* Posts by Terry Barnes

475 posts • joined 21 Jul 2008

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How a hack on Prince Philip's Prestel account led to UK computer law

Terry Barnes
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Re: It was dail-up in more senses than the link....

"The original description of the system that I read used a telephone dial to interact with the system rather than a touch-tone keypad."

That's not possible. The breaks in the line that resulted would cause a modem to drop carrier. There would also be no facility for the * or # keys and there's no facility in a telephone exchange for those loop interruptions at the local exchange to be translated to something meaningful at the distant end - just noisy clicks over the carrier that serve no purpose. Loop disconnect signalling ceases to be useful once the distant line is answered.

Prestel didn't use MF4 signalling either - it wasn't possible to drive it from a phone. The MF4 signalling is inband and would have obscured the data carrier, causing a disconnect.

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BT Home Hub SIP backdoor blunder blamed for VoIP fraud

Terry Barnes
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Different types of LAN have different things connected to them.

A home router is insecure in a business environment would probably be a better way to describe it. Business kit - like perhaps a PBX or an FTP server or a payments portal - requires such a level of sophistication in setting up things like firewall rules that someone who doesn't do it for a living can only get it wrong.

The home kit has a fairly simple set of pre-defined rules set up that will work in most cases for most people, with some minor configuration possible by the user. The business kit is endlessly configurable to meet the needs of the business and services using it.

I might use a £10 padlock to secure the little shed in my garden with a few tools in it. I wouldn't use the same lock to secure my business premises. Equally my business premise security wouldn't be affordable at home. Products are secure or not depending on the context in which they're used.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Really?

just what are the advantages of business broadband access to the internet over domestic access to the internet if you are on a best speed possible tariff?

Usually things like a fixed rather than dynamic IP address, more subnets available and faster repair times.

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Drug drone not high enough: Brit lags' copter snared on prison wire

Terry Barnes
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Re: Smart Phones?

I don't think there are many apps to fly drones available for feature phones.

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Becoming Steve Jobs biography: ‘Much of it was chutzpah and self delusion’

Terry Barnes
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Re: Flawed - like all of us

"Pity Gates didn't invest a few billion wiping disease from his virus infested OS."

People have a choice of which OS to use. Getting a disease - not so much.

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Treat us like the utilities we believe ourselves to be, say UK operators

Terry Barnes
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Re: I don't understand.

"Most rural cell sites I know of are stuck on to existing TV and radio sites."

There are far, far more cell sites than there are transmitters for public broadcasting.

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My self-driving cars may lead to human driver ban, says Tesla's Musk

Terry Barnes
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Re: @Terry Barnes -- Not a problem solved

"That statement pretty much indicates you don't work in computing. Dude! There are these things called "bugs"..."

25 years and counting. I've not found a problem yet where the answer to when it can be done is "never". A project may need every processor cycle on earth, all the RAM in the galaxy and a million programmers, but never is a very, very long time.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: @Terry Barnes (again) --Not a problem solved

"Ah, yes, that ol' chestnut "sufficient resources". The one thing that our Corporate Overlords will do everything in their power to not provide, because...well, providing "sufficient resources" is bad for business, as it doesn't increase Shareholder Value™.

You really aren't from around here, are you?"

Not finishing or launching a project because of penny-pinching is even worse for shareholder value. Why would any leader deliberately not provide the resources required - man or machine - to get the job done?

You write a business case and it gets approved or not. The time to penny pinch is before the approval not after - if you can't afford the project don't start it. Elon Musk doesn't strike me as a leader who starves his teams of whatever it is they need to get something out of the door.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: @AC w.r.t AF447

"But what I am absolutely certain of is that having an autonomous system throw back the controls to humans under "difficult" conditions is a recipe for disaster. And equally for cars the conditions that are unlikely to be handled well, such as an unexpected conflict of sensors while approaching a junction, blind bend, etc, will leave the human operator with bugger-all time to come to terms with being in control, let alone to apprise the situation and react accordingly."

I believe drivers are taught a manoeuvre known as the "emergency stop" to deal with such incidents. An advantage a car has over a flying thing is that such a thing is even possible. Why would a self-driving car not just implement an emergency stop in such situations?

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Terry Barnes
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Re: @Crisp

"all a crim has to do is step out in front of your (ignorant) AI car and it will very nicely stop so you can be robbed or kidnapped. "

Your argument being that a human would just mow them down and kill them?

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Not a problem solved

"Aircraft and Power stations are hardly consumer products. If you are expecting future autonomous vehicle software to be designed using the same technologies (and budgets) as Airbus and Boeing, you are misguided."

VW spent $17Bn on R&D last year. Toyota and Ford aren't far behind. Toyota's revenue was $26Bn. I think they can afford to do this properly.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Not a problem solved

"Yet in these very pages day after day we have bug after bug surfacing, sometimes years old."

In real-time safety critical systems developed and maintained by certified teams? Not so much. Airplanes and nuclear power stations tend not to get BSODs, for obvious reasons and by design.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Not a problem solved

"What happens when an autonomous car is approaching an accident and only has a choice between mounting the pavement and possibly killing many pedestrians, or going into the accident and killing the driver?"

The range of sensing inputs are so much greater that it would stand a far better chance of stopping before it got to the accident - these cars can, for example, see much farther ahead, they can see round corners before a human eye could, and they're tracking the movement of every vehicle around them.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Not a problem solved

"The reason why computers aren't as adaptable as human brains is the human brain cheats. It doesn't process every bit of information, it does not evaluate every possibility, it takes short cuts and uses steriotypes to get to a conclusion quickly"

And that's why it's often wrong. Wrong enough that 100 people die on US roads every single day.

I'd understand some of these arguments if humans were provably perfect, or near to it, but we're not. Limited sensory input, slow operation of the 'observe, assess, plan, act' cycle (the basis of a safe system of driving) and an unconscious decision making bias that is exacerbated by tiredness and mood. Travelling at motor vehicle speeds is something relatively new in human experience and we've not evolved adequate sensory and decision making systems to be very good at it.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Not a problem solved

"but the fact is that people are lazy and will always try to save costs where ever possible."

I think the ownership model changes when self driving vehicles become commonplace. Why would you need to own one? I know there are some specific use cases where having access to a specific vehicle is important - my son for example is a wheelchair user and has lots of kit to carry around with him and it's far easier to just leave most of that kit in the car.

In the main though, why own something that gets used for a tiny portion of the day? I trhink a lot of the legla questions about using these things get solved in a lease model too - even if you lease something to be permanently available to you, having it owned and maintained by the manufacturer gets rid of all the problems you list.

As for duff kit and dirty sensors - I'd pretty much expect these vehicles to refuse to depart if they don't have a defined minimum set of kit available, and I'd expect them to take themselves off to be fixed or call for service when things do go awry.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Not a problem solved

"Whenever I hear "it's just an engineering problem" I draw my own conclusions concerning the speaker"

I think it's pretty widely used to mean that a problem isn't impossible - the laws of physics don't preclude the thing under discussion being done, the science that underpins any solution is known and that applying sufficient resources will thus solve it.

Once it's known that something is possible, the discussion moves to how engineering principles should be applied to arrive at a solution. If I was addressing a group of engineers in a business context it would be shorthand as well for telling them that budget and resource issues are taken care off - go do your thing.

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Terry Barnes
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"I can't wait to see a self-drive car in a rush hour at a big intersection or roundabout..."

Your wait is over;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEsvQOHreg4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BrmorE5W1tM

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Not a problem solved

"a self drive car cannot possibly arrive at the correct solution every time."

That's a bold claim.

It's far more likely to do it reliably and regularly than a human. It will take statistically proven decisions, and it will do that from a much broader array of sensing inputs than a human could.

I struggle with seeing how people who work in computing could see this as unsolvable. It's simply an engineering problem - the right inputs processed at the right time, matched against a statistically driven decision tree. How is any of that impossible?

An large number of possible input variables just needs more resources than a small number - it doesn't make the problem unsolvable.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Am I the only one...

" I know driving standards are pretty poor, but I still don't trust a 'puter to do it instead of a human."

Almost every accident is down to human error. Some are down to our inherent sensory limitations.

Self driving vehicles can operate on a co-operative basis with other vehicles, taking input from a much broader range of sensing devices, networked between vehicles. They'll make reliable decisions based on statistically proven outcomes and won't get tired or cranky or drunk.

More people die on the roads every month in the US than were killed in 9/11 - in 2012, 33.5k people died in road accidents. I'll take the computer every time.

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Sit back and let someone else manage your telephony

Terry Barnes
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Re: Necessary?

"Nature of voice needing low latency, and with modern PBX systems having all sorts of extra features I'm skeptical that cloud hosted telephony is suitable for anyone other than sub 30 user environments."

Typically the cloud just operates on the control/signalling plane and the end-to-end speech is direct IP between endpoints - the calls don't go in and out of the cloud centre.

The big advantage is that I don't need to tie up capital budget on my phone system. That said, the benefit of dumping the PBX is partly offset by the cost of needing SBCs, though I can lease those if need be.

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Tell us, do you enjoy the thought of BT-EE's sweaty fourplay?

Terry Barnes
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Re: platitudes

"Three guesses where the bloke at Ofcom who let BT keep hold of it went to work next, a year or two later?"

Stephen Carter was NTL's MD before he was Ofcom's CEO and went on from that role to be a minister in the government. He now works for Alcatel-Lucent.

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UK call centre linked to ‘millions’ of nuisance robo-calls raided by ICO

Terry Barnes
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Re: It used to be possible

How so? There was no DC path between telephones, even on the same exchange.

You could blow a whistle down a phone for a same exchange call, but on a call between exchanges the amplitude of any signal was limited - even in analogue days.

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Look, no handsets: How to do telephony without a phone

Terry Barnes
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I don't know that you need to keep the POTS trunks - you just need public domain SIP trunks.

Don't try and run this over a domestic broadband connection though - you'll need an uncontended service with some kind of throughput guarantee - an SDSL or EFM based product.

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Thought Apple was kidding about diversity? Here's 50 MEEELLION reasons you're wrong

Terry Barnes
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"Positive discrimination is still discrimination"

No, it's not. It's a step taken to reduce discrimination.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: @45rpm

"A lot of people don't like the LGBT community not because of their sexual preference but because they use their current advantage in the workforce to screw over everyone else, and complain about discrimination at the same time."

It certainly seems like you don't.

Swap LGBT for black and sexual preference for colour, and then think about how bigoted your statement is.

If a minority group had an advantage - guess what - they wouldn't be a minority. That's kind of how it works. Stop whining because someone tipped the scales ever so slightly away from being completely in your favour, in all cases, all the time.

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BT inks deal with Williams F1 for go-faster cloudy goodness

Terry Barnes
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I'd like to see IBM always prefixed with 'former typewriter manufactuer'.

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Nokia boss smashes net neutrality activists

Terry Barnes
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"f say a hospital signs up to a deal for 1 gig broadband, then that's what they should get, instead the telco will give them a congested line with ridiculous contention rates that shares 1 gig bandwidth across 50/100 customers, sure it is "capable" of 1 gig but it will NEVER see that in real life. Instead of admitting that they are oversubscribing their lines they will wail that it's all net neutralitys fault, the FCC is forcing them to slow the packets."

If you do that the first problem will be that your broadband bill will increase by 50, maybe 100 times. Is your intention really to fix the problem by making broadband unaffordable?

My second point would be that it destroys the case for packet switching. If bandwidth is always guaranteed and uncontended end to end, circuit switching is far more efficient. The sharing of network resources is one of the main principles behind packet switching and an IP network. You're arguing to replace the public Internet with B-ISDN.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: I wasn't under the impression that they were being argued for/against

"No, of course you weren't. Except that's effectively what Comcast and Verizon are charging Netflix for: QoS from Netflix to the Comcast servers."

They'll just achieve the same end with a private line between the Netflix servers and Comcast routers. Anything that gets outlawed on a public network will just move to a private one - nothing will change.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: He seems to have failed to understand

" If VOIP packets get priority then ALL VOIP packets are treated equal, no matter where they came from."

Even if the network is congested and one of the calls is an emergency call?

And wouldn't giving VOIP priority at all provide me with an incentive to game the system by marking my packets as being VOIP, regardless of the real content?

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Terry Barnes
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"Surely then it's for the hospital to pay for a better connection?"

No, in the definition of net neutrality most activists are using, that would be illegal. They can pay for a faster access service, but if that connection hits the public Internet, the packets have to take their chances with the rest.

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Google to tame Android's Wild Wild West to please suits

Terry Barnes
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Re: Androids and iPhones are great for big businesses...

" "What's this? You visited your grandmother in the hospital for 10 minutes when you said you were traveling to a customer's office? Terminated!""

Good luck with that in court. The Data Protection Act makes that kind of thing illegal. Has the employee given their informed consent to have their device used to track their movements?

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Royal Mail's Colossus move gets ex-WREN's stamp of approval

Terry Barnes
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They worked on separate projects. Turing had no involvement with the work Flowers did on Colossus.

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Virgin Media to splurge BEELLIONS on UK network infrastructure expansion

Terry Barnes
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Re: So far ...

Core network investment should be ongoing, unremarkable, part of the business's normal Opex. I'd not expect it to be remarked on separately unless this investment is expected to materially change the average cost of serving a user.

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Samsung snub sends Qualcomm into a spin over Snapdragon 810

Terry Barnes
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Re: Think of it another way...

"co-operation between manufacturers to save on R&D costs by sharing engines and components (see Peugeot/Citroen"

That's not co-operation between manufacturers. They're two arms of the same company.

Component sharing between manufacturers in the car industry is widespread - including engines.

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Post-modem Ericsson wobbles thanks to flat sales and falling profits

Terry Barnes
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Re: Do some research before you post a story.....

It's been making telephones since 1876 and telephone exchanges since 1884. The statement as written would only be true if it was written 131 years ago.

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Microsoft: We bought Skype. We make mobiles.. Oh, HANG ON!

Terry Barnes
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Re: What is old is new again

"(a Skype phonecall can be placed through the "telephone app", just by pointing at a contact that has a Skype account) and messages "

Windows Phone has always done this too. I select a contact and I'm presented with an array of options for contacting them, including Skype.

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Planning to upgrade your Lumia to Windows 10? NOT SO FAST

Terry Barnes
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Re: is it because they're ARM?

Wouldn't that affect every model, not just some of them?

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Police radios will be KILLED soon – yet no one dares say 'Huawei'

Terry Barnes
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Re: Push-to-talk latency

"What's wrong with putting an audible tone in the software when the thing is ready to transmit on the network? "

Because of unintended consequences.

If the tone is long people will wait before it finishes before speaking.

If the tone is short people will miss it and not speak at all.

It requires the user to hold the device to their ear when they're planning on transmitting.

It creates an opportunity for audio feedback.

If the 'ready' tone is picked up by the mic and transmitted another party may hear it and presume they're good to speak.

A red light would be a better option that trying to signal transmission readiness through audio.

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Intel offers big bucks for black women

Terry Barnes
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"E.g.: you claim the people writing software don't have to be the same ethnicity/gender/background as the people using it. That's obviously false,"

What? Your argument is that white people can only use software written by white people? I hope to hell that with your logical skills you don't write software.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: surely this is discrimination?

" if it happens to be your whole office is full of white males, then so what?"

Then it means your recruitment process is sexist and racist, because society isn't made up of white males. That won't be fixed by the magic equality fairy and so action has to be taken - like this one by Intel - to redress the balance.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Forget true equality

"Those figures reflect the fact that less females, and less non whites have put themselves through the education required to get these jobs."

...because all the evidence available to them suggests that there's no job at the end of it for them if they do. That's the problem.

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Terry Barnes
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It's amazing to see all the middle class white males bristle when someone takes a tiny step to redress their inherent advantage in tech jobs.

Any successful organisation will have a make up that reflects the make up of the community in which it conducts its business. If it doesn't there must be some inherent bias. That bias has been proven time and time again in lots of organisations by researchers submitting the same CVs with different names and thus different sex or perceived ethnicities of the supposed applicant. Guess which group is reliably invited to interview above all others?

Women and people from different ethnic groups are just as intelligent, capable and skilled as white middle class men, so if those people are under-represented in an organisation something is wrong. The only way to overcome that bias is through policies like this - for reasons that should be obvious. People who aren't white or male tend to be less inclined to apply for jobs in a business they perceive as almost exclusively white and male.

Or, looking at all this from a different angle - you want customers who aren't exclusively white middle class males? Then you'd better employ some people who aren't white middle class males.

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4K off, Google Fiber: Comcast, Broadcom tout 2Gbps cable

Terry Barnes
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Re: The question is, how wrotten is your infrastructure?

"Otherwise we'll now be left with expensive incremental updates which become obsolete after a couple of years."

Versus a really, really expensive upgrade to fibre that leaves the cable companies bankrupt after a couple of months.

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Super Cali's futuristic Tesla batt swap focus – even though car tech test is an expected bonus

Terry Barnes
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Re: Dodgy replacement battery

"Nobody will want to swap their brand new battery for a dogdy used one on its 800th charge cycle... unless they get their original back. Or Telsa throws in some "minimum range" guarantee on the swapped batteries so people basically buy the car and then rent the batteries."

If this model is more widely adopted, you own the car and the battery is leased - just like Calor Gas. It's not your battery, it belongs to Tesla and you're just borrowing it as a container for the energy you've bought.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: This is the only reasonable way it works

Not every battery will be empty when it's swapped and there's plenty of capacity at night for charging.

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Pitch Black: New BlackBerry Classic is aimed at the old-school

Terry Barnes
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Re: Do they encrypt transmissions

GSM is encrypted. It's a basic component of the standard.

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Égalité, Fraternité - Oui, peut-etre. Liberté? NON, French speedcam Facebookers told

Terry Barnes
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Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

"However I have zero personal issues as regards putting my foot down when appropriate to conditions, rather than obeying an arbitrary legal limit."

Driving isn't a compulsory activity. If you feel unable to comply with the rules and laws regarding driving, you are free to choose not to drive.

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Terry Barnes
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Re: Hazard

"That doesn't stop governments from installing them as revenue-generators. I always said, if there was a genuine hazard and the intention was to really slow motorists down, you would have a highly visible camera housing, painted in bright orange."

That makes no sense though. Apart from specific junctions on some roads, it's stretches of road that are dangerous. It's impossible to have a camera that covers the whole stretch, though I suppose we could start to use average speed cameras instead and time people in and out of the dangerous section.

Stats show that people who have points for speeding are roughly twice as likely to have an at fault accident than a driver without, so there's clearly some merit in the cameras. they're unlikely to work as revenue raisers though as 1) in the UK all the fines go on driver awareness courses and 2) you only need to catch someone four times and the revenue the exchequer receives from a driver in terms of fuel tax (and sometimes income tax) tends to decline rather rapidly.

I avoid any problem by simply never speeding. I don't have camera warnings on my satnav, I just have it set to alert me if I exceed the limit by 1MPH.

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G.fast is HERE: Sckipio slurps funding to cook up SPAWN of VDSL tech

Terry Barnes
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Re: One bit I don't get

There's no need to have a constant metallic path all the way to the exchange with FFTx. I think in the UK there is one today, but it's not essential. In ancient telecoms terms, it's Central Battery (CB) versus Local Battery.

If the intention longer term is to reduce the amount of copper in the network and push fibre further and further out to customers, installing new kit that needs to be exchange powered over copper is probably a bad move.

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97% of UK gets 'basic' 2Mbps broadband. 'Typical households' need 10Mbps – Ofcom

Terry Barnes
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Re: Typical households need 10Mbps

", it will soon become (if it hasn't already) a utility service. And that means a service obligation"

Do you know what proportion of the population has no access to mains sewerage or gas? It might surprise you. Across England, Wales, Scotland it's 20% without mains gas. In Northern Ireland it's 80% without access to it. 3% of the population have to use septic tanks as they have no access to the sewer system. Mains water only reaches 99% of the population.

Provision of utility services are by no means universal.

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