* Posts by Neil Barnes

2817 posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

Renewed calls for Tesla to scrap Autopilot after number of crashes

Neil Barnes
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Boffin

Re: 98%

Making things foolproof simply means more fools breed more fools.

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Vegans furious as Bank of England admits ‘trace’ of animal fat in £5 notes

Neil Barnes
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Just a thought...

what animal-based lubricants are used in the production of plastic credit cards?

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Geo-boffins say 'quake lifted bits of New Zealand by 8 metres, moved at 3km/second

Neil Barnes
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Re: Low casualties ....

"I hope there is an upsurge in interest in Geology as a subject/career choice."

Or perhaps in rocket science; not much sense staying on a planet that doesn't care for you...

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Hey techbros, make an airplane mode but for driving for your apps – US traffic watchdog

Neil Barnes
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Paris Hilton

So what you do is

if you see someone using their phone while driving, simply use your phone to take a photo for evidence and forward it to your local traffic police.

Oh, wait...

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Visa cries foul over Euro regulator's stronger authentication demands

Neil Barnes
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While it is still possible

That some miscreant, under the unsuspecting eyes of my wife and presumably using a commercial card reader, can skim her card and that the resulting fake card can be used to withdraw cash in the USA, there are deeper problems in the system.

I'm assuming that this is a magstrip copy and that it works because many (all?) US cash machines don't insist on the chip being present in a card.

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LAKE OF frozen WATER THE SIZE OF NEW MEXICO FOUND ON MARS – NASA

Neil Barnes
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Alien

Re: McMars Distillery

You're not really trying. I get water for *my* whisky only from the rings of Saturn...

(Actually, I should get around to nudging a few icebergs Mars' way; a few gigatons of water arriving at escape velocity should improve the climate no end).

Signed: the Brennan Monster

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Helping autonomous vehicles and humans share the road

Neil Barnes
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a strong preference for choosing to save more people

I've got news for society.

I'm not getting into any autonomous vehicle whose prime tenet isn't 'protect the driver'.

All the ethical questions are mine, to be considered in the instant that the autopilot alerts me to them. They are *never* to be the province of people who aren't there, making rules for situations they may well not understand.

It's questions like this that made Isaac Asimov famous...

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TfL to track Tube users in stations by their MAC addresses

Neil Barnes
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Re: switch off your Wi-Fi...

I thought that it would start from the device end. So presumably, by the time the device has noticed a network and talked to it to decide it's not one it wants to connect to, the MAC address is already logged.

Bugger.

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Neil Barnes
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switch off your Wi-Fi...

Can someone a bit more au-fait with the technology than I am point me to a primer for the handshake/negotiation that takes place between a device with wifi turned on but only connecting to known hotspots - i.e. not the open spot on the underground?

Does the connection request start from a device which notices a live network or does the network poll? Or...?

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Firefox hits version 50

Neil Barnes
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Re: I like GUIs to be obvious

Got it in one. An address bar is for typing address; a search engine should be obvious and separate.

The search bar is the first thing I remove from firefox (the second is the pocket rubbish).

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Mac book, whoa! Apple unveils $300 design tome

Neil Barnes
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Re: Genius of a different stripe

Curses, I got up too late and you beat me to it!

Have an upvote.

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Twitter rolls out troll controls

Neil Barnes
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Sturgeon's law holds:

90% of everything is crap.

It's probably just that Twitter and the other social platforms make that 90% so visible.

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What went wrong at Tesco Bank?

Neil Barnes
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The question I have seen neither asked nor answered:

Where did the money *go*? Surely there is a transfer record?

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IoT worm can hack Philips Hue lightbulbs, spread across cities

Neil Barnes
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Holmes

I wonder...

if it's too late to patent the mechanical light switch?

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'Extra-supermoon' to appear next week

Neil Barnes
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Coat

So it's bound to be cloudy then.

And possibly raining or snowing as well.

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FBI drops bombshell, and investigation: Clinton still in the clear

Neil Barnes
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Re: Bingo

I'm sure he's married the model only once...

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Google makes it to third base with Home digital assistant

Neil Barnes
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Alien

Re: Kitchen interface for Spotify

But it has to be an earth-shattering kaboom box...

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Twitter trolls are destroying democracy, warn eggheads

Neil Barnes
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Re: I hope nobody is paying for this "research"!

That's my point: you can't. And with the political situation as it is - both in the US and here in the UK - there is no obvious way to dispute that spectrum.

But even if there were, the way that the questions are presented removes even the concept of a continuum; it's always a yes/no, us/them question without any consideration that there might be a grey area.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: It isn't only Twitter

DNA: “Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation.”

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Neil Barnes
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Re: I hope nobody is paying for this "research"!

With the added observation that both Twitter and Facebook help in the current obsession with reducing every question to two points - basically, agree or disagree. The fact that there may - and I would suggest in most cases *is* - a continuum both of opinion and of options on pretty much everything rather gets lost in the noise.

One is expected to vote for one political party when one probably, if one should happen to think about instead of voting as your parents did, prefer some of the policies of one party and some of the policies of the other. One is asked whether one wishes to be a member of the EU or not, and not on which conditions, or whether things might change without such a major political split.

Outside computing, most things don't have binary options - but people are led to believe they are.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Trolls - living, breathing, people or Bots?

Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun...

(c) Alfred Bester

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Neil Barnes
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Re: And they expected what? from postcard sized posts

@BigJohn: David Brin came up with a lovely one in Earth:

Hello. You have been infected with the program EmilyPost because your presence on the net is impinging on the rights and enjoyment of others... We suggest you try behaving in a more grown-up manner. If you don't, you will soon discover certain features of EmilyPost...

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World-leading heart hospital 'very, very lucky' to dodge ransomware hit

Neil Barnes
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Facepalm

Re: £80,672-£161,345 (€90,000-€180,000).

Mea culpa; lazy writing. Gives the subs something to do.

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Neil Barnes
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£80,672-£161,345 (€90,000-€180,000).

Dear sub-editors,

Please learn precision when converting between units[1]. That conversion was obviously originally in Euros and to the nearest ten thousand; the Sterling equivalent should have been £80,000-£160,000.

Thank you.

[1] unless you're converting to Reg Units, of course, in which long fractions are mandatory.

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Hell Desk's 800 number was perfect for horrible heavy-breathing harassment calls

Neil Barnes
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Re: From the Archives...

In the late seventies, the direct line to one of the BBC News studios was two digits swapped from the Hammersmith Odeon... we had fun with that one :)

Er, allegedly. It wasn't me; I wasn't there. You can ask my mate, he wasn't there either.

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Facebook chokes off car insurance slurp because – get this – it has privacy concerns

Neil Barnes
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It strikes me

that the way someone's social media posts are organised tells you as much about their driving habits as a kick in the bollocks tells you about the cobbler's pet goldfish.

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Coming to an SSL library near you? AI learns how to craft crude crypto all by itself

Neil Barnes
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Terminator

All this effort

to recreate ROT13(ai)?

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Web devs want to make the Internet of S**t worse. Much worse

Neil Barnes
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Re: Why the F...

My toaster died yesterday.

I hit it. Hard.

Now it works again. I bet there isn't a bluetooth API for that...

I'm constantly baffled by people coming up with IoT solutions for problems that simply don't exist, and that in the vast majority of cases have simple, effective, debugged, and secure solutions already - like, er, physical keys, physical switches, thermostats...

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Uni students float into Hyperloop finals with levitating prototype

Neil Barnes
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Re: Eric Braithewaite

Indeed I do, thanks!

(It was a long time ago...)

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Neil Barnes
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Boffin

Eric Braithewaite

I'm sure I remember the good professor demonstrating this in the sixties... and Q decapitating a dummy with a levitated tea tray.

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Think virtual reality is just about games? Think again, friend

Neil Barnes
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Stop

Re: Head Mounted Gadgets

They've been pushing 3-d every twenty or thirty years since 1840 or so... it's never caught on yet.

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Mysterious algorithms, black-box AI recruiters are binning our résumés

Neil Barnes
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Holmes

Re: Not a new problem.

Exactly; particularly if your skills are in closely related but not exactly what are asked for. If you can get contact with the person who needs the job filling, rather than the HR drones, you have a much better chance of convincing them to hire you.

HR is the blight of modern employment. While there *may* be jobs for which one person is a plug-in replacement for another, interchangeable at a moment's notice, I'm struggling to think of many... HR assumes that what works for a low-skill repetitive job also works for a high-skill job being performed by someone approaching retirement. It ain't necessarily so.

At least 'Personnel' kept the pretence that you were a person and not a hot-swappable part.

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US reactor breaks fusion record – then runs out of cash and shuts down

Neil Barnes
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Coat

Can I introduce you...

to Flieschman and Pons? They seem to have the whole fusion thing nicely sewn up...

--> what has it got in its pocketses, Preciousss? Why, yes! Platinum!

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A robot kitchen? Whatever. Are you stupid enough to fall for this?

Neil Barnes
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Paris Hilton

Just trying to work out

Whether it's cheaper to buy this system, or just eat at Michellin starred restaurants on a full time basis?

Not that I'd do either; I'm one of those old fashioned people that prefer the food un-deconstructed, un-in-a-small-pile-on-an-interesting-plate, and most particularly, in quantities large enough to provide nourishment. With chips.

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Mercedes answers autonomous car moral dilemma: Yeah, we'll just run over pedestrians

Neil Barnes
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Why did the chicken cross the road?

To avoid these 'moral difficulties'...

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Hard decision but Mercedes are probably right

There's a multi-level thing going on here, I think...

First level, you're driving watching what's in front of you and adjusting your speed and direction to avoid bumping into anything. Most of what's there is either stationary objects, objects doing much the same direction and speed (or the reverse vector).

Second level, you're considering what might be making changes to this situation: is that object that just stopped likely to open a door and emit a fleshy thing? Will the stationary object pull out in front of you? Will the objects coming down the slip road twenty miles an hour accelerate to your speed or wait for you to pass, or pull out in front of you moving more slowly than you?

Third level, you're considering potential hazards that should not but might cause changes to your surroundings. If you're passing a school at the end of the school day, you're going to be cautious; at 2 a.m. perhaps less so. But at 2 a.m. on the saturday morning past the club...

And so on. There's always one more layer of introspection regarding external conditions, many of which - but not all - are known locations at known times and can be mapped, and many which are completely random: the busload of nuns with a failed braking system vs. a tree struck by lightning and unsure which direction to fall in vs. a paraglider landing in the road in front of you.

Where do you stop? This is what meatbags do supremely well - even the ones who can't read the Sun without moving their lips seem to career around the streets for years without causing major mayhem. I'm not convinced, though, that in a serious incident either the said mouth-breather or the professional ethicist who is also an expert driver is thinking anything more than stercus stercus stercus moriturus sum

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My Nest smoke alarm was great … right up to the point it went nuts

Neil Barnes
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Re: Lithium cells

The most common Lithium AA primary cells appear to be the Energizer Lithium. Terminal voltage is in excess of 1.8V despite labelling, and at low currents remains so for many weeks.

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Neil Barnes
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Turns out that's not always a good idea - most alkaline cells have an open circuit (and very low current, such as you'd see in something designed to work for months or years) voltage of around 6.4v in a four-pack; a similar lithium 4-pack will start in excess of 7.8v... bit of an embuggeration if the designer hasn't paid attention to the Vin(max) on the power supply chip. Or indeed if he's just sticking cmos logic across the unregulated cells and hasn't picked the right family...

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Google 'screwed over' its non-millennials – now they can all fight back

Neil Barnes
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It's not grey hair

It's distinguished maturity.

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Psst. Need some spy-on-employees tech? Ask Oriium

Neil Barnes
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Mushroom

Re: Red flags all over the place.

" smoking, smouldering, slagged pile of molten glass"

Seems a bit harsh. Just nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

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New Mac candle smell

Neil Barnes
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So it's white

and it has round corners? They're doomed...

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A year living with the Nexus 5X – the good, the bad, and the Nougat

Neil Barnes
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Re: Re Battery Life: Save me From Electro-pedants!

On the other hand, if you want a phone to make phone calls, y'know, talk to people, and simply don't *need* to have e.g. GPS on all the time, then it makes a lot of sense to turn them off.

Your mileage may vary.

And less than a day's life for a charge is worse than ridiculous; it's broken.

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Internet handover is go-go-go! ICANN to take IANA from US govt

Neil Barnes
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It still seems to be working this morning.

Time to get some popcorn, perhaps.

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BOFH: There are no wrong answers, just wrong questions. Mmm, really wrong ones

Neil Barnes
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Joke

Re: 2B) or not.

"good news; you're not an axe murderer"

Nope, never murdered an axe in my life!

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Panasonic wants you to wear Li-Ion batteries. The ones that explode

Neil Barnes
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Re: Oh Gawd

*You* feel old. I *had* a Rex...

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Ofcom blesses Linux-powered, open source DIY radio ‘revolution’

Neil Barnes
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Re: Potato

Perhaps a slight misunderstanding: DAB radio is predicated on the basis that the receiver *will* be moving, and that there will be multiple low-powered transmitters on the same frequency coded such that interference is constructive.

Trouble is that it's been (a) built as large transmitters co-sited with the FM transmitters and subject to similar fading and noise, and (b) sold as a stationary receiver technology. Since digital bitstreams *can't* fail gracefully (analogue gets noisier but remains generally intelligible, while digits just stop or, at best, burble) this is a recipe for disaster.

Where DAB works it works excellently, on the move and occasionally at a stationary site, but where it doesn't, you need FM.

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BBC to demand logins for iPlayer in early 2017

Neil Barnes
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Happy

Re: Blue Peter

Both W1A 1AA and W12 8QT - I worked at both of them...

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British bloke bailed after 'hacker plunders Pippa Middleton's iCloud'

Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

more monarchically inclined newspapers

I think you mis-spelt 'moronically'...

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Ever longed to be naked in Paris? City council votes TODAY

Neil Barnes
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IT Angle

a python was found there

Aha! An IT link!

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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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