206 posts • joined Tuesday 19th August 2008 13:10 GMT
People are very stupid
...film at 11.
Seriously -- come the collapse of civilisation, there's going to be a fantastic once-in-a-species-lifetime chance to squeeze the human population through a nice tight bottleneck, with knuckle-dragging halfwits (that's 85% of the population, at least) being -- oh dear, how sad, so sorry -- stuck on the wrong side of the alive/dead boundary. Or the right side, if you prefer to look at it that way.
"brigade"? Did you really say "brigade" and expect to be taken seriously??
Re: Haven't you heard? IPCC Chairman Pachauri confirms it: Global warming stopped in 1997!
> So why do I keep seeing stories like this?
Maybe because you get your science from the Heartland Institute?
This is such a ancient denialist trope it's hardly worth the bother of looking up the URL, but here it is. Consider yourself bitchslapped, and next time at least TRY to check your talking point nonsense isn't specifically listed on one of the many sites listing rebuttals of common Daily Mail / saloon bar bore horseshit -- say, for instance: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php , or http://grist.org/series/skeptics/ << it's #9 on the first list.
Here's a more detailed, patient explanation of your fundamental misapprehension of the most basic of climatology 101:
"On record-breaking extremes"
A bit of actual science, for the benefit of any of the lunatic mouth-breather denialists capable of understanding long words: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/11/on-record-breaking-extremes/
"Let’s perform a couple of thought-experiments that shed light on some basic properties of the statistics of record-breaking events, like unprecedented heat waves. I promise it won’t be complicated, but I can’t promise you won’t be surprised. [...] "
SSL/TLS, a defence against DPI? BWAAAAAhahahahahaha! It's the way you tell 'em!
Why do you keep lying, Lewis?
Still with the anti-science denialist claptrap. I've had to stop reading El Reg to avoid it, it's so depressing and anger-inducing. (Just dipped back today to look for one particular story but now I can't be bothered.)
Up to a point, Lord Copper
"the ICO can be moved from the “safe” schedule to any other schedule (eg the “abolish” schedule or the “merge functions” schedule) at the stroke of a ministerial pen" -- except that the DPA itself, which establishes the office of the ICO, would need amending. Oh and we'd need a replacement body, or the UK would be in breach of EU Directive 95/46/EC, which isn't going to happen.
The MSL Skycrane would be of no use whatsoever in landing humans on Mars. Apollo's ascent stage (the bit the humans landed in) massed 4,700kg, and only had to support it's two-man crew for a few days. You are quite correct to have noticed that EDL is one of several complete showstoppers for boots on Mars.
...that was /fiction/. There is a difference.
Never gonna happen
Landing humans plus enough infrastructure for them to survive more than a day or two on the surface of Mars is, for any practical purposes, impossible. If every industrialised nation pooled half their GDP for a few decades it might be /technically/ possible, but there's no way that'd happen, for the obvious reason that *it's not worth it*.
I agree with Robbins
What I Reckon*:
The Register's coverage of climate change is profoundly embarrassing. I love El Reg, I've been reading it daily since the very early days. However my heart sinks when I see another climate-related headline turn up in the RSS feed, because I know it will have me grinding my teeth in impotent frustration at the misunderstanding of really basic science. In the case of Andrew Orlowski's pieces, they often descend to the status of propounding ludicrous pseudoscience.
*Mitchell and Webb, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E10Bp_mPXXA
Climate change is important; and there *are* real remaining controversies, poorly understood or characterised phenomena and areas of honest disagreement between professional researchers in the field. Instead of giving us the thoughtful and insightful survey as it would with any other topic, the impression is rapidly given of a saloon-bar bore of the red-faced Telegraph-reading species.
(I would also be very happy to accept that a /huge/ amount of BS about AGW is promulgated by people you might suppose to be "on my side". Bad journalism and sloppy thinking is everywhere, and "OMFG we're gonna die next week when seas rise 500 feet!!1!" is a headline that will get clicks and reads just as much as "Climate Lies Exposed!"* will. For a while I wondered whether it was deliberate page-view trolling on El Reg's part, but on reflection I don't think that's the case. I think Orlowski and Lewis are sincere in their apparent belief that, apparently "physics dun't wurk like that". Sadly that has spoiled my enjoyment of other stuff they write. Lewis *seems* to me, an uninformed observer, to be a credible and well-sourced reporter of matters military; but, as I have no personal knowledge of the topic or way to check his assertions about e.g. MoD procurement fiascos, I can only weigh it up his credibility by assessing his coverage of a topic I _do_ know something about. This process does not give me much confidence in his other pieces.
Thanks for finally running something on this topic; a shame it took a piece in the Grauniad to prompt you to do it.
Decade old news
I'm sure I remember reading an article in Linux Journal on a group of postgrads at an Italian University who built an autonomous car, which as a proof of concept drove from Rome to Turin on public roads entirely unmanned. Can't find it on the LJ site, but - aha! this is it I think:
Still with the denialist trolling :(
This is an appalling piece of journalism; it completely misrepresents the paper. Sad.
"...capable of processing all of Facebook's HTTP traffic - from five million users - on two racks."
Err, Facebook claims to have over 500 million active users. The statement be accurate, strictly speaking, but it's certainly misleading. 200 racks to support all of Facebook's HTTP traffic sounds a little less impressive, especially as it presumably doesn't include the somewhat vital database backend.
This idiot needs a thrashing with the Metasploit cluebat.
My gob's flapping at the number of comments above appearing to demonstrate clue on the theoretical and practical aspects of Internet routing. Where's manfrommars? Where are the people ridiculing engineers and academics and others who may know whereof they speak? *shakes head sadly* El Reg used to be much funnier than it is nowadays.
I'm shocked, _shocked_ by the sarcastic reaction to this honest attempt to help protect the world from the evils of malware!!1! Why, the site's an exemplar of everything that's great about Norton security... *cough! *cough!
Useful amounts of cargo to Mars with an ion drive in a year?! That's going to need a pretty gigantic area of PV cells.
Landing a human on Mars is going to be ferociously difficult, which translates into "very very expensive". Going to the moon first makes little sense, as the vehicles and technologies needed for Mars are very different from an Apollo-like lunar trip (or even ambitious long-surface stay visions with a semi-permanent base, which are basically doable with Apollo-like boosters and vehicles; you just need to land half a dozen Apollo-sized unmanned cargo packages in very close proximity to do that.) Mars is difficult because:
1. it's a two-and-a-half year round trip, at a very minimum. Although Salyut 7, MIR and the ISS have all been in operation a lot longer than that, only one human's stayed in space longer than a year.
2. The majority of that time will be spent outside the terrestrial magnetosphere, with consequent need for large amounts of mass to shield the crew from cosmic and solar radiation.
3. EDL - Entry, Descent and Landing. The problem is that unlike the moon, Mars has an atmosphere, which means the lander has to be aerodynamic, unlike Apollo. However the atmosphere's too thin to be much cop for earth-style aerobraking as used by the returning Apollo capsules, Soyuz, the Shuttle and so on. This is why landing sites for the MERs which landed in 2004 and the Mars Science Lab rover (Curi), scheduled to launch next year, were restricted to the lowest points on the surface - they had to use maximise aerodynamic drag by descending through the deepest atmosphere available. Now, factor in that a manned lander has severe restrictions on the amount of g-forces it can subject it's payload to, that it must also carry enough shielding to protect the crew, consumables (air food and water) for a prolonged surface stay (probably "only" six months -- ~30 times longer than the longest Apollo surface mission -- /and/ must be able to either relaunch itself and fly into orbit, or carry a secondary ascent module to do so. The obvious solution is to land three or four cargo-carriers in close proximity before risking a manned landing - to test the technology as well as to establish a beachhead, perhaps including the ascent vehicle as one complete payload. Consider that they'll all have to work perfectly before the manned landing could be attempted; and that if any one should fail, you have /at least/ four years to wait before you can try again. (Spacecraft like that aren't built on a production line, and the orbital mechanics restrict you to a few weeks of launch window at two year intervals.)
And that is why my money's on no manned landing in my lifetime. In fact I don't even think there'll be an unmanned sample-return mission in my lifetime, either.
Sorry, Star Trek fans. Physics doesn't follow Hollywood rules.
Number of engines
Russia's failed N1 launcher, intended to beat Saturn V / Apollo to the moon, used 30 engines in it's first stage. The Saturn V used five. Energia (the utterly awesome Soviet-era designed heavy-lift booster that sadly only flew once before the collapse of the USSR doomed it to history) had four. The Falcon 9, the biggest of SpaceX's two launchers so far, has a nine engine first stage.
The vibration problems on the N1 were solved; it was the tendency of engines to explode when they failed that turned out to make the odds of a total loss accident too high.
NASA PR fail
This is just a bad bit of NASA PR. When Spirit went into low-power hibernation mode before the winter solstice it was well-prepared for; the engineering team; it's not expected to have enough power to get through it's boot cycle and start transmitting the "here I am" beacon for at least another month. TPS' own Emily Lakdawalla put it well:
PS Vladimir -- it may surprise you to learn that the MERs *DO* in fact carry other instruments apart from the cameras, in particular a Mossbauer Spectrometer and an Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer, both of which provide plenty of the "hard evidence" you demand.
Erik -- you're not even wrong.
PS AJ01 <blockquote>Can Anyone tell me why they have not put a microphone on any of the landers? Seeing is believeing but sound would add a fair bit of depth.</blockquote>
(1) there's nothing to hear. The atmosphere is about as thin as earth's is at 100,000'.
(2) for every instrument you add, another one has to come off. What would you trade audio sensors for -- the APXS? navcams? pancams? MI?
soft/high value targets
Electricity transmission lines, "increasingly well-guarded"? Shurely shome mishtake; it's impossible to guard thousands of miles of cross-country high-tension lines. It's always been a mystery to me that the IRA never realised that with a dozen well-chosen bombs the size of a packet of fags on London-bound electricity generation lines they could cause massive disruption with virtually zero risk of detection or bad publicity resulting from civilian casualties.
I tried ignoring the Orlowski AGW trolls, really I did, but I couldn't help peaking -- like probing a painful tooth with your tongue -- and finally you did it. I'm sick of this bullshit. I've written to Toyota, whose Lexus marque happened to be thrown up by your banner ad provider, asking if they really want to be associated with such dangerous garbage. Yeah, shaking now, aincha? OK, fair point, what can one angry but articulate geek with time on his hands really achieve in a situation like this? Hmmm. Watch this space.
The Wikipedia article you're all looking for (unless you're wasting your time working) would be:
It could happen tomorrow, but it could just as well not reoccur for decades to come. Satellites are hardened against a certain amount of EMI and flipped bits in digital control electronics, but a big CME burps out highly energetic charged particles which induce ginormous ground currents in long-distance electrical circuits. An 1859-type event that occurred today would cause massive disruption with at best at few hours' advance warning.
Big fat b0rging machine
HP have only just borged EDS, and from where I'm sitting they've got a lot of work to do there. Whatever happened to NAI, anyway?
Hang on a mo'
...I'm not seeing the bit where they explain how they're going to fake the data to keep the global conspiracy of UN bureaucrats, enviro-nazis and so-called "climatologists" and "scientists" fat & rich on the proceeds of lower fuel bills. Come on Lewis, sort it out!
Will be greatly missed
Guy Kewney's monthly piece in the late lamented Personal Computer World was essential reading for me from 1982 (when I bought my first copy, aged 13) throughout the 1980s. His writing was reliably interesting, informative, insightful, and funny. The most recent piece of his I remember reading was his goodbye to PCW, here on El Reg. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/06/11/pcw/
But how will the so-called "scientists" forming the evil conspiracy to reduce everyone's fuel bills get to the satellite data and fake it to make it appear that "thermodynamics" (ha!) are working the way Planck said they do? I suppose they'll hush everything up by releasing the complete dataset on the net, the way those other crooks at NASA Goddard, CRU, and the British Antarctic Survey have been doing for the last three decades. Never mind, I'm sure it'll be far too difficult to work out how to perform statistical analysis of the data without being indoctrinated into the hidden knowledge of normalisation, standard deviations and all the rest of that mumbo-jumbo, so the truth about the AGW conspiracy will still hold up.
Any chance that, as the election nears, the Reg sub-eds might try to inject a little skepticism into the headlines on stories like this? All the parties are making statements about their future plans, which may or may not be sincerely made now, and may or may not *actually happen* if the party concerned wins. (Note, I'm not claiming the Tories are worse at this than Labour, I'd just like to see words like "claim" or "assert" or "promise", rather than "to" or "will", as if it was completely certain to happen just because they've said so.
 Except the Liberal Democrats of course, who are cushioned by the comfortable certainty that they won't be forming the next government and can therefore afford to be completely honest. (There's a chance of a hung parliament, of course, but if the Lib Dems get some representation in a coalition government -- a minister of state or two -- they'll have to cherry-pick one or two policies to try to implement, and one of those slots has been booked for a referendum on P.R. for, ooh, four or five decades now. )
 I just =love= telling an American we have a mainstream party with that name.
Read the friendly BCP
Spoofing (of the source of malicious packet floods) should no longer be an issue, if only more service providers would implement the recommendations of BCP 38, which dates from May 2000. (BCPs are what RFCs become when they grow up.)
Nonensical story comprehensively refuted
get_iplayer still works for me, touch wood. It also respects the content-expiry date, but allows it to be overridden pretty easily. It's easily the best and most useful Perl application I've found since, oh,.. ever? (It's mostly "just" a glorified wrapper for ffmpeg, flvstreamer and other fine Free software, but stuff like the PVR mode make it indispensable. )
Hardly news; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowball_Earth .
OK, OK, it's a new paper and was presumably linked to the famous (to some of us) LPSC conference which is just winding up, but a bit more context would be nice.
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2010/ . (Hit the "Program with abstracts" link (PDF) for hours and hours of fascinating reading. LPSC abstracts are exactly the right length for the interested lay-person.)
I must admit I started reading this piece looking for the nutty global warming denialist angle; pleasantly surprised there isn't one. Keep it up please.
There's no practical way to prevent someone with an ordinary domain account from pulling a copy of the full GAL (global address list, NOT "the internal phonebook" as suggested up-thread.) Obviously it's not great to have names and email addresses leak, but it's not the end of the world either. They might be used for some social engineering attacks ("Hi Esmerelda, it's Martin Davis from IT here, could you pls reset your password to "123456", just for the next 10 minutes?" ) .
It can also be done by a bog-standard driveby download compromise, the spambot herders often use compromised corporate machines to dump the GAL for use as a list of spam targets.
Will be interested to see how big a slap on the wrist they get from the Information Commissioner dude. Token £5K fine and a "be more careful in future" is my bet.
For heaven's sake
If you really want to try to find problems with the rock solid science behind global warming, you need to go to much more authoritative sources than the trashy UK press. They're great at reporting which sleb's just had a boob job or who's shagging who, or political intrigue, but science reporting in the UK press universally sucks golfballs through hosepipes. Just ignore it all (and yes, I'd say the same for the majority of stuff that's right, IMO; 99/100 times, they're right for the wrong reasons, and wouldn't know a Hadley Cell if it kneed them in the testes and nicked their iPhones.
Go to the source.
Read the journal articles.
Or admit you can't be arsed, and go with the scientific consensus. But don't claim it's all bollocks because of some blindingly obvious thing that Simon Heffer claims climatologists have missed out or not understood.
US airship disasters
The loss of the Shenandoah and the other two are strangely unknown to many, although the epic-ness of the fail rivals the R101, Hindenberg and other popular instances of the airship fail. Far more than you ever, etc: http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=Shenandoah+disaster&btnG=Search&meta=&aq=f&oq=
Great Friday night reading for those unfortunate geeks stuck at home staring at their Star Trek DVDs. Which is all of us, right? right???
A couple of mates and I were planning our own stab at amateur high-altitude phun this summer, but El Reg talking about it public means we'll probably be beaten to it by hordes of over-enthusiastic IT people flinging vast quantities of disposable income at it. I'd just like to warn anyone else thinking of having a go that it's REALLY REALLY HARD, and very expensive (apart from anything else you've no more than a one -in-two chance of recovering the payload, going on past launch stats, which means your custom flight computer, GPS, cellphone, shortwave transmitter (if you're going for the whole packet-radio live telemetry route), not to mention an expensive digital camera... plus all the blood sweat and tears you've put into it. So please don't bother trying. Not til next year, anyway...
PS Oh yeah and you need to give the CAA a month's heads-up to get a NOTAM out. Pilots tend to frown on aircraft drifting randomly through their flight paths, especially if they're not carrying a radar reflector and the first they know about it is a windscreen full of amateur geekery.
Grenade because _this is war_!
Private Eye readers with the fortitude to read some of the 8-point-type articles have been following this for several years now. Far from being "an attempt to smear the Tories", Cameron's had plenty of opportunities to ditch Coulson, who's obviously going to be a liability as long as he stays in that position, in the past. The closer it gets to the election, the bigger a disaster it will be for the Tories, and the more crap will stick to their brand. They've only got themselves to blame!
@Dino Saur 17:03 --
uk .gov network security services are provided by commercial vendors; their identity is a matter of public record.
army of fanbois
I see defectivebydesign.org is off the air, presumably being packeted by outraged hordes of Jobbiephiles. Pathetic.
Torn from yesterday's headlines
WISE found it's first NEO the other day. This is the first of a long list.
Lots of other spacecraft and other automated surveys exist either dedicated to finding NEOs, or which will do so when one sails through it's field of view whilst it's staring at other targets. LINEAR is a good start if you're interested.
I think you're going to need a bigger tin-foil hat. Made out of many thousands of tons of bedrock.
(Apologies if this is a dupe, El Reg (or my Firefox nightly build) hung when I hit "Submit" the first time round... I trust the firm lash of /B/-discipline will be wielded if this is a re-post)
A hat tip to Ben Goldacre (aka @bengoldacre, http://twitter.com/bengoldacre ) would have been nice.
The project team had recently announced that they were about to try something that they'd previously said would be a last desperate, nothing-to-lose technique - using the robot arm to try to move dust and sand out of the way of the wheels. (The main problem with this, apart from it being very unlikely to help, is that it might well b0rk the scientific instruments on the end of the arm, eg. the Mossbauer spectrometer. However they then unexpectedly tried a new driving technique: reversing, which is to say moving further along in the direction it was going when it first got stuck. (Spirit's been mostly driving backwards for a couple of years now, since the front-right wheel popped. It's much easier to drag than push a locked-up wheel, of course.) To general astonishment in the community, progress has been pretty dramatic -several cm of movement, which is more than has been seen since last May. She's definitely not out of the woods yet - in fact hasn't quite reached the end of the track she'd followed when driving into the hidden crater in the first place - but it was looking promising at least.
Hurrrm well, have to wait til I get home and jump on the forum to find out WTF gives.
A "develooper" or "dev-looper" is a programmer who is round the twist, mad as a sack of snakes, or a couple of drives short of a RAID shelf. Or, to put it another way, someone who thinks Java is superior to Perl.
Big thumbs up to the IT manager. Sounds like a good place to work - not that drunken stupidity is tolerated, but that they're not vindictive and petty minded. Good on ya!
- IT bloke publishes comprehensive maps of CALL CENTRE menu HELL
- Nine-year-old Opportunity Mars rover sets NASA distance record
- Prankster 'Superhero' takes on robot traffic warden AND WINS
- Analysis Who is the mystery sixth member of LulzSec?
- Comment Congress: It's not the Glass that's scary - It's the GOOGLE