bulbs... ok, there's still the fridge, oven, and washing machine, but I reckon I'm over 3% right there.

The person who manages my demand is *me*. The job of the power company is to calculate an average price for me which works for both them and me. This is called 'budgeting' and it seems to be a foreign concept to economists, who really ought to know better - they seem to work on the basis that price is the only driver when selecting whether and how much to use a service. I won't choose to sit in the dark because the power is expensive, or stop baking a loaf of bread half-way through, nor let the fridge warm up.

If the power companies aren't able to manage a peak demand, they need to get their act together and build some bloody nuclear power stations. I'll pay - over time.

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New Mars rover is GO for 2020 says NASA

Neil Barnes
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Obviously the first sounds will be...

"Where is the earth-shattering KABOOM? I wanted an earth-shattering KABOOM!"

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Africa's MeerKAT looks at the sky, surprises boffins with 1,300 galaxies

Neil Barnes
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Boffin

Re: Universe, life and everything

Quite right, and accordingly upvoted.

But also: Imagine that you're standing...

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Computers vs Ebola: Scientists use big data to predict future disease hotspots

Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

Bats have pups?

I thought they had bittens.

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Pokemon Go oh no no no, we're not reading your email, says gamemaker

Neil Barnes
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Re: How long

Think of it as evolution in action.

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Bloke 'lobbed molotov cocktails' at Street View car because Google was 'watching him'

Neil Barnes
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Re: Paranoia is when you think they're watching you...

Yeah, missed that. Sorry.

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Neil Barnes
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Paranoia is when you think they're watching you...

Alan Nelson... https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=8XmFCwAAQBAJ&pg=PA7&lpg=PA7&dq=narapoia+alan+nelson&source=bl&ots=A7_N_ZKVto&sig=3NYtRjz8zuEXu0Mx0lyg-A8JK6Q&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj-obXb0uDNAhUBqxoKHWZzAP4Q6AEIUjAJ#v=onepage&q=narapoia%20alan%20nelson&f=false

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UK.gov wants to fine websites £250,000 if teens watch porn vids

Neil Barnes
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And of course the funny thing is...

Each and every one of us - even members of parliament - is the descendent of a long line of ancestors, each and every one of whom chose to follow an interest in sex instead of denying it.

Had they not, we would not be.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware goes FULL SCREEN in final push

Neil Barnes
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Linux

It's those nasty penguin people

They've *ruined* it for MS, telling folk they can have good stuff FOR FREE!

And then when MS try and give it away, people still don't want it.

(Checks, ah yes, Mint 17.)

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Countdown to Jupiter: Juno just seven days from orbit

Neil Barnes
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Alien

...when it will get dropped onto the planet.

Poor thing. All that effort... at least it won't suffer like Spirit did on Mars. "Did I do a good job? Do I get to come home? Guys?"

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Medicos could be world's best security bypassers, study finds

Neil Barnes
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For Pete's sake

Every cash register in pretty much every pub in the country has a token login based on a physical widget attached to the operator with a bit of string.

It's not a difficult concept.

Make the same widget responsible for opening doors and doctors won't be able to lend theirs to others.

Of *course* doctors aren't going to sit down and remember passwords for a dozen different systems; they're busy doing doctor things. Security per se is something that gets in their way and like any other human they'll do their best to avoid it. But an ID card in a slot not only provides access to systems but provides an automatic logout. Sure, it's not as secure as a widget *and* a password, but how secure is it now? The primary driver here is access to the records of the patient the doctor is treating *now*.

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I want to learn about gamification but all I see is same-ification

Neil Barnes
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I just bought Snakes and Ladders for granddaughter.

On a proper cardboard board, with genuine 3-d effects.

Does that count?

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