* Posts by Alfred

329 posts • joined 23 Apr 2007

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Q: What's black and white and read all over? A: E-reader displays

Alfred

Re: Long-time e-Reader user, disappointed with current tech

I had a run of PRS-505 models for the last few years. Generally replacing them when I broke one; they're a replacement for a stack of novels and get treated much the same. In pockets, rammed in bags, by the pool, all that sort of thing. Buy them second hand, run them into the ground.

I likewise liked the buttons instead of the touch screen, and it simply did what it was meant to; a stack of novels, in a single slim box. The last time I broke one I wound up looking at all the options and got a second-hand PRS-300 for a song. Still got buttons rather than a touch screen, none of the unrequired bells and whistles of competitors (lights, internet access, Amazon supervising my reading etc etc), but it was even better for my particular needs; being a little bit smaller made it significantly more convenient. I wouldn't be without it.

Maybe I should buy a few more second-hand while I still can so I've got a supply in the future when there are no good options for my needs (i.e. a replacement for a stack of novels) being made anymore.

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Hey, Sand Hill Exchange. Shouting 'blockchain!' won't stop the Feds

Alfred

"Can somebody explain why this is a real-world problem for normal people?"

Because normal people have to pay enormous prices for a house to live in during a bubble, and then suffer negative equity when it pops. What's proposed would be a way to damp the bubbles.

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Wake up, sheeple! If you ask Siri about 9/11 it will rat you out to the police!

Alfred

By definition, calling 911 is an emergency situation, and thus not normal. There is a higher likelihood in such situations that you would not be able to use your fingers than in non-emergency situations. Like all such situations, we can but play the percentages.

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US Air Force drone pilots in mass burn out, robo-flights canceled

Alfred

@Dan Paul

"Blaming our service people for the activities of the enemy is the biggest act of cowardice you can commit!"

I am a reservist of some fifteen years and I have been deployed overseas somewhere hot on active duty in a shooting war. Don't you dare come all Daily Mail / Fox News with me, pretending that to disagree with foreign policy is to somehow be dishonourable to forces personnel.

Second point; bleat about how it's not nice that the bad people hide in amongst innocent people all you like. It doesn't change the FACTS. And the FACTS are that we routinely murder innocent people and in doing so we cause terrorism. I don't give a damn how cowardly it may or may not be for OpFor to hide in amongst innocent people. That's completely irrelevant to the FACT that by murdering innocent people, we cause terrorism.

I could extend your argument to its logical conclusion; these drone pilots are launching their attacks from within the civilian population, so when terrorists turn up and kill pieces of that civilian population, it's the fault of those drone pilots. Utterly ridiculous. Grow up.

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Alfred

Compensation?

Compensation? That's not the price you pay for murdering a dozen innocent civilians. The price you pay is that their friends and relatives are pushed towards terrorism. Every time we murder some innocent civilians going about their lawful business, we strengthen terrorism. We recruit for them (and, frankly, understandably so; if the US was routinely murdering innocent people near me, from the sky, without warning or due process or accountability, I suspect I'd end up damaged enough that I'd want to make someone pay).

We make terrorists. This is how we make them. The price of our incompetence is terrorism. The price of our foreign policy and associated murdering is the death of our own civilians in the future.

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The Martian: Matt Damon sciences the sh*t out of the red planet

Alfred

The book was a novelty for the first half, but after that it just became dull. Problem, explanation, solution. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. To be fair, given the plot, there wasn't much the author could do about it.

I suspect this is a case in which the movie should be able to improve on the novel. Whereas the novel was for the most part first-person from the stranded astronaut's viewpoint, the movie could make things more interesting with some unreliable narrator devices (or indeed, going insane), and giving us more than just his opinion or perspective.

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The weapons pact threatening IT security research

Alfred

"Thing is, older people can be hidebound: stuck in ruts."

They can also be brilliantly innovative and experienced. Something that is literally impossible for the young. Sure, sometimes you get some child who sees something because they don't know the literature or history, but to say it's a young person's game because of that? Having worked in the software industry for the best part of two decades, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of inexperienced programmers I've met who are better than people with many years' experience. It does happen, but by and large the better programmers are the ones with a lot more experience and knowledge.

The exact same thing is true of architecture. Is that a young person's game? Also surgery. Also electronic design. Also journalism. Also medicine. Also music. Also this, also that, also almost every skilled profession there is. The only true exception I can think of is pure mathematics in which the genius steps do seem to come from the (relatively) young, but that is something that can be done with zero knowledge or experience, unlike hammering on someone's network.

If we say that security research is a young person's game, by the same criteria we have to say that almost every skilled profession in the whole world is also a young person's game, and that's just nonsense.

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Alfred

"Security research is increasingly a young person's game"

Statements like that just don't make any sense. The only things in this life that are a young person's game are various forms of athleticism, and some niches that requires skilled people willing and able to work for low wages (usually in fields where experience is mandatory to progress, such that the role is an apprentice role like apprentice surgeon) such that older people deselect themselves from starting out in that niche.

Security research does not depend on particular abilities of the young. Unless, that is, you want smart, skilled people willing to work long hours for low wages,which incidentally brings us around to the UK MoDs effort, the joint reserve unit, who hope to do just that :)

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Look out, law abiding folk: UK’s Counter-Extremism Bill slithers into view

Alfred
WTF?

Genuinely could not make this shit up

"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone."

Truly, truly mental. Look what you did, you stupid tory voters.

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Spooks: Big-screen upgrade for MI5 agents fails to be a hit job

Alfred

Alternative TV offering - more TTSS than Spooks

If you've not seen it, TV six parter "The Game" was more Tinker Tailor than Spooks, and is worth seeing if that's your kind of spy thriller. Set in '72, so proper cold war spying, it stars Brian Cox, lending some gravitas, and being spread over six episodes they didn't have to rush things.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Game_%28UK_TV_series%29 is

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NSA spying is illegal? Then let's make it law, say Republicans

Alfred

Like me

Bingo. I don't have any "loyalty" cards for stores ("loyalty" is something I have towards people, involving giving them the benefit of the doubt in certain circumstances based on my past dealings with them; I will never feel loyalty towards a business, or indeed a government or nation). It's a choice I make, based on what I perceive to be the benefits and the drawbacks and my personal circumstances.

If the senator wishes to liken governments spying on their own law-abiding citizenry to loyalty cards, might I suggest that they create a similar scheme, allowing people to opt in to being spied on?

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Singapore's prime minister releases source code for his hand-coded Sudoku-solver

Alfred

Senior Wrangler

Not just a funny academic title in a Pratchett novel. It's also a deeply impressive achievement; 李显龙 is ferociously smart.

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Alfred

And what would be the advantage of Singapore becoming a less restrictive society? Democracy isn't some kind of magical higher state that all humanity should strive for.

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Free markets aren't rubbish – in fact, they solve our rubbish woes

Alfred

Re: supermarket pricing

"Sainsbury's was offering their own brand olive oil spread at £2.50/1kg. Right next to it were 250g packs at £1.50, but on offer (for months) at two for two quid - and yet I watched folk look at both and get the big one."

So, a single-pack kilogram for £2.50, or half a kilo for £2? Getting the big pack seems like the better value.

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C++ Daddy Bjarne Stroustrup outlines directions for v17

Alfred

Re: Whatever.

Maybe you've got your eyes closed. I have found many, many things that are much easier to do in C++ than in C.

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Singapore's PM personally programmed C++ Suduko-solver

Alfred
Headmaster

He was Senior Wrangler, which is far more impressive than Rhodes Scholar and negates the need for speedos; as I recall, that lot are happy to run the quads naked.

Icon not for pedantry, but for relevance in general :)

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Don't be stiffed by spies, stand up to Uncle Sam with your proud d**k pics – says Snowden

Alfred

Re: Marketing Hack Its smart to put the NSA's surveillance in a context that people understand

They are interested. Maybe not today. Today you're just some punk kid they don't give a damn about. In ten years time, however, you may be someone of interest and they can dig up everything you did online when you were young and stupid and use it to, for example, destroy your political career, or blackmail you, or embarrass you, or destroy your marriage, and so on and so on.

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Health & Safety is the responsibility of Connor's long-suffering girlfriend

Alfred
Unhappy

While making a minor correction to some code, you notice a massive flaw in some adjacent code. Do you:

A: Check the blame log to see if you did it, and if not, forget you ever saw it.

B: Having no time allocated to fix it, tell the tester on the sly how to trigger it, so that in six months time when testing comes around it'll get officially found and someone will then be given the hours to fix it.

C: Make a note of it to use as ammunition in the next finger-pointing blame game.

D: Not wanting to have to deal with the egotistical incompetent who wrote it and will take correcting it as a Machiavellian power play, leave it there but write a working version of the same, and change every use of it to your new version.

I have done all of these :(

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Linux kernel devs adopt Bill and Ted's excellent code of conduct

Alfred

Re: Uncomfortable?

"Quite amazing this progression, that since we are all supposed to be mature adults,"

We are, but there will always be a number of people who, for example, threaten to rape women with whom they disagree, sometimes going so far as to prove they know where said women live.

From experience, if you don't have a statement of conduct or some such, when you express the opinion that this is unacceptable behaviour, they claim that there is nothing written saying it's not acceptable and that their free speech makes it acceptable to behave like this. A written, unambiguous statement is sadly necessary; it won't stop them, but violators can be pointed at it and excommunicated.

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Ouch! Google crocks capacitors and deviates DRAM to root Linux

Alfred
Coat

Re: “On the software from” ?

No virgins in a web-based technology magazine's office? A likely story.

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C'mon! Greece isn't really bust and it can pay its debts

Alfred
Headmaster

Actually, they already work longer than average AND they already retire later than average

"because they continue to retire in their early to mid fifties"

Here's a quote for you: "Looking at Eurostat’s data from 2005 the average age of exit from the labour force in Greece (GRAPH EXCLUDED FROM THIS QUOTE BECAUSE I CAN ONLY QUOTE TEXT) was 61.7; higher than Germany, France or Italy and higher than the EU27 average. Since then Greece have had to raise the minimum age of retirement twice under bail-out conditions and so this figure is likely to rise further."

For many years, they've worked longer hours and retired later. The myths about the Greeks all having short hours and all retiring at age 50 are just that. Myths.

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Alfred

Re: Iss this article for real?

"The Greek lifestyle, for better or worse, is coming to an end. Nationally speaking they'll have to work considerably harder for a lot longer"

They do already work the longest hours in Europe (or at least did back in 2012 when my stats are from). The problem isn't that they're slackers; the problem is that they're massively unproductive.

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It's not easy being Green. But WHY insist we knit our own ties?

Alfred

You didn't read the article

He explicitly stated that if you do if because you like doing it, that's richness. He explicitly fucking says it.

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CAR? Check. DRIVER? Nope. OK, let's go, says British govt

Alfred
Terminator

Re: What could possibly go wrong?

Given that at the moment you routinely have to put up with idiot meatbags coming up behind you on the motorway at seventy plus, removing meatbags from the equation is an improvement.

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Alfred

" the purpose of driverless cars"

"that couldn't be better served by improved public transport"

That's exactly what they ARE. Improved public transport. Here is my wish-list for public transport:

1) Picks me up wherever I am, at my convenience.

2) Delivers me exactly at the location I want to go to, without detours or other stops.

3) Don't have to share it with strangers.

Right now, I am describing a taxi, which is perfect but for the cost. If only there was some way to remove the largest cost of a taxi; the driver's time.

Hey presto, driverless car IS the ideal public transport.

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How's this for customer service: Comcast calls bloke an A**HOLE – and even puts it in print

Alfred

HOW much?

I'd heard internet in the states was expensive thanks to the competition-busting cartels, but 67 dollars a MONTH? For what looks like a pretty basic internet connection? Blimey.

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Why so tax-shy, big tech firms? – Bank of England governor

Alfred

"Directors have a fiduciary duty to the company..."

The overriding duty is to promote the company's success. Which by no means is to be taken as "as much money as possible given to shareholders". There are a lot more stakeholders than just the shareholders.

Here is some reading to get started with.

http://www.out-law.com/page-11109

The chaps at OutLaw have a lot more where that comes from. It certainly is not all about maximising money for the company and giving it to shareholders.

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Alfred

" is likely to find themselves down the job centre about 20 nanoseconds after agreeing to do so"

Bullshit. For decades, company after company has senior executives visibly lining their own pockets instead of paying more to shareholders. The shareholders sit there and take it, time after time after time.

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Alfred

"The companies can't volunteer to pay more, because their shareholders would react badly - with a lawsuit."

Under what law? A company doesn't have any legal obligation to maximise shareholder value.

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Intel offers big bucks for black women

Alfred
Headmaster

Re: Blah blah crimewatch

Indeed, it may HAVE helped me out. My suggestion stands, though; I would expect to see proportionally more faces from ethnicity X on Crimewatch if economic opportunities are more limited for ethnicity X.

Given that in 2011 the UK was about 87% white, I'm seeing a lot of non-white faces in that link; it may well be a mixed bunch, but it's certainly not representative of the UK population.

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Alfred

Blah blah crimewatch

On the other hand, if we had a situation in which white men were routinely relegated to the shallow end of the employment pool, we would see Crimewatch heaving with white faces. Perhaps you've got cause and effect backwards?

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ALIEN EARTH: Red sun's habitable world spotted 470 light years away

Alfred

A life

Get a life. Exactly. Stop doing what you love and satisfying your own desire to know things just because it's there to be known. Fuck all that shit. Just do what you're told like johnnymotel. Drink what you're told to drink, aspire to copy those you're told are "cool", be attracted to the people the media tells you are atractive. Interested in exoplanets? What a loser. You've been told so many times you're meant to enjoy getting drunk and watching some kind of sport, so do it. Get a dull job like you see on the soap operas you're supposed to watch. That's a proper life.

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Hipsters ahoy! Top Ten BOARD games for festive family fun

Alfred

£30-40 for a few bits of cardboard and plastic.

Your modern PC gamer pays that kind of money on Steam and doesn't have so much as a single cardboard counter to show for it. The hipsters come out ahead if you're scoring purchases in cardboard and plastic acquired.

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US Navy's LASER CANNON WARSHIP: USS Ponce sent to Gulf

Alfred

Re: USS Ponce

"can we look forward to the UK ship HMS Queer ?"

You've already had HMS Oberon, king of the fairies :)

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Web daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Back off Putin, I'm no CIA stooge

Alfred

Re: No such thing

"The most we can ask for is that we are not robbed, murdered, or worse."

For crying out loud, aspire to something. Aim higher! This poverty of ambition is likie a disease. We can do better.

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The Great Unwatched: BBC hails glorious digital future for Three

Alfred

And Mongrels.

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The gender imbalance in IT is real, ongoing and ridiculous

Alfred

Re: I can't get excited about gender imbalance on this occasion

" Presumably, nursing's rejection of men will follow later? (Please don't bother)."

So sick of hearing this ignorant bullshit. Nursing has been trying to attract more men for decades.

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My HOUSE used to be a PUB: How to save the UK high street

Alfred

Re: Impressive

It did give me paws, barking mad as it seemed.

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Languages don't breed bugs, PEOPLE breed bugs, say boffins

Alfred

Re: Still playing favourites

I've always found the crucial difference is the quality of the programmer, rather than the quality of the supporting libraries and learning material.

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Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech

Alfred

They truly think we're all idiots

"Alongside the blessings ... there are the plotters, the proliferators, and the paedophiles.”

Every fucking time, they throw about the word "paedophile" and expect us to react like Pavlovian half-wits raised on a diet of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. Just say "paedophile" and the stupid fucking public will let us do whatever we like to them.

I cannot be the only person now who automatically discounts anything said by "authority" that uses the term. Even when I don't want to or they might have a sensible point to make, I can't help it; if you say "paedophile", your credibility vanishes.

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Antarctic ice at ALL TIME RECORD HIGH: We have more to learn, says boffin

Alfred

Re: Antactica is melting too

"You are really struggling to put the case forward that Antarctica is losing land ice aren't you?"

Is that aimed at me? I've got no opinion on that. My assertion is that it is possible to melt some ice, put the freshwater on a cold sea, and observe the freshwater freeze. This is a well-known meterological phenomenon, often observed (unsurprisingly) where freshwater rivers meet cold oceans.

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Alfred

Re: Antactica is melting too

"How does the pure water flow if it's surroundings are < 0 C?"

It flows when it is warm. Some will be warm all the way to the sea. The cold, cold sea. It freezes when it gets cold again. Some of it will get cold enough before it gets to the sea and will freeze again before it gets to the sea. Some of it will get cold enough when it gets to the sea.

Being surrounded by something less than 0C does not make water freeze instantly. It takes time. In that time, the water can move. Put a pan of warm water outside on a freezing cold day. Observe that the pan of water does not freeze instantly.

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Alfred

Re: Antactica is melting too

"Can anyone see the problem with this? ;)"

So you've got salt water (which has a freezing point below zero, typically about minus 2 C), at a temperature of minus something, and you then put some freshwater on top of it, which then gets colder and freezes in its new surroundings of less than zero. What's the problem with this?

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Open source and the NHS: Two huge disorganised entities without central control

Alfred

The ridiculous power of doctors

Absolutely right. The ridiculous power of doctors is astonishing to people from other walks of life. Educated, specialised body-mechanics are just that; the idea that they inherently have a superior opinion (compared to every other hospital employee and associated personnel) on broad aspects of running a hospital is ludicrous, but hard to dislodge (although, to be fair, hard to dislodge only from their minds).

Reminds me of the (thankfully, now fading) attitude of surgeons in the operating theatre. The surgeon doing the actual cutting is one of the worst choices of people in the room to be in charge, but so often is (even if not officially).

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In a spin: Samsung accuses LG exec of washing machine SABOTAGE

Alfred

So who *was* it made by? I happily pay a premium for domestic appliances that last a very long time.

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Weekend reads: Perfidia, Fatherland and The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being

Alfred

Re: More Evolution

" Atheism denies the possibility of such a thing existing."

No it doesn't. Atheism says there is no god. Anything beyond that you choose to read into it is entirely your own.

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BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV

Alfred

Re: If you arew going to teach coding

if ( input != 'y' || input != 'n')

I get asked why this doesn't work at least once a fortnight. Oh Gods, yes please, some kind of logic priming.

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Weekend reads: Colorless Tsukuru, Kool Korea and strange encounters with IKEA wardrobes

Alfred

Re: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki

If it's any consolation, you're not tha target audience. Go back to your Dan Brown and whatever Jack Reacher recycling has been churned out recently.

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IT blokes: would you say that LEWD comment to a man? Then don't say it to a woman

Alfred

Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

"If you're not getting the respect you believe you deserve then that needs to be dealt with internally, inside your head"

"this is 100% an issue of self respect, or lack thereof."

"you coming off as the weak person"

"you are presenting yourself as the easiest to dominate"

"start by respecting yourself. Which you clearly don't. "

" tits or no tits, they will put your severed head on a pike by the gate as a warning"

You forgot to finish by saying that it's a woman's own fault if she gets raped. That's what you're building to. Quite clearly, you believe that to be the case. I doubt you'll say it that clearly, and you might even deny it, but secretly, deep inside, you really believe it's true.

Which conferences will you be going to?

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What's the point of the Internet of Things?

Alfred

Re: No, Trevor...

How about some kind of middle ground? Instead of you cutting your holiday short to replace the fuse, ask a friend/neighbour/family member to pop round and replace the fuse for you.

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