* Posts by Brangdon

199 posts • joined 15 Sep 2008

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Android in user-chosen lockscreen patterns are grimly predictable SHOCKER

Brangdon

Re: Use for NFC?

I tried Smart Lock and found it didn't work. Specifically, the "trusted places" part was not accurate enough. It seemed to be based on the generic Android location service, which seems to use cell towers, which can be wrong by 100s of yards. I don't see an option to require a specific WiFi connection.

Also, it would unlock automatically whenever it thought it was close to the location. That's unsafe: someone could steal my phone and unlock it just by standing outside my house. Smart lock should never unlock. Instead it should merely prevent the phone from relocking (after being unlocked manually).

I previously used an app called Unlock with Wifi that got all this right. That app doesn't work with Lollipop, because the author is a tit. Currently I use Llama instead.

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Embracing the life-changing qualities of USB power packs and battery extenders

Brangdon

Re: Lollipop

My Sony Z3C is usually at about 80% when I retire for the night. And it charges via a magnetic port, so charging does not add wear and tear to the USB port (nor risk compromising the water-tight seal by uncovering it).

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NASA dismisses asteroid apocalypse threat

Brangdon

More (and more convincing) deconstruction of NASA moon landing photos here: http://stuffucanuse.com/fake_moon_landings/moon_landings.htm.

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Snowball spud gun shows comets could have seeded Earth with life

Brangdon

Panspermia is the simplest theory. If Panspermia doesn't happen, you need to explain why not. If life arises on Mars, why wouldn't it contaminate Earth (given that we've found Martian meteorites here)? What's so special about Earth that it's the first place ever for life to arise?

That said, personally I see Panspermia as a "get out of jail" card. If suggests that even if life could not have arisen on Earth, it could have arisen somewhere else and then migrated here. It vastly increases the range of habitats that life could have first arisen in. It's possible that it actually needs a Mars-like planet for the early stages, and then an Earth-like planet for the later stages. In that case life would be relatively sparse in the Universe, but overall Panspermia makes life more likely by increasing the options.

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Oh, Obama's responded to the petition to pardon Snowden. What'll it be?

Brangdon

Re: Mixed Feelings

Snowden is in Russia because that's where he happened to be when the US revoked his passport. It's not where he wants to be or what he chose. He was en route to somewhere else.

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Humongous headsets and virtual insanity

Brangdon

Porn is still a way off

There are two ways of creating porn. The first is to record actual performances from live people. If you do that you end up with a fixed camera position, which loses much of the benefit of VR. You can make it 360 so you can look anywhere, but then you need a lot more memory to store all the bits you aren't currently looking at. Add the inconvenience of the headset, and it's not that compelling a proposition.

The other way is to build a computer model of the actors. Then you can render it from any angle. The downside is the "Uncanny Valley". It doesn't look right. Getting it to look right is difficult. People are more sensitive about this stuff in porn than in a video game.

Obviously they won't stop developing it until it works, but for the next 3 years its going to be a disappointing experience.

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Bitcoin, schmitcoin. Let's play piggyback on the blockchain

Brangdon

Nxt

You really ought to look at what LOHAN sponsor Nxt is doing in this area. Nxt is an alt-coin that is specifically designed to be a platform for block-chain applications. It has a modular design with multiple transaction types. Transactions can have "prunable" attachments, meaning you store moderately large blocks of data in its block-chain, and they'll be deleted after 2 weeks, so the block-chain is not bloated permanently. It's for distribution rather than long term storage.

Other features currently include an asset exchange, a digital goods store, and voting mechanism. Any transaction can be made to require approval via voting. So for example, you can issue an asset that represents shares in a company, and then issue a transaction to pay Fred Bloggs to do some work, and the payment will only go through if enough shareholders vote to approve it. All implemented in a trust-free way, with everything visible and verifiable in the public block-chain.

Nxt has been running for over 18 months now and is achieving things Bitcoin can barely dream of. This is where the innovation is happening.

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AssangeTM says Sweden squibbed on promised interview

Brangdon

Sweden can't reject a US request for extradition when one hasn't been made. They also can't promise to reject any and all future requests because they can't know what they are. Hence the assurances you mention cannot be given.

What we can say is that extradition from the UK would need only UK's permission, and extradition from Sweden would require both UK and Sweden's permission, so he's safer there than here. Assange doesn't care, so presumably he's worried about non-legal rendition. In which case, no assurances that Sweden gives matter anyway.

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Life in prison not appealing to Silk Road boss Ross Ulbricht – appeal filed

Brangdon

Re: So what legitimate personal uses are there for cyanide?

Suicide.

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Crafty fingering could let Apple Watch thieves raid your bank account

Brangdon

From the article: "The Watch doesn’t check to make sure the phone is still around before yielding its token to the payment terminal." So no, they don't need to steal the phone as well, and it's not a non-story.

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

Brangdon

Re: Not bad

If the loop variable is declared at the point it is used, and has a sensible name, it probably doesn't need a comment.

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Today, the US govt must explain why its rules on shutting down whole cell networks are a secret

Brangdon

The first bomb causes rescuers to flood to the scene. The second bomb is targetted at those people: police, paramedics, firemen or whatever. To maximimse the result you need to observe when those people have arrived and then trigger the second bomb. A timer would be less effective.

The police will want to take the network down before they send the rescuers in. If the bomb detonates when the network goes down, it will be too early to catch the rescuers.

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WikiLeaks reveals searchable trove of Sony Pictures documents

Brangdon

He's accused of having sex with an unconscious woman, knowing she would not have consented had she been awake. That's rape in UK. The case has been through judicial review here, which confirmed it.

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

Brangdon

How did you interpret "I'm a moron" if not as an attack on his own intelligence?

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Boffins find Earth's earliest Homo in Ethiopian hilltop

Brangdon

Re: Let them chew on this

There used to be a gap in the fossil record. Now there are two gaps.

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Blockheads bork Bitcoin Foundation board election

Brangdon

Bitcoin were not the first with voting

Block-chain based voting has been implemented in other coins, notably Qora, for many months. It's an interesting way of running a vote, being distributed and trust-free, anonymous and public. No issues with corrupt officials miscounting.

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Bank of England could mint own brand of Bitcoin

Brangdon

Re: Looks like a tipping point has been reached

It is the psychology and politics that Bitcoin changes.

The strength and weakness of a fiat currency is that the bank can create more whenever it wants. The banks say this is a strength because it allows a country to inflate its way out of recession. It's a problem when different countries want to share a currency because they have to decide who has the power to create it. Whoever has the power has to be trusted not to abuse it by creating money for bad reasons. Virtually every fiat currency that ever existed has eventually been debased into worthlessness by its government in order to pay for a war.

Bitcoin changes this by being distributed and decentralised. This means no-one has the power to issue more of it on a whim. New coins are created according to a fixed schedule. Hence there is no need to trust any central bank, and different countries sharing it don't need to trust each other not to debase it. They can just opt into it individually. They don't have to agree about policy.

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ALIENS are surely AMONG US: Average star has TWO potentially Earth-like worlds

Brangdon

I think (and hope) the Great Filter lies in our past

It took a billion years for prokaryotes (simple single-celled life) to evolve. Then another 1.6 billion for eukaryotes (more complex, but still single-celled). Then another billion years to get multi-cellular life, and another billion to get primates. We have no idea whether these steps always take that long, or whether we're unusually fast or unusually slow. I find it easy to believe that getting to multi-cellular life usually takes 4 times the 3.6 billion years it took us, in which case it is longer than the age of the universe. In other words, there could be lots of slime out there, but not much intelligent life.

There would still be some intelligent life, but if it's rare, it's probably too far away for us to detect it (or vice versa). I see no reason think whoever is first will have a drive to colonise the galaxy. It might make more sense to upload themselves to virtual reality instead, and have all the space they need. Especially if they've achieved zero population growth (arguably a pre-requisite for a civilisation to survive more than a million years).

Whatever: Fermi's Paradox isn't a paradox. Anyone who understands enough to see why it's an issue should have enough imagination to explain it away.

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Ex Machina – a smart, suspenseful satire of our technology gods

Brangdon

Re: Why is it a fembot?

The reasons for it being female (or, indeed, having a gender at all) are more or less explained in the film.

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DANGER: Is that 'hot babe' on Skype a sextortionist?

Brangdon

Re: For the love of all that's precious!

Sometimes she gets naked first. Sometimes they record one half of the session and leave her bit out.

Sometimes they leave her out and then claim your partner was 13 years old. It doesn't matter that it wasn't true; a video of you wanking in front of a child will get you judged in the court of opinion and potentially ruin your life. It's easier and safer to pay, if it's not too much.

I hate all the victim-blaming that goes on here. This is a confidence trick. It relies on taking the time to build up trust.

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NXT: The first SPAAAACE cryptocurrency

Brangdon

Re: nxt = ponzi scamcoin

Nxt is a proof of stake coin. There is no mining, hence no "insta-mine". The initial development was funded by crowd-sourcing, which anyone in the public could contribute to in exchange for an early stake. 73 people did. That was roughly a year ago. Since then the coin has had massive development, with many innovative "2.0" features being added, including messaging (with/without encryption), an asset exchange and a marketplace that runs trust-free. More features are on the way. As such it in no way matches the profile of a ponzi-coin, which are generally clones of Bitcoin or similar with no innovation or serious effort put into them.

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Horizon finds new potential in the sci-fi staple deepsleep tale

Brangdon

LockStep

LockStep, by Karl Schroeder, is built around it, and not just for long journeys. Not a great book, but definitely worth reading as an exploration of cryosleep.

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Oculus Rift tech-specs 'MANY MONTHS away' from hitting the shelves

Brangdon

Re: Will these really take off ?

Surely porn will fall foul of the uncanny valley? if you use computer models (as games will), the people will have dead eyes and unrealistic skin and generally not up to porn standards with live human models. If you use live human models, then you are stuck with whatever PoV the camera had when recording.

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MasterCard adds fingerprint scanner to credit cards for spending sans the PIN

Brangdon

Re: It's credit card size ...

The card doesn't contain a battery.

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Are you a fat boy? Get to university NOW, you PENNILESS SLACKER

Brangdon

Re: Flaw in the argument

Baking potatoes don't need to be peeled or chipped, and they don't need oil. Wash, prick and bake. Season them if you must. Eat the skins; they are nutritious.

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AVOID the Apple Watch. Buy a drone or robot instead, techies told

Brangdon

Re: A lot of CEOs said the iPad wouldn't take off...

The Apple watch has wireless charging, which should help keep it charged, and I hope it can sync time from your iPhone (which hopefully can sync from the network), as that should avoid any need to fiddle with it if it does go flat.

(My quartz watch uses solar power to top up its battery, and syncs time with a radio signal, so it hasn't needed any attention since I bought it.)

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Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER

Brangdon

Re: If Samsung can do it then surely Apple can...

For me the killer feature would be payment by NFC, supposing the nation's infrastructure is up to it. For example, it should save me having to carry a pre-paid bus card. (Having NFC in a phone isn't enough for convenience, because getting a phone out isn't any harder than getting a wallet out; but my watch is already out.)

Other people want vibrate notifications for incoming messages and the like. Having the watch alert if it gets too far away from the phone would be useful for people who leave their phones behind, and having the phone lock/unlock depending on its proximity to the watch would useful for people who are concerned about their phones getting stolen.

Whether any of these features is included in any given smart watch product is another matter.

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Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy

Brangdon

Re: He needs the attention, but still...

Wikileaks reused passwords, which is a basic security error. The Guardian journalist should not have published the password for his private sample anyway; but he had no way of knowing it had been reused on publically available archives.

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Marvell: NO WAY should we have to pay jumbo $1.54bn patent judgment

Brangdon

Can't they just pay it...

from the profits from Guardians of the Galaxy?

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Snowden leaks show that terrorists are JUST LIKE US

Brangdon

Re: Removable batteries

True. Although removing the battery is itself a suspicious act that has helped persuade a jury that the accused was up to no good. Better to leave the phone at home (or wherever your alibi is).

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Password manager LastPass goes titsup: Users LOCKED OUT

Brangdon

Re: Why does a password manager need to have any information leave your system?

Many people need the passwords to be available from a variety of machines. Their desktop, their phone, their tablet, etc. That's why the (encrypted) password database needs to be synced across the internet.

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Chinese Bitcoin farms: From scuzzy to sci-fi

Brangdon

Re: I've often wondered

Do you think printing dollar bills has no environmental impact? Or forging pound coins? The cost of mining Bitcoin does not depend on how much it is used or how many new coins are created, so the current costs are about as bad as it gets, even as it scales to supplant other currencies which are less environmentally sound.

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iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple

Brangdon

Re: I fail to see how this would get rid of Visa's/Master Card's 2% cut.

They could use Bitcoin or Nxt.

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Euro banks warned off Bitcoin as Canada regulates it

Brangdon

Re: vested interest in supporting the value of the currency

The expected lifetime of a fiat (ie, issued by government and not backed by anything) currency is about 30 years. You'd be surprised how many national currencies have failed within our lifetimes.

See http://georgewashington2.blogspot.co.uk/2011/08/average-life-expectancy-for-fiat.html. "Twenty percent failed through hyperinflation, 21% were destroyed by war, 12% destroyed by independence, 24% were monetarily reformed, and 23% are still in circulation approaching one of the other outcomes."

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Future Apple gumble could lock fanbois out of their own devices

Brangdon

Re: Prior Art?

There's a brief review for "Unlock with WiFi" here: http://lifehacker.com/5829514/unlock-with-wi-fi-saves-you-from-tedious-phone-passwords-when-youre-at-home. The review is dated 2011. Apple's application date is 2012. Apple were later.

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Brangdon

Re: Prior Art?

"Unlock with WiFi" is the one I use. It sets the password to blank when it can see my home wireless network.

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Got a botnet? Thinking of using it to mine Bitcoin? Don't bother

Brangdon

Re: So coin mining is a losing game, then ?

To make money from mining now, you need ASICs - application specific integrated circuits that are custom-designed to mine Bitcoin. They are much more efficient than GPUs at mining (and useless for anything else).

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Brangdon

Re: So coin mining is a losing game, then ?

If you spent $800 by buying Bitcoins on an exchange, you get more coins than by spending the $800 on electricity for mining. If/when the price went up, you still be better off.

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US marshals leak list of possible Bitcoin buyers

Brangdon

Re: This is all going to be very bad for bitcoin

Mining generates 3,600 new coins a day, so 30,000 coins is less than 9 days worth. It's not a big volume.

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Brangdon

Re: Guilty?

The keys for these coins were held on the machine that ran the Silk Road. No-one is claiming to own them (because they would be incriminating themselves if they did so), so there is no-one to try. The chap they think ran the Silk Road has his own stash of coins, which won't be sold until after his trial (and then only if he's found guilty).

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Assange™ makes fresh bid for FREEDOM from Scotland Yard's 'physical encirclement'

Brangdon

Re: "when that warrent does not involve serious criminal or terrorist action"

He's accused of rape. Rape is a serious crime.

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Today's get-rich-quick scheme: Build your own bank

Brangdon

Or you could just use Bitcoin

Bitcoin lets you send money where-ever, and stores the balance in the block-chain, and does it all cheap, transparently and trust-free. If the bank isn't doing any of the clever stuff, why do we need it at all?

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US Marshals seek buyer for Silk Road's Bitcoin

Brangdon
Stop

Re: Um, what?

Do not send your coins to random addresses. That is not a good way to destroy them.

The correct way to destroy bitcoins is to send them with a transaction script that just has OP_RETURN. This type of transaction is provably unspendable, so there's no risk that someone secretly knows the private key and can resurrect them (much) later. This is also kinder to the network because it can be pruned from the "unspent transaction outputs" table.

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Bitcoin blockchain allegedly infected by ancient 'Stoned' virus

Brangdon
Unhappy

Is there any reason to think it wasn't deliberate?

Deliberately inserting virus signatures into the block chain has been talked about for a while. For example, http://pastebin.com/ct2WHUK5. Nor is this the first time it's happened, eg https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=559365. Unless there's evidence to the contrary, I would expect this to be deliberate.

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Microsoft throws Kinect under a bus, slashes Xbox One to $399

Brangdon

Re: Nothing will change that for the next 8 years, specs are set in stone

That will happen on both consoles.

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It's spade sellers who REALLY make a killing in a gold rush: It's OVER for graphics card mining

Brangdon

Re: Granted that passing around little pieces of paper may look strange to the uninitiated observer

Bitcoins have value for the same reasons gold has value: both are hard to fake, available in limited supply, and facilitate trade. Bitcoins are hard to fake because there is a public ledger recording who owns them. Anyone can write updates to the ledger, but no-one else will believe them unless they have all the right digital signatures etc. That makes it almost impossible to spend coins you don't own.

However, because Bitcoin is distributed, it's possible to get two versions of the ledger, both equally valid, but different. In that case miners effectively vote for which one wins. To prevent someone stuffing the ballot box, votes are made expensive, and that's where the "proof of work" comes in: the winner is the (valid) ledger that has had the most CPU cycles spent on it.

So part of the complex number-crunching is for validating digital signatures, but most of it is for achieving consensus about ordering of updates.

The regulatory environment isn't as hostile as you seem to think it is. Both USA and UK governments consider Bitcoin to be legal, and issue guidance on how to pay taxes on profits you make with it.

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Hey frumious Reg gamers: BANG-or-SNATCH? We look at Second Son and Thief

Brangdon

Re: Thief

Story is weak, and the game really isn't as good as the review implies. You can only jump or climb if the game has decided those actions make sense there, and you can only use rope arrows in marked places. It's frustrating how often plausible routes turn out not to have been thought of by the designers.

On the other hand, it's better than some other reviews. Dishonored is more fun, but at least Thief is a genuine sneaker. Dishonored devotes too much of the UI and game-play to combat.

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Facebook Oculus VR buyout: IT WANTS your EYEBALLS

Brangdon

Re: wow

Why repay? The Kickstarter folk were promised an early dev kit, which they were given, and that's the end of their involvement. People confuse funding via Kickstarter with buying shares. Kickstarter is used by companies that want money and don't want to give up their shares or control to get it.

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No Notch niche: Minecraft man in rift with Oculus after Facebook gobble

Brangdon

Sony have already said theirs won't be available in 2014, and Microsoft seem even further away.

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Revealed: What the US taxman really thinks of crypto-cash Bitcoin

Brangdon

When you buy bitcoin from a reputable exchange, it will be subject to Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering laws, so the coins are known to belong to you. Every transaction afterwards is published in the block-chain, which anyone can access. So bitcoin is actually very traceable, at least compared to cash. Whether anyone will bother is another matter, but if you get audited the data trail exists and can be used, either for you or against you.

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