* Posts by Alan Johnson

114 posts • joined 1 Sep 2008

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Fatal flaws in ten pacemakers make for Denial of Life attacks

Alan Johnson

Need a sense of proportion

To summarise a technically sophisticated attacker can cause serious consequences possibly death to a patient up to 5 metres away.

So what? A technically sophisticated attacker within 5 meters can kill anyone at all.

Why is this considered surprising or concerning?

A pacemaker is in the highes trisk category of medical devices (class III) and the design, risk management and testing will have been looked at in detail. The risk management will have included hacking scenarios but it was probably considered that if an attacker needed to be within 5 metres, needed special equipment and needed to be technically sophisticated the risk was acceptable. At the end of the day if any of us are targeted by a determined and sophisticated attacker who has physical access to us then we are in trouble.

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Leaked paper suggests EM Drive tested by NASA actually works

Alan Johnson

Re: If the EM drive works it's not just physics that's broken but mathematics

Conservation laws, like the conservation of momentum that the EM drive would break if it works, can be derived mathematically, see Noether's theorem.

Yes but you have to assume Langragian mechanics or at least some action principle to do this and if you are going to make such a massive leap as conservation of momentum is broken then the whole basis of mechanics is undermined and you can forget an action principle/langragian etc. This is incredibly unlikely and the obvious explanation is just errors in the experiment. Arguing that you can derive conservation of momentum using Noether's theorem and symmetry is fine but to do it requires assuming a framework which is exactly what the observation if real would disprove.

An extraordinary claim like this requires extraordinary evidence and a single dodgy experiment with no peer review is not it. I think conservation of momentum will prevail.

0
1
Alan Johnson

Re: So these papers "leak"??

"It may actually be additional proof that the universe really does have more than the 3 dimensions we perceive (as does the way a neutrino keeps rolling through various flavours when observed"

The neutrino oscillations show the neutrino has mass because otherwise it would be incapable of changing but why does it imply multiple dimensions? Neutrino oscillations does show, along with many other things, that our understanding of physics is incomplete. The unknown physics could include more dimensions but equally may not. I think it should be assumed we have the usual unless a convincing experiment shows otherwise. Equally if the EM drive really is an effetc that cannot be explained using conventional physics, and we should be sceptical, why does it imply more dimensions?

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Trump's plan: Tariffs on electronics, ban on skilled tech migrants, turn off the internet

Alan Johnson

Re: Efficiency kills jobs -No it does not

If output is constant then yes employment would go down but it is absolutely clear that this does not happen.

The world economy for decade after decade after decade stretching out to centuries since the industrial revolution has demonstrated that this idea is completely false. There is little in economics that is more convincingly disproved than this idea. New jobs expand as productivity increases the wealth and prosperity of society as a whole. We have record high levels of paid employment at the moment and as productivity more or less increases monotonically record high productivity at the same time.

4
1

Pioneer slaps 80s LASERS on cars for driverless push

Alan Johnson

Regulations and irrational fear is not the problem

"However, the industry, much like the aviation sector which would also benefit from computer-controlled pilots, is being forced to move slowly due to regulations and the irrational human fear from loss of control. "

Nonsense.

Automatic pilots for routine tasks have been used in the aviation industry for a very long time but it is recognised that they have limits and human pilots are much better at handling exceptional circumstances, the comination is better than either alone so both are used. Generally the aviation task is easier because it is a much simpler less cluttered and more controlled environment, even so human pilots are needed for situations that automatic pilots cannot handle.

The same will be true for cars except there are probably many more exceptional conditions. At least one human has already died as a reuslt of an inappropriate level of trust in an automatic driving system. A healthy appreciation of the limitations and failings of human and automatic systems is a good thing. Regulations or irrational fear is not the limiting factor at the moment so much as immature technology. Some regulation is absolutely necessary and appropriate.

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Parliamentarians ask Obama to withdraw Lauri Love extradition request

Alan Johnson

Excessive punishment should be grounds to reject extradition

The issue to me is not the Asbergers but that ludicrous maximum sentance which will be used a a threat to coerce a guilty plea as part of the deepy unfair US 'justice' system.

That merely 'hacking' into a system carries this sor tof sentanc ewithout fraud or attemtps to injure or damage is ridiculous. Fraud itself should not carry this sort of sentance. If he was facing a maxium of 3 years if found guilty but a more probable 1 year then this would be a completely different situation and I would support extradition. 99 years for someone who commits a non-violent but illegal act of political protest is more commonly associated with the worst kind of military dictatorships. Excessive sentances should be grounds to refuse extradition.

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7

Microsoft boffins: Who needs Intel CPUs when you've got FPGAs?

Alan Johnson

Nothing like the Xerox Alto

"I've been following Ken Shirriff's blog as he helps to get an old Xerox Alto up and working. One of the (many!) things that impressed me with this machine, was that you could add new instruction codes to the CPU on the fly.

Sounds a bit like an early FPGA to me."

No it was a microcoded arhitecture with a writeable control store. Quite common in the era of bit slice and nothing like an FPGA in architecture or in the challenge of programming it (If you consider designing an FPGA programming).

Microcode is sequential programs albeit with very wide instruction words and a direct connetcion to the hardware. a FPGA is nothing like this basically a sea of bit level connection and logic resources.

7
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Smell burning? Samsung’s 'Death Note 7' could still cause a contagion

Alan Johnson

Re: Is Apple to Blame? Conspiracy Theoriests Unite!

What is this based on. Do you actually have inside knowledge? Why if it is that simple has it not been done? In every system I have designed the battery charge voltage limit is implemented in electronics and NOT software for very obvious reasons.

I call b******t.

1
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Black Hats control Jeep's steering, kill brakes

Alan Johnson

Re: Why? @chris miller

Any hack which requires a physical connection to the CAN bus is not really a hack. I could 'hack' an old fashioned hydraulic brake by inserting a valve which could be controlled remotely and release all the hydraulic fluid on command.

The ability to do this sort of thing without physical access would be a concern but that does not appear to be present.

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Dark scientists' LUX-ZEPLIN doubles down on WIMP hunt

Alan Johnson

Re: WIMPs are just a hypothesis

Your reply to my (anonymous) post: 'But theoretical physics is based on Mathematics, not observation. ' could not be more wrong.

Physics is and must be based on observation. If there is a conflict between theory and observation then the theory needs to change. There is some interaction becauus the experiments we perform are guided by theoretical knowledge and speculation but everything must be grounded on experiment.

In the case of WIMPs the theory (oe 'mathematics') is supersymmetry. The problem with supersymmetry is no supersymmetric particles have ever been observed and unles you adjust the theories to fit they should have been.

The idea that we have a perfect theory that nature conforms to and we need to just tick the boxes is totally wrong. The history of physics shoudl teach us humility, and if not that then the fact that our physical theories are incompatible with each other and break down at very small scales so must be incomplete approximations to reality.

WIMPs may exist or may not and if they do exist then they may arise from a supersymmetric theory or they may not. We do not know.

4
1

UK employers still reluctant to hire recent CompSci grads

Alan Johnson

Re: Interesting...

"One reason why I'm always wary of "experienced" programmers who were self-taught and came from a hardware or physics background for instance is that they can bash out code based on tutorials they've learned etc, but they don't really understand basics like what a pointer is"

My experience is the opposite that most CS graduates have no idea about what a pointer is, how a stack is used to pass parameters and allocate space for local variables and cannot function in an environment where memory and resources are not (mostly) automatically managed. A good way to test this is to give some example code that returns a pointer to a local variable and ask them to describe what can happen if you start to use that pointer. Most do not evn think it is a problem let alone give any sort of coherent description of why and what can happen. They can, to be fair, program badly in a scripting language and create web page but are incapable of real programming without extensive remedial education. Electronics and physics graduates however seem much stronger and quicker learners.

10
2

Ban ISPs from 'speeding up' the internet: Ex-Obama tech guru

Alan Johnson

Re: Eh...

Actually in the fibre the light will travel at c/n where n is the refractive index and signals* will travel at the group velocity, which for fibre will basically be the same.

Actually it is very clear what the guy is talking about throughput and latency for specific connections and these absolutely can be improved at the expensive of others. The whole basis of the article seems an unfairly pedantic reading of what is said. All of us must have used language at least this loosely but with it actually clear what we mean.

* There are rare circumstances when even this is not true if we want to be even more pedantic.

0
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Chicago cops under fire for astonishingly high dashcam, mic failures

Alan Johnson

Re: Technology New And Old.

You beat me to it. I am reasonably certain there is no such thing as a10" floppy disk. I remember 8" floppies, (they were very floppy) but I have never heard of a 10" and even google only seemed to return 8 inch versions. I think 8" floppies were teh first ever an dthey only got smaller from that point.

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Open letter from EPO staff pleads with country reps to fire president

Alan Johnson

Re: Talk about timing!

The EPO is not an EU organisation. If it was then these problem would not exist in the sense the president of the EPO would not be a president and could be sacked/disciplined in a normal way.

We should rememeber not everything with the word european in it is part of the EU and the UK has it's own share of dysfunctional organisations although this paticular saga does seem extraordinary.

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A Logic Named Joe: The 1946 sci-fi short that nailed modern tech

Alan Johnson

Re: *Remarkably* sharp prediction?

John Brunner published at leat four outstanding novels. His career seemd to fade away for no obvious reason.

0
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Wales gives anti-vaping Blockleiters a Big Red Panic Button

Alan Johnson

Re: Strange Sign

"It seems any regulation seems to be designed to prevent the use of these life saving devices, rather than improving quality."

This is nonsense. They certainly are not life saving devices. At best they are devices with no impact on health but with the strong potential for causing harm.

The purpose is to deliver an addictive pharmecutical to the user through the lungs. There are at least three potential risks, that there dangerous impurities, that the dose delivered is significantly higher than intended, that dangerous substances are generated by the vapourisation process (heating). The regulation that the register continues to rant against is very clearly aimed at controlling these hazards while allowing general use. It seems to me that the regulation is proportionate and sensible. It is reasonable to disagree with that opinion and with the detail of the regulation of E-cigarettes but unbalanced rants that compare regulation to the Nazis are not in any way reasonable. If there is going to be any error on the regulation of devices that supply addictive pharmecuticals with known hazardous effects into consumers lungs than I would prefer them to be on the cautious side.

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Alan Johnson

Re: Strange Sign

I think he probably meant alum which certainly was used to aduterate flour.

Another common thing was to use copper salts to make pickled vegetables greener which definitely is not harmless.

1
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Brexit: UK gov would probably lay out tax plans in post-'leave' vote emergency budget

Alan Johnson

"There is no way that the UK alone is going to get better terms than it gets as part of the EU which has a lot more clout in these situations"

Not only that but there will be overlapping periods of uncetainty for each country/block. Initially know one will know what is going to happen, then we will drop onto interim/default/de facto trading arrangements for each country, then there will be negotiations, finally there will be agreements. It will be tempting for countries to gain leverage by applying or thretening to apply punitive interim trading arrangements. Final agreements will take years, some will take a decade or more . It is very likely that there will be very few, possibly no, agreeements which are beneficial to the UK compared to the current EU based arrangements. There will be strong efforts to offusticate what the agreement means to save UK embarassment. Despite that the biggest damage will be in the long period of uncertainty. The uncertainty and poor agreements will be blamed on foreign governments rather than the predictable consequences of brexit.

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4

The ‘Vaping Crackdown’ starts today. This is what you need to know

Alan Johnson

Regulation is sensible the article is not

The purpose of an e-cigarette is to introduce a pharmecutical into the body through the lungs. The most common pharmecutical is very toxic and addictive.

There are obvious hazards of overdose an dthe introduction of unintended chemcials into the body.

The idea that this should not be regulated in some way is crazy. Traditional smoking is known to be very damaging to health. We have no long term data but have good reasons to vapping will be much less damaging to health, but given what is known about nicotine even if there are no unexpected effects, impurities, acccidental over doses etc then there will still be a negative imapct on health. This has to be regulated in the same way there are food safety regulations for example. Those regulations were introduced because peoples health was being damaged in some cases dying.

The fact that vapping is probably not a dangerous a smoking does not mean that we should not make them acceptably safe. I cannot comment on thd precise quantaties and concenrtaions but the proposed regulations seem sensible and not at all onerous as evidenced by the fact that the article itself says that it will not seem like a crackdown.

I was prompted to read the regulations by the articles clear bias. They are in the main very sensible requirements on reporting, labelling and obvious basic safety requirments. The only thing beyond this are concentration and volume limits which as a non-vapper I have no idea about but there are clear safety benefits to having such limits. The fact that he regulation is so light show sthat he benefits of vapping are appreciated and a sensible approach has been taken.

The EMC regulations for e-cigarrettes are more onerous than these. Andrew seems to have lost contact with reality.

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Hey British coders: DevOps – you're doing it wrong

Alan Johnson

Re: "lines of code produced or function points created" Nothing to do with ISO 9002

QMS standards like 9001 do NOT say that you must measure lines of code. They do say you should set measurable quality objectives and measure them. What you measure is up to you.

The problem is that it is very hard to think of good metrics for software development (or development in general). Even high level ones like delivery against original planned dates is difficult with dependancies on other groups, clients and changing requirments and environment.

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Good thing this dev quit. I'd have fired him. Out of a cannon. Into the sun

Alan Johnson

Re: Let me guess, that last one was an academic?

I actually quite like numrical recipes at least the numerical parts but the code style is awful, not least in the use of single letter variable names starting with a and working through the alphabet as if the length of variable name was related to efficiency or memory usage.

The attitude of mind was illustrated when I tried to compile the code that goes with the book on a unix system. The numerical recipes code had a function called 'select'. This caused a lot of header file/linking issues with the completely unrelated POSIX call of the same name. Anyway after working around the issue I sent a nice e-mail describing the problems and suggesting that in time they modified all of the function names by adding a prefix to make the names unique or at least much less likely to conflict. The reply was that they considered the problem a bug in the OS I was using and they had no intention of changing!

Maybe not an example of awful coding but an example of an awful attitude.

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When customers try to be programmers: 'I want this CHANGED TO A ZERO ASAP'

Alan Johnson

The comment about the one and zero sounds apocryphal

The comment is just too perfect and makes no explanation at all as to the mechanism or what the minor glitch is. It is also extremely unprofessional in tone. If such a serious situation can arise from such a small change is the whole design/architecture inappropriate? How do we know if some other bug may not cause a similar effect through a shared mechanism?

As for the prediction of the demise of a client company and the transfer of blame to the victim rather than those who wrote the software, it will appeal to those of us who code for a living, it makes us feel important and superior, but I suspect that a real story is being exaggerated or just made up.

3
1

BT dismisses MPs' calls to snap off Openreach as 'wrong-headed'

Alan Johnson

My experience of Openreach is that they are abysmal constantly missing promised appointments, then when arriving not having the ability to fix the problem and needing to call someone else, then missing some more appointments and only after several months fixing a line problem. When I complained I did not get very good mobile reception and therefore had no fallback phone or data services and that I would be charge dto us ethe visible BT network they suggested that if I changed to BT broadband as my ISP I would be able get free access on the visible BT hotspots.

They are a shockingly bad organisation who take unfair competition to new heights using their own poor performance to encourage transfer to BT as an ISP. It is difficult to imagine a successor organisation woudl nto be better.

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Boeing just about gives up on the 747

Alan Johnson

Re: Aeroflot Flight 593

Why did anyone down vote this?

The pilot let his son and daughter have a go at the controls. The son managed to disengage the autopilot and put the plane in what became a steep turn which the pilots could not recover quickly enough and the crash that followed killed everyone. Ironically the investigation decided if the pilots had simply let go of the controls the plane would have successfully recovered itself!

I like the idea of letting childen and others in the cockpit but everything has a risk. Children or anyone else who is not qualified handling the controls is perhaps not justifiable in terms of the small probability but huge severity of possible consequences.

2
0

Death Stars are a waste of time – here's the best way to take over the galaxy

Alan Johnson

There are physical limits

"As far-fetched as this sounds, constructing such a large structure around or in a planet would be relatively easy with recursive manufacturing."

Except that with really large structures gravatational forces cannot be sustained by known materials which act like liquids under the immense pressures. OK it is science fiction so we can allow new materials or force fields but then why start talking about what is possible at all given we are free to postulate anything to overcome pysical limits (such as light speed!).

Star wars looks back into the past not the future because it is more emotionally satisfying. Battles are like world war II air battles or even earlier napoleonic wars type naval battles of attrition not smart weapons with a single hit kill capability. Swarms of small stealthed intelligent war machines are much more plausible but so what? They would not be fun to watch.

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US Navy's newest ship sets sail with Captain James Kirk at the bridge

Alan Johnson

Re: Zumwalt's OS

LynxOS is a nice OS (IMH) but it does not have a Linux Kernel.

It is a realtime OS with support for Linux APIs (amongst others).

I have not used a recent version but it was very reliable and a nice environment to develop in.

3
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Big Bang left us with a perfect random number generator

Alan Johnson

Re: Never Let an Astrophysicist do Cryptography

It is even worse because a known antenna as a source of entropy has a very obvious vulnerability. Thermal noise in a diode is difficult to gain phsyical access to but a huge antenna is anything but difficult to transmit to.

1
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Anonymous UK 'leader' fined for revealing ID of rape complainant

Alan Johnson

Re: Twice?

'Either way, blaming a rape victim is never the right way to go - just remember, there is only one cause of rape, and that is rapists'

At best/worst she is an alleged rape victim. The assumption she is a victim is prejudging the man in this case even after the man was found not guilty. The fact that this is done is a strong argument for anonymity for the accused.

Interestingly and at the risk of provoking a flaming the studies on the prevelance of false rape accusations are all over the place from 3% to 90% of accusations. It is an inherently difficult thing to measure (estimate) but what is undisputed is that the overwhelming majority of those accused are not taken to court and found guilty so on the presumption of innocence there is a massive problem of those accused being unjustly victimised.

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1

Octogenarian accused of performing sex act with a SHRUBBERY

Alan Johnson

Re: Is charging the right response?

Obviously a source of jokes but if the man concerned has no previous record then this strongly suggests a new neurological problem and that should be the main focus. Charging someone under these circumstances does not seem appropriate untill the likely medical problems have been investigated. He and his family have problems issues without a record of sexual offences.

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0

Les unsporting gits! French spies BUGGED Concorde passengers

Alan Johnson

Anyone who does not assume that all states do this is very naive. I am sure that the US does the same on a vastly larger scale. Whenever there is a significant national interest for any state it should be assumed espionage and possibly worse takes place.

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The Internet of things is great until it blows up your house

Alan Johnson

Articles demonstrate just how massively overhyped IoT is

The problem with the exampels for teh IoT as with almost everything I have seen is that the IoT makes products more expensive, functionally fragile, create security risks and does not add any benefits.

A smart iron is a great idea except that there is no need for the IoT but a machine readable ironing prescription on items of clothing. They already have human readable ironing prescription. IoT needs a machine readable unique item identifier or similar so has the same requirments on the clothing but adding the IoT has added no beenfit at all while complicating things and making the system more fragile. Using a smart phone's camera and bar code reading SW makes sense but then you just have a bluetooth connection to the iron and an App. Not really IoT at all.

The smart electric blanket, OK, but a better product has the body temperature cycle support built into the blanket, again why involve the IoT what is the benefit? I can only see downsides.

I rem

3
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Google drives a tenth of news traffic? That's bull-doodie, to use the technical term

Alan Johnson

Re: How many of these are using Google as their address bar?

Well I use google as a sort of enhanced address bar even when I know the site I want becaus ei tis much easier.

If for example I want to go to Texas Instrument web site and look at the data sheet on a paticular component I can go to www.ti.com and then navigate through the product heirarchy or use the sites own search tools or I can just type TI [abreviated Part number] and then select the best looking link within www.ti.com. Google is much better at this than most sites and it is a consistent method across all sites.

The same is true of the guardian and other news sites. I can go to the guardian and struggle to find something or I can type a search for example "guardian left handed LGBT software discrimination" into google and go straight to whatver article I already know I want to read.

I only tend to type addresses when I want to go to the home page of a web site I know.

17
0

Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

Alan Johnson

C should have been described

C and it's derivatives should be covered not only because it is probably the most successful and long lasting computer language, having a decade or two of general dominance and still being the language of choice for embedded systems 43 years later but because of the massive success of C derived languages, C++, Objective C, C# and Java to name just 4.

2
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Vodafone didn't have a £6bn tax bill. Sort yourselves out, Lefties

Alan Johnson

Re: Grossly mileading and innacurate

The fact that the last legal action was a win by the inland revenue is a matter of public record.

This undermines the entire article and makes the writer lookrather stupid.

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5

A Bombe Called Christopher, or A Very Poor Imitation

Alan Johnson

Not history

I found the film grating in the way it distorted history for the sake of simplistic over dramaticisation (which was annoying for it's childish implausability as much as its innacuracy) but I still thought it worth seeing as long as you treat the plot as fiction.

6
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What do UK and Iran have in common? Both want to outlaw encrypted apps

Alan Johnson

Re: Risk vs benefit

It is all abour risk versus benefit but what is lost in the constant fear mongering by our government assisted by the media is that the rate of death from terrorism is very low far lower than it has been at any other time in my lifetime and arguably at an all time historic low although it is difficult to compare figures back a long way.

The threat that we are constantly remined about whould be compared to the threat from the IRA when we had regular bombings regualr deaths yet less panic and less erosion of liberties.

The paradox is that the rarer terrorist attacks become the more afraid of them we seem to get.

The benefit of new powers is notional at best given how low the rate of attacks is at the moment and the fact that whatever powers are given some attempted attacks will suceeed. WIth negligible benefits the case for more powers does not exist but I expect the powers will be given anyway.

4
0

What an ACE-HOLE! This super-software will whip you at poker, hands down

Alan Johnson

Re: So What? - Nonsense

The problem with the double the bet every time you lose strategy is that it only works if the player has an infinite amount of money. If you had an infinite amount of money then you do not really care. For any finite amount of money the expectation is that you lose money but structured in a way where you have high probabilities of small wins and a low probability of a big loss but in the long run the big losss outweighs the gains and you lose.

0
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Is there ANOTHER UNIVERSE headed BACKWARDS IN TIME?

Alan Johnson

Re: Deep question with more than one mystery

Obviously we do not have space reversla symmetry if we have CPT but the mystery is still there why CPT?

0
0
Alan Johnson

Deep question with more than one mystery

There is more to explain than just the strangely high degree of ordering for small values of time which leads to the arrow of time in macroscopic physics.

Why is space and time minkowskian so the time dimension is singled out as having a different sign in the space time metric. Why? Why not all the same or two timelike dimesions?

Why do we not have simple time reversal symmmetry but have to tie it all together with other symmetries as CPT. We have (or at least we think we have) space reversal symmetry. This is independant from the observed assymetry in entropy.

1
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Bernie Madoff's coders jailed for role in $65bn ponzi scheme fiasco

Alan Johnson

Re: WTF

No this is just silly writing some general purpose software does not expose you to being prosecuted.

If you develop software which is clearly and obviously intended to be used to commit a crime then you can be prosecuted rightly so you are at the very least conspiring to commit a crime.

In a similar way if you give somebody a lift to the bank it is not a crime but if you give a lift to a bank to somebody wearing a mask and carrying a shotgun and then take him home with a large bag of money you can be prosecuted.

2
0

Apple slapped in YET ANOTHER patent battle

Alan Johnson

Where is the threshold for obviousness?

I read the first patent and the the trivial obviousness of it was stunning.

The hurdle is supposed to be not obvious to someone skilled in the art. The patent would not have cleared the standard of not obvious to an unskilled but reasonably intelligent child.

Nothing against patents but they MUST be non-obvious to someone skilled in the art. The opposite seems to be the norm.

0
0

Judge: Terror bomb victims CAN'T seize Iran's domain name as compensation

Alan Johnson

Bizarre in many ways

The legal theory behind this is that because Iran funded Hamas Iran is responsible for attacks committed by Hamas.

The idea of sueing states for the support of organisations whose actions you disapprove of is clealry a case of the strong doing what they like to the weak and massive hypocrisy.

No compensation has been paid the shooting down of an Iranian civilian airliner killing hundreds (not even an apology!) or the bombing of an african pharmecutical factory which killed a low end estimate of 10,000 people. The US continues to fund many terrorist organisations and continues to launch drone strikes into countries which it is not at war at. There is no chance whatsoever of anybody getting money from thr US for any of this.

Hamas are quite clealry a resistance movement fighting a guerilla wa, approve or disapprove of their actions being able to use governmentsthat support their actions if universally applied would open a huge can of worms.

The issue of whether a domain name is property or not seems mild compared to this.

17
6

Computer misuse: Brits could face LIFE IN PRISON for serious hacking offences

Alan Johnson

Seriously confusing draft

The drafting is fundamentally flawed at the most basic level. In some cases it is clearly intended that a list of conditions shoudl be logically ANDed together in another place that they should be logically ORed together with no text at all to distinguish between the to cases. This is just broken. Which interpretation will prefail?

At a more fundamental level why do we need it? I am still very sceptical about the idea of hacking causing deaths and similar and for the all the most serious consequences surely we have enough laws already to cover death, serious economic damage etc.

1
0

It's 2014 and you can still own a Windows box using a Word file or font

Alan Johnson

Re: Why would you PARSE FONTS in the kernel?

I was going to ask the obvious question of why the hell fonts are parsed in the kernel but someone beat me to it.

The supposed answer that the reason is that video drivers are in the kernel is no answeer at all but points to the problem, a failure of architecture and design in windows.

You do not need to go all the way to a microkernel architecture to spend some time partioning graphics and video related subsystems so that what is in the kernel is a well defined minimum. Font parsing clearly would not be in the kernel of a well designed system.

4
2

Jony Ive: Flattered by rivals' designs? Nah, its 'theft'

Alan Johnson

Response to: Now I know many techies don't have much in the way of creative capacity

I take it you are not a 'techie'. I have worked in product design almost my entire life and I need to deploy creative and tehcnical skills. In my experience the only people who think engineers and scientists are not creative are those who are ignorant and/or incapable of technical work and lack the imagination to see why creativity is important in technical fields.

In other words those who are both ignorant and stupid.

In the wider debate about Apple the reason they get such a hostile reception is that they managed to claim as their own design elements they themselves copied and which were well established before they entered the market. This reduces innovation and the ability to be creative.

1
0

THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models

Alan Johnson

Economics cannot be modelled

Economics cannot be modelled in this sense:

1. Any economic theory that works reasonably well is then used by financial organisations to calculate the consequnces of their own behaviour and 'optimise' for profit. This is a form of feedback that continues until the model fails which it inevitably will.

2. Economic theory is almost entirely based on the idea of a large collection of 'rational' agents acting in their best interest. This does not reflect reality where the psychology of people comes into play. In order to have an accurate model of economies we need an accurate model of people.

This does not mean that useful quantative and qualtative economic theories cannot be developed but economics as some sort of engineering disciplince is not possible.

The article itself seems written by someone devoid of significant knowledge about economics. The idea that GDP growth is tied to increased resource consumption is paticualarily bizarre for someone writing for a magazine read by software developers. The clus is that Software development and sales add to GDP.

1
0

On test: Samsung 845DC EVO 3-bit Toggle MLC and 845DC PRO 3D V-NAND SSDs

Alan Johnson

Odd use of concentric

I found the use of read (or write) concentric to mean read (foccussed, biased, optimised, dominated, orientated ....) really disconcerting. Am I an old Foggie and concentric is used to mean this nowadays or is it just the author? Funnily enough I could live with read centred although it is maybe not the best word. There are certainly a lot of other words the author could pick. The use of concentric to mean having a common centre is certainly a useful one an one that does not have lots of alternative words to scribe.

3
0

NASA tests crazytech flying saucer thruster, could reach Mars in days

Alan Johnson

Re: Here's another...

But the center of mass of the system as a whole is not affected. It is like running up and down a small boat. The boat will move backwards and forwards a little but you can't do more than oscillate the boat around an average position and the center of mass of the whole system does not move.

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

Alan Johnson

Dod it really pass or is it just noise?

Even if more than 30% of the judges in one test could not tell it was a machine this does not mean it actually passes because of uncertainty in the measurment. If for the sake of argument a judge has a 25% chance of thinking the machine is human (ie. the machine fails the turing criteria) and there are 20 judges then there is a 21% chance that 35% of judges will give a pass result. How many time si the turnig test run if you consider all teh entrants every year? Just probability/statistics will give a pass eventually. The turing test has been run many times so the fact that we get an outlier result should not be a surprise.

The sample conversation was very poor and no noticeable improvement from early efforts.

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