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* Posts by Alan Johnson

62 posts • joined 1 Sep 2008

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Torvalds rails at Linux developer: 'I'm f*cking tired of your code'

Alan Johnson

Re: Mozilla

"Those sensitive gay people ruin everything huh? At least the UK establishment has never persecuted gay computer scientists. Oh wait that's right they basically murdered one of the greatest in history".

I am no fan of 'the establishment' but he was not 'basically murdered'. He was treated badly but they did not come close to murdering him. It is far from clearthat Alan Turing committed suicide. It is quite possible he died due to a stupid error but if he did commit suicide it was his own decision and not remotely forced upon him.

I do not understand the desire to turn a talented mathematician into some sort of martyred saint. Let his achievements stand for themselves without the embellishment of martyrdom.

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EXPOSED: bizarre quantum sibling LOVE TRIANGLE

Alan Johnson

No information transfer faster than speed of light

What this and other older experiments demonstrate is that QM is inherently non-local. Incredibly QM manages to be non-local yet prevents information transfer using the non-local nature. This is amazing when you think about it.

The non-locality also means it is not necessarily true that QM is inherently random, non-local hidden variables could be present and depending on your personal bias this may seem more or less likely than th3 traditional view.

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iOS 7's weak random number generator stuns kernel security – claim

Alan Johnson

Re: Never use RAND()

From the code Marsaglia's is just an LCG - nothing wrong with that of course as long as the values are well chosen. Efficency wise I do not see the benefit of the 64 bit multiply all the upper bits get dropped later anyway. I like having more state than the output so if you have a 32 bit output you have 64 bits of state and a period (with well chosen constants) of 2^64-1.

Teh real point is use a PRNG for test data, simulation, monter carlo methods, padding etc but not cryptographic key generation etc.

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Modern spying 101: How NSA bugs Chinese PCs with tiny USB radios - NYT

Alan Johnson

Re: Proving His Enemies Right

The US spy plane was flying right on the border of chinese airspace playing a game of chicken with the chinese airforce pilot who was trying to ensure the US spy plane did not enter chinese airspaces when both planes collided. The chinese plane and pilot were lost the US plane was only damaged.

It is very unclear and probably unknowable whether the US pilot, chinese pilot or both made the fatal mistake but the entire situation was instigated by the aggressive and provocative actions of US spy planes flying straight at the border of chinese airspace and seeing how they reacted.

Potrraying this as chinese agression is very misleading

10
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How Britain could have invented the iPhone: And how the Quangocracy cocked it up

Alan Johnson

No Sympathy - whining because one of many possible funding sources was used and they did not give as much funding as needed is entirely the guys fault. Why did he agree and sign a contract if they were only providing a derisory 20K an order of magnitude less than required to get to a manufacturable product? Thsi smacks of wishful thining by someone without any sort of commercial clue. yes the British establsihment is woefully bad at supporting industry with a shockingly poor understanding of science, tehcnology and how to get things done but they are at least trying. The fact they gave money to someone who is commercially naise and incompotent reflects badly on all parties but the prime responsibility for failure belongs firmly with the guy who conceive dthe idea and set up th eproject and company not a government body who provided funding.

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MPs: Ancient UK Border Force systems let GANGSTERS into Blighty

Alan Johnson

IT is not the issue

The very best an IT system can do is to assist in making decisions about which shipments, planes etc are high risk. Any sensible strategy has to include an element of random inspection to account for the certainty that there may be things we do not know and potential smugglers may anticipate what is and isn't considered high risk. Any sensible analysis has to assume that our risk categorisation will not be perfect. A potential 200 records that may be missed out of 650,000 does not sound that terrible to me.

If we have politicians trying to imply that border security could or should be perfect that is a bigger problem, potentially leading to all sorts of broken decision making.

4
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Call yourself a 'hacker', watch your ex-boss seize your PC without warning

Alan Johnson

Re: CEH'ers

Hacker has many meanings and is still in use to simply mean someone who codes quickly, perhaps without a formal design and likes playing with code. This was the original meaning in a computer context.

Descrbing oneself as a hacker absolutely is not equivalent to saying you are interested or expert in security areas let alone you are someone who illegally attacks systems.

The verb hack to mean quickly modify code is still very widely used.

1
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Boffins hide supercapacitors on silicon chips

Alan Johnson

Re: Still some way short of LiPo cells though

No idea whether your calculation is correct but the point about super capacitors is the very rapid charge and discharge capability and the number of cycles. They have nothing like the energy density of a battery. They can be used where batteries cannot and often make sense in conjuction with a battery to handle pulse power demands for example in a GSM mobile phone they make sense in addition to the lithium cell to make the most of the battery by evening out demand. Improvements to super caps are useful and integration within an IC is intriguing although I suspect a long way off. Integrating decoupling capacitance which needs good high frequency response seems a more urgent need in most applications.

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Microsoft: Surface a failure? No, it made us STRONGER

Alan Johnson

Re: they must be doing something wrong....

Even if you think SW patents are acceptable FAT32 is an issue.

The problem with the FAT32 patent is that it is a stunningly obvious solution to a problem that only existed because of the pathetic design of FAT. The value of FAT32 patent is only FAT32's status as a de facto standard. Nobody designing a new filesytem would do anything as broken as FAT32. Patents that reward obvious solutions are bad because they inhibit innovation and competition. Patents whose only value is to allow implementation of a de facto standard and have no independant technical worth are very worrying especially when they are not offered under RAND terms.

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UK investor throws £14.8m at firm that makes UNFORGEABLE 2-cent labels

Alan Johnson

No credibility

All credibility is lost with the statement that it is impossible to forge. A statement that it is hard or expensive to forge I could live with. I suspect any money invested has been thrown away.

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Oh noes! New 'CRISIS DISASTER' at Fukushima! Oh wait, it's nothing. Again

Alan Johnson

Re: At the risk of...

The more we learn about the reality of worst cas enuclear accidents the more we find that reactors ar esfaer than we though much less radioactivity is released than was assumed in modelling. If you compare the worst impact of a catastrophic ereactor failure, chrenobyl with atotal death toll of immediate and long tern affects of far less than 100 to the worst case effects of other industries and power sources you realise that not only is nuclear much safer on average but the worst case impact is relatively benign. A quick comparisson to the worst renewable energy disater with 170,000 dead and several towns wiped form the map is significant but strangely ignored by greanpeace etc.

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Big blue Avatar movie spawns THREE SEQUELS

Alan Johnson

Re: Great

I am stunned anyone can use the word good in association with the star wars prequels.

Avatar has a dull predictable and cliched plot poorly acted. It was saved by stunning visual effects. This will be harder to pull off with every following film. If the plot and dialogue are as bad as the star wars prequels they will be truely awful films.

Nothing says the sequels have to be poor but the omens are not good.

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SMBs are tumbling into the cloud? Oh get real

Alan Johnson

Where is the business case?

Until there is a substantial business case the cloud will remain an amorphous meaningless buzzword for most SMEs - appropriate name really.

6
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Radar gremlins GROUND FLIGHTS across southern Blighty

Alan Johnson

Re: Good

What makes too many?

I work extremely close to heathrow and it is remarkable how quiet the aircraft are nowadays. Modern economies are founded on easy communication and travel. I think there are far too few aircraft over SE england caused by the paralysis of our political and planning system that makes it impossiblw to sensibly increase capacity. This is damaging the UK economy and therefore jobs etc.

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UK Post Office admits false accusations after computer system cockup

Alan Johnson

Re: No systemic problem?

Is it possible to have a non-systemic SW problem? There are reasons problems may be intermittant, caused by uninitialised data, race conditions etc but at the end of the day they are caused by flaws in the SW system.

In the interests of justice they need to discols ethe nature of the problems they have identified. I am very suspicous that the problems were widespread and frequent. A very occasional problem would never have go to this stage.

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Cosmic blast mystery solved in neutron star's intense death throes

Alan Johnson

Re: Magnetic field

Maxwells equations elegant as they are are not the way to look at this. There is one four vector 'field' (mathematically a field but usually called a potential as the normal magnetic and electric field is derived from it. There is only one equation and it is obvious the electric and magnetcic fields are just observer specific ways of looking at it.

1
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MSX: The Japanese are coming! The Japanese are coming!

Alan Johnson

Re: Error

The 8088 was not an 8 bit microprocessor.

The 8088 and 8086 had a 16 bit architecture - 16 bit registers, arithmetic, addressing etc.

The 8088 did have an 8 bit external interface, the 8086 had a 16 bit external interface.

They both had a nasty, badly designed architecture and the 8088 in paticular was dog slow for its generation.

What is sobering as engineers to realise is that of the first generation of sixteen bit processors: 68K, 8086, Z8000, 32K the 8086 was by far the worst yet by far the most successful.

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Surprise! Intel smartphone trounces ARM in power trials

Alan Johnson

LIes damn lies and benchmarks

Benchmarks are notoriously 'fixable' and a benchmark that is not even described is a joke.

Intel may or may not have overtaken arm but this benchmark suggests that Intel is inferior to Arm if they were better why do this dodgy benchmark why not do a real one and publish the details.

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Jailed LulzSec hacker Cleary coughs to child porn images, will be freed soon

Alan Johnson

Re: No child porn involved

Fair enough I assumed the Copine scale.

On the SAP scale this clearly is pornographic and rightly punished as long as knowingly downloaded etc.

Do you usually filter because a comment is factually wrong?

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Alan Johnson

No child porn involved

You have to be veyr very careful with the COPINE scale, he confessed to accesing at worst level 4 images. This is defined as:

'deliberately posed pictures of children fully clothed, partially clothed or naked (where the amount, context and organisation suggests sexual interest).'

You have to get to level 5 for what most people would consider mildly pornographic images. Until then the context of the images is at least as important as the content which should be very disturbing.

The teacher who accepts a caution and there was a fuss about being alowed to teach was found to have acessesed level 1 images defined as:

'Non-erotic and non-sexualised pictures showing children in their underwear, swimming costumes from either commercial sources or family albums. Pictures of children playing in normal settings, in which the context or organisation of pictures by the collector indicates inappropriateness.'

The real worry is that someones life can be destroyed for possessing 'Pictures of children playing in normal settings'. More or less anyone who possesses a computer can be conficted of child sexual offences at the whim of the authorities. Long term this will undermine child protection as accusations and convictions sexual abuse and child pornography will lose any meaning.

The danger from organisations like CEOP is substantial to both adults and children but our tabloid media continue to drive us in a very dangerous diretcion.

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Microsoft parades Windows 8.1, the version you may actually want

Alan Johnson

Re: What would really make a huge difference is fixing the license

I am really interested why no GPL and no LGPL.

LGPL Is a completely benign license from a users perspective I really struggle to think of any reason not to use LGPL software.

GPL can have issues if you develop and distribute software you do not want to open source but even then only for software components. Tools and platforms have no problem and

If you need certified tools if developing high SIL level SW or similarGPLed tools could be an issue but they are usually better than the commercial alternatives ignoring the price advantage.

What is the problem your employer and customers are concerned about?

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Iran fingered for attacks on US power firms

Alan Johnson

Re: Utter nonsense

'As displayed so well by missile boats and patrol boats harassing US Navy vessels traversing the Strait of Hormuz. Or by repeatedly threatening to blow Israel off of the map. Or by denying the Holocaust'

But Iran has never theatened to blow Israel of the map or harassed US naval vessels.

They do sponsor Holocaust denial so that part at least is not propoganda but given the way Israel wields the holocaust as a justification to perform acts of aggression while claiming victimhood it is understandable if reprehensible.

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Alan Johnson

Utter nonsense

We are expected to believe on the basis of unattributted quotes from US officials that Iran has launched a cyber attack on the US.

The Iranian leadership is not stupid they know they are the focus of constant propoganda and that Israel and the US would love a pretext to attack them so why would they launch what could only be an ineffectual attack of no consequence except to give Israel and the US what they want?

Iran has shown itself to be remarkably cool headed. They have been the victim of cyber attacks from the US, they have been the subject of attacks by Israeli death squads, they have had a civillian airliner shot down by the US w and they have suffered US sponsored terrorist attacks. Through it all they have been remarkably restrained apart from the Lockerbie bombing for which they managed to get Libya to take the blame.

The chancethey would do something this stupid is minimal.

The chancethat the US would lie about it as a pretext is quite high.

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'Catastrophic failure' of 3D-printed gun in Oz Police test

Alan Johnson

Re: A Controvertial Topic (for a change)

OK I will bite.

The opposite is true and the fact that the overall crime rate in the US is slightly lower than the UK but the murder rate is much much higher is just one of many statistics which show the complete opposite. It would be interesting what explanation other than bizzare US attitude and laws about guns is suggested to explain this.

4
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Texan contends iPod EXPLODED IN HER FACE

Alan Johnson

Re: 'medical bills of an astronomical "amount in excess of $600.00,"'

You can have a CT scan in china for about 25$

0
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US woman cuffed for 'booking strippers for 16th birthday bash'

Alan Johnson

Even more ridiculous case when I lived in the US

When I lived in the US a local women was convicted of a crime of moral turpitude with 3 months in jail for arranging her sons 17th Birthday party. He had several friends round to her house who stayed overnight. She took all their car keys and then gave them a crate of beer. Seems very good responsible parenting to me but resulted in 3 months in jail. I had always wondered what the heck a crime of moral turpitude was on the visa waiva form so then I knew - responsible parenting.

The US is strangely alien and scary at times. I had a coworker tell me that she was looking forward to Nuclear war because all the true christains would go to heaven and all the rest straight to hell. She got annoyed when I disputed this. It makes me laugh when US politiians go on about religuous fundamentalisim as a threat to justify killing large numbers of civilians and poorly armed soldiers. I have been to many countries but by far the most dangerously fundamentalist is the US.

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Swartz prosecutor: We only pushed for 'six months' in the cooler

Alan Johnson

No one knows and no one will now know whether he was guilty of anything. He has at least a reasonable defence that he committed no crime at all. He had permission to use the network and he had permission to download the documents. Some of the charges seem without any foundation at all for example 'reckless damage to a protected computer system' .

The problem is completely disproportionate punishments for computer crimes and the plea bargain system. The combination drives people to think they have no alternative but to acept significant punishments without any chance to proof their innocence because of massively disproportionate sentance if they please innocent and are unlucky.

Computer crimes can be serious but when unauthorised log on to an insecure system of no real significance is classified as cyber terrorism there is a problem akin to the witch trials of the past.

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Alan Johnson

No one knows and no one will now know whether he was guilty of anything. He has at least a reasonable defence that he committed no crime at all. He had permission to use the network and he had permission to download the documents. Some of the charges seem without any foundation at all for example 'reckless damage to a protected computer system' .

The problem is:

Completely disproportionate punishments were computer crimes are concerne din the US.

Plea bargain system

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Apple-v-Samsung $1bn iPhone fine: 'Jury foreman was biased'

Alan Johnson

Bias is not the main argument

The guy may or may not have been biased but the more substantial problem is that he has publically stated that he advised the jury on what was or was not valid prior art, and that this made a big difference to the jury. His stated criteria for the prior art was totallly, laughably wrong, going completely against the Judges directions and common sense for anyone with any sort of technical background.

Samsungs main defence was prior art so his intervention removed any chance (IMO) of samsung receiving a fair trial. The judge in this case doe snot seem to have been very even handed and judges are rightly reluctant to use jury conduct to overturn verdicts so we will hav to wait and see.

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Sellafield's nuclear waste measured in El Reg units

Alan Johnson

Re: research is boring and facts ruin a story

The release of Caesium from Chernobyl has not been associated with any health impact at all. the only radiological effect on the population was a small increase in thyroid cancer presumed due to the I-131 release and probably the poor response of the soviet authorities as this has a short half life, it can be mitigated by advice over a period of weeks after release, the use of iodine supplements and monitoring for thyroid cancer. The number of extra deaths from thyroid cancer was from memory ~9 which is obviously a tragedy to those concerned but insignificant compared to say deaths from a single accident in the transport industry and compared to the worst ever renewable energy disaster it is very very very small approximately 10,000 times smaller in terms of deaths let alone environmental damage.

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Alan Johnson

Re: "barely radioactive at all"

I can't decide if NomNomNom has written a parody of the typical hysteria induced by ignorance of radiation, radiation safety and risk, combined with the media hyperbola and distortions or it actually is ignorant and ridiculous hysteria.

If Fukishima did teach us anything it is that even very old Nuclea rpower plants when hit by massive natural catastrophies and subject to unexpected combinations of evenst are very very safe.

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Alan Johnson

Rename all things nuclear

THE problem with nuclear waste as with all things nuclear is the word 'nuclear' at which point al debate becomes irrational and the media loves to scare the population. 26 Swimming pools is a tiny volume of waste compared to the vast amount of waste some of it hazardous generated annually about whcih nobody pays very much attention.

The great ething about nuclear waste is it is easy to track an dthe more active waste decays relatively rapdily.

I have a suggestion that we rename nuclear power stations to chromodynamic power stations and nuclear waste as residual power resource. We may then have some sort of rational debate.

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US accused of hypocrisy over cyber warfare

Alan Johnson

Talk Softly and carry a big stick

I do not remember CHurchill saying talk softly and carry a big stick. H emay have said something like it but he certainly did not originate it. It is such an obvious saying that I doubt anyone knows who truely originated it. The whole point of the expression though is that you should hav eth emeans to defend yourself so that an attack would obviously be risky and costly but you should not provoke potential enemies.

This is the complete opposite of the typcial US approach which is to threaten and attack who have not attacked or threatened them. In the hope of cowing them into following the US' preferred polciies. In some cases works in some cases not but in all cases it increases tension, resentment against the US and levels of violence. In the past it forced many countries to ally themselves with the USSR. Nowadays it is helping sustain the taliban and other extremist groups and is the main reason why we believe Iran is aiming at having the capability to make a nuclear weapon - it is there only sensible means of defence.

I am suprised that anyonewas remotely suprised that the US is the main aggressor in cyber attacks as this is simply an extension of the pattern for military aggression since world war II.

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New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD

Alan Johnson

The problem with any discussion of nuclear power is the emotional association between nuclear power, radiation and safety. A big part of teh problem is teh strong nuclear/radiation related safety culture. There is actually no strong evidence that low levels of radiation are a health hazard at all. Studies of radiation workers show they are healthier than average and once corrected for other factors; profession, environment, diet, smoking etc the health effects are tiny in boith directions and almost certainly artefacts of the statistics. A strong argumnet to me is that there is no observed correlation between high natural radiation levels and lower life expectancy.

As radiation was a new hazard a very very cautious approach was taken the effects of high levels of exposure were scaled down linearly to low doses. This is almost certainly an over estimate but it is cautious. On top of this very cautious safety limits were set based on this assumption. No other area takes such a cautious approach. Paradoxically it has increased fears because the extremely low limits are breached when incidents occur and it makes a good story. The thing to remember is that at these dose levels no health effect has been observed.

The other thing that occurs is people take these extrapolated low probability health effects and multiply them by huge population numbers generating scary numbers for example 2500 dying in an earlier comment. This is crazy from several points of view. Most radiation exposure is natural, there are many many more important risk factors we never treat in the same way or consider at all. The radiation emitted by fossil fuesl for example coal fire power statiosn dwarfs that from nuclear power stations.

We should argue about nuclear power based on cost, availability and dependability, not safety as it is far safer than anything else, but it is bogged down by emotional baggage. Future historians will regard attitudes to nuclear as bizzare and incomprehensible. Wind power is almost the opposite, completely impractical, almost no environmental benefit, extremely expensive but with positive emotional associations

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Alan Johnson

Re: we know that nuclear power is safe - becaus of Chernobyl

Chernobyl demonstartes that nuclea rpower is safe not that it is dangerous. I am using the normal definition of safe: 'freedom from unacceptable risk'.

Chenrobyl was a ridiculous design reactor which was recklessly managed and which as a consequence suffered the worst failure imaginable. The reactor core exploded and caught fire, there was a meltdown.

The point is not that even old western designs are much safer, or that modern designs are safer still or that a good safty culture would have prevente dthe acciddent but all are true. The point is that Chernobyl is pretty much the worst that coudl happen and the consequences were not very severe. Roughly sixty workers died. There have been 9 additional deaths of non-workers due to increased levels of thyroid cancer and that is pretty much it apart from psychological problems caused by fear of consequences.

In the grand scheme of thinsg one accident of this severity is better than most industries certainly better than renewable energy. The worst renewable energy accident I am aware of killed more than 30,000 people and caused massive destruction of property.

Three mile island and Fukishima are examples of the double standards applied to nuclear, nobody died or was ever likely to die in either case. The fact that these are brought up shows how extremely safe nuclear is. In what other industry would people constantly mention accidents in which no one was hurt?

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Iranian nuke plants rocked in midnight 'heavy metal blast'

Alan Johnson

Re: David Webb

".....Iran has a much better record with respect to agression against other countries than the US, Britain or Israel...." You are merely showing your lack of knowledge in the matter, try some more reading like the following just for a start (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1994_AMIA_bombing and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Kuwait_bombings).

The fact that your argument is relatively small incidents and not full scale invasions or prolonged bombing campaigns makes it clear that Iran's alleged aggression while reprehensible is very minor compared to the US Israel etc. I dislike religous based government including Iran's but Iran has shown itself to be more moderate and restrained than the government of US, Israel or Britain at least so far as the conduct of it's foreign policy.

You seem to have missed the significance of my reference to wipe 'Israel from the map' this was deliberate? mistranslation of a speech that is frequently used to argue that Iran would use it's nuclear weapons against Israel. There is no evidence of this. Why should Iran not argue against the religous state of Israel? The US used to argue very strongly against the soviet union. This is very far from contemplating using nuclear weapons.

The idea the US would perform a nuclear first strike against Iran is chilling but inline with the two most profoundly disturbing conversations I have had. The first was in the USA with a lady who believed that the bible foretold a nuclear war and that it would be a good thing as all the bad people would go to hell and the good to heaven. The scary thing bwas that it was obviously a common belief in her church.

The second was in Israel where I met a lady whose son was shot in the head by the IDF while standing in front of palestinian children wearing a luminous jacket to try and reduce the number of school children killed by IDF snipers. The most disturbing thing being the IDF tried to stop her son recieving medical treatment.

Fortunately although religous bigotry and fanaticism is a problem in the US and Israel I think that just like Iran the leaders would not perform a nuclear first strike.

It is strange to argue against Iran having nuclear weapons because they may attack another state by arguing that other states would perform a nuclear attack on Iran.

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Alan Johnson

Re: David Webb

@Matt Bryant

"Thirdly, even the simple nukes the Iranians are trying to produce will be much more refined and deadly than Little Boy or Fat Man, and will used on civillian targets simply because the Iranians don't have the tech to make targeted strikes. So your cheerleading for Iran is just underlines your own lack of knowledge."

It is an incredible assumption that they WILL be used. Iran has a much better record with respect to agression against other countries than the US, Britain or Israel. Despite the proganda they did not threaten to 'wipe Israel off the map'. They have been the subject of a brutal invasion supported by the US which included the use of chemical weapons, they have had civilian airliners shot down, they are surrounded by nuclear powers some of which are openly hostile and two neighbours have been nvaded and devasted by the US which frequently threatens them. They have been subject to a long running terrorist campaign probably originating in Israel.

If I was in government in Iran and I looked at Iraq which complied with UN resolutions and was then invaded and devasted I would consider it irresponsible and negligent not to do everything possible to develop nuclear weapons as the only way to provide security and protect Iranian citizens. This is the real reason the US etc consider Iran is developing nuclear weapons they know it is the only sensible policy for Iran.

If Iran had nuclear weapons all that would change is that threats against Iran would be less credible and the risk of an attack and invasion of Iran would decline to negligible levels.

3
3

New lightest-ever material: Ideal power for electric car

Alan Johnson

Re: Germans will save us?

We are funding fusion research but fission works very well and is well established and much safer than fossil fuels and renewables.

0
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CERN catches a glimpse of Higgs-like boson

Alan Johnson

We know the standard model is not the end

That theory (the standard model) describes the entire physical universe, every bit and piece that makes up everyone and every visible thing and the forces that act between them.

Actually it does not. It does not describe gravity, does not account for the dark energy and dark matter observations, does not account for the observed Neutrino oscillation (meaning Neutrinos have mass), has difficulties at high energies. It also does not explain why we see three families of particles identical apart from mass ,and why the families have the members that they do have.

All in all it is very clear that there is physics beyond the standard model, the problem is that we do not know what it is and desperately need new experimental evidence.

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Alan Johnson

W eknow the standard model is not the end

That theory (the standard model) describes the entire physical universe, every bit and piece that makes up everyone and every visible thing and the forces that act between them.

Actually it does not. It does not describe gravity, does not account for the dark energy and dark matter observations, does not account for the observed Neutrino oscillation (meaning Neutrinos have mass), has difficulties at high energies. It also does not explain why we see three families of particles identical apart from mass ,and why the families have the members that they do have.

All in all it is very clear that there is physics beyond the standard model, the problem is that we do not know what it is and desperately need new experimental evidence.

2
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El Reg posts dirty pics for old computer buffs

Alan Johnson

H/W fix- yes

The solution to metastability of putting two (or more) D-types in series is not a stupid solution.

If you have an asynchronous input which needs to be used by a synchronous system you have to synchronise the input somehow. Depending on the clock frequency, rate of change of the input, metastable window and the metastable lifetime you can calculate the probability of a metastable, oscillating or invalid output from the last D type and you can then choose sufficent D-types to make that probability sufficently low to meet the reliability requirmenst for the system.

This is how I have always seen it done and i can't think of way of avoiding it. I have seen people try but they end up creating their own latches out of async logic whch is really just the same but with worse and ill defined characteristics.

There should be no setup and hold time violations from the synchronous part of the systems. That is a design mistake.

1
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Software bug fingered as cause of Aussie A330 plunge

Alan Johnson

Not an Airbus design philosphy problem

This issue was clearly not related to any possible human interaction design philosphy difference between airbus and Boeing.

There was a fault in an ADIRU which generated erroneous data periodically. The FCPC was designed to use data from 3 ADIRUs to ensure it was using valid data but the specific pattern of erroneous data was not detected resulting in erroneous data being used. The failure mode of the ADIRU was not identified by the manufacturer of the ADIRU in its failure/hazard analysis and is still not understood.

If there is any blame to airbus it is in the algorithms used to handle and check the 3 sets of ADIRU data. This is not described but it sounds like there is an assumption that faulty ADIRU data will be persistently faulty. This is nothing to do with human interaction design.

0
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Plague of US preachers falsely claim to be Navy SEALs

Alan Johnson

DIsgraceful Kerry slur campaign.

"John Kerry's dubious claim "

There is no credible evidence that any of John Kerry's many decorations were anything but deserved. The success of this smear shows how ruthless politicans can be and the incredibly right wing bias of the US media. It may well have made the difference in a very close election.

It makes me angry whenever I hear about it and I am not even american and do not support any US political party.

4
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Fukushima fearmongers are stealing our Jetsons future

Alan Johnson

hysterical nonsense

Your whole post simply reinforce sthe point that nucelar fears are exagerrated past th epoint at which they ar irrational to hysterical levels:

1. Oneof teh safest things about nuclear energy is that radio isotopes can be tracked and identified in tiny quantities. Tiny quantities of plutonium are not toxic in any normal sense.

2. There is no t reason except irrational hysteria why any land need be lost from human habitation except the site of the power plant itself and this shoudl continue to be used as a power plant.

3. There is absolutely no chance of a catastrophic explosion at this point

4. A radiologic or dirty bomb is a fantasy. Analysis has been performed which suggest it would be no more fatal than an ordinary bomb using the same explosives. This is why the major powers do not have them they are completely pointless while being difficult to make and easy to detect.

5. Yes the tsunami has been a catstrophic event to Japan which rather proves the point that the tsunami is the story and nuclear power is not.

13
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Praying for meltdown: The media and the nukes

Alan Johnson

Anti-science mythology is pervasive and powerful

The mythology caught Andrew as well, a dirty bombs if built would be little more dangerous than an ordinary bomb with the same explosive power.

I do not have the confidence that the public is immune to this doom mongering. Power supply policy in the UK encourages wind power which has almost every conceivable disadvantage for a power source; uneconomic, unreliable, low capacity. The only advantage is that in the current mythology it is a safe 'comfortable' option. Cynically the politicians are buying green votes at the expense of the overall economy, energy security and to an extent safety

6
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Fukushima scaremongers becoming increasingly desperate

Alan Johnson

Callous and ihumane reporting of events

Tens of thosuands have died. There is immense hardship and huge numbers of peopel will be affected for a very long time. There have been catastrohpic failures of safety systems (Tsunami defences) resulting in many deaths.

What is reported?

DIstortion ridden nuclear hypebole relating to miniscule future risks.

Why does the media prefer this to real stories? It shows a deeply cynical and callous disregard for the suffering caused by the real disaster in Japan.

18
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Twitter joke martyr loses appeal

Alan Johnson

Very worrying judgement

One has to wonder about the judge:

If the message was obviously threatening then why did all of the professionally paranoid people concerned decide to take no action? This seems stroing objective evidence that it was not threatening.

Where is the objective evidence that the security threat to the country is substantial? Terrorist attacks are at the lowest level in my lifetime and the risk of death or injury from such an attack is far lower than accidental death or even murder by a family member.

Where is the evidence that the message was intended to threaten? I simply do not understand how anyone, even a judge, could read the message and believe it was intended as anything but a joke.

1
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Tinfoil 'radiation shield' maternity wear hits 'Frisco

Alan Johnson

Ignorance and scaremongering

'We all know that little kids are very sensitive to radiation (which is why the normal advisory is to NOT give them a mobile phone), so imagine the effect of radiation on an organism in full development'

Sensitive to what sort of radiation? I do not think your statement is true even for ionising radiation but lower limits are applied as a precaution for pregnant women.

Repeated studies have failed to show any effect fo non-ionising radiation which is all that is blocked by this product. There is advice not to give kids a mobile phone based on the precautionary principle. This a serious mistake because it is seized upon by ignorant F***wits as evidence of danger when in fact it is only evidence of excessive caution.

4
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C language inventor spurns Google's language exam

Alan Johnson

I'm Supprised (2)

"I've got degrees, taught students, and published articles so I resent being made to undertake basic literacy and numeracy tests just because they are a formality."

I'm amazed people think this is unreasonable. No one should mind being asked to demonstrate their expertise. Paper qualifications are almost useless in determining ability to perform a job.

One of the worst programmers I have worked with (in the bottom 10%) had a PhD and was a university lecturer in software. People with PhDs are either very good or totally usueless with the useless outnumbering the good about two to one, severe problems with basic communication skills is one of the common issues.

Basic numeracy and literacy tests are not a formality they are essential, especially for those who have degrees and taught students.

0
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US feds squeeze bloggers for posting TSA orders

Alan Johnson

Another step of the ratchet

The majority of 'new' security measures are intended to create the impression of security through the imposition of very visible and inconvenient measures rather than the reaility of security. The inconvenience makes the measures extremely noticeable and people feel they are participating in security by tolerating the inconevenienece. The fact the measures are unplatable makes them more effective as a means of reassurance and demonstrates that all possible measures are being taken.

The issue is that they do not make any sense and do not increase security in any meaningful way. What is special about the last hour of flight? The restrictions are risible.

The realility is that all activities have a risk associated with them. The risk can be reduced by taking measures which have other costs in terms of cost, efficency, inconvenience etc.The sensible approach is to balance the risk against the costs associated with reducing the risk.

In place of a realistic debate about the risks of terrorims versus the costs of control measures we have fatuous statemnets about taking all possible measures. The same is true of all public discussions of risk for example car accidents or child abuse. The absoilute nature of ' all possible measures' andthe generally wide acceptance of such an absolute statement means it can be used to justify anything at all.

The terrorist threat we face now is far less than when I was a boy facing the terrorist campaigns of the IRA, yet we take far more draconian steps now than we did then. There an is no discussion of the origins of the threat in foreign policy. That does not mean we should change policy but if we discussed the risks and costs of policies then we would at least make conscious decisions rather than drifting into totalatarianism.

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