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* Posts by the spectacularly refined chap

412 posts • joined 27 Dec 2008

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MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Bleeding obvious ?

Venus is in our Goldilocks zone too. So that's only a 33% hit rate in our Solar System.

Over geological time it isn't - if it formed in a similar manner to the Earth it certainly had water at one point but has lost it: it's close enough to the Sun that water vapour could boil off and completely escape the atmosphere, unlike Earth where it is firmly trapped. Venus is dry as bone as a consequence, and it is that that has caused such an extreme climate - no water means no rain to wash CO₂ out of the atmosphere, which shuts down the long term carbon cycle resulting in a dense CO₂ atmosphere and generally unpleasant climate.

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Will the next US-EU trade pact prevent Brussels acting against US tech giants?

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Formerly, your gov. sucked - you moved to the US. Today, there is no recourse.

AFAIK things work just fine, apart from the potentially annoying requirement of multinationals to actually follow the laws as they exist locally.

But they don't always. Consider one of the most basic examples - nationalisation of corporate assets without compensation. If you think this can't happen just look as far as Zimbabwe and Venezuela. Tin pot governments to be sure, but is it just that a national government can simply swipe the assets of a foreign investor who has invested in good faith and has developed the economy of that country? Legal safeguards on the powers of governments are nothing new (take the ECHR for example) and provide greater certainty and protections against the whims of a corrupt or overly populist government.

If you accept that then yes, it becomes an issue of extent. I personally wouldn't trust whatever the US is proposing as far as I could throw it - the political system has been dominated by corporate shills for far too long. The EU does have a better track record of balancing this kind of issues where the interests of governments, corporations and individuals conflict. Personally I'm willing to wait and see what is actually proposed as opposed to a knee jerk "the government can do what it wants, no matter how corrupt or how desperately it is attempting to hold on to power".

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Don't put that duffel bag full of cash in the hotel room safe

the spectacularly refined chap
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Rather like our planes are safe from the hijack danger of the metal cutlery that 1st class passengers are given onboard. This is because Al Qaeda HR policy is that people have to fly economy, on pain of a disciplinary interview...

Nope, plastic cutlery even in first. It was one of the things people commented on when Concorde scheduled services resumed following its crash - 9/11 happened while it was out. It had been solid silver stuff prior to that.

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Redmond may buy security company it says is wrong about AD flaw

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Well-understood limitation of Microsoft Kerberos?

That would be Microsoft Kerberos, the one that's incompatible with MIT Kerberos.

Fair's fair... that isn't really true. There's a difference between vendor-specific extensions and breaking compatibility. We have Windows machines authenticating against MIT Kerberos and indeed vice versa. Windows does need a little fettling since it regards that as an inter-realm relationship (because of the lack of those extensions) but they will interoperate. It's pretty much essential if you want Windows and Unix systems to interoperate in anything like a seamless manner with common user accounts on each.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Um

It's more of a feature - essentially it is a negotiation "I can't do Kerberos", "OK, use this instead", where the alternative is known not to be bullet proof. As another poster has already commented you're given choices about the default security level as pat of the installation and it is explained that the backwards-compatible alternative is less secure. Really the only substance I can see is the lack of proper logging.

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July 14, 2015. Tuesday. No more support for Windows Server 2003. Good luck

the spectacularly refined chap
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The reason is that they bought a server and software when server 2003 was the windows Server OS of choice. They bought that hardware and OS because the software they had just bought needed the latest version of the OS to run. 10 years on and the software hasn't changed so neither have the hardware or OS requirements.

There's no technical reason I can think of for wanting server 2003 over 2012 providing the hardware is up to the job of running the new OS.

Neither assertion is really true. Most of our servers are Unix based but we have precisely two 2003 VMs running those odd jobs that absolutely must run on Windows. 2003 was chosen for a reason - it seems that the WGA stuff in 2008 onwards has a tendency to false positives on Xen. The documented way around that is a licensing server which means special agreements and basically a lot of infrastructure to support only two VMs.

As for "no technical reason I can think of" I pity your lack of imagination. One that immediately comes to mind is that it is 64 bit only so if you still have any legacy 16 bit code you are plain out of luck. That isn't as easily dismissed as you might imagine outside the mainstream - for example we have a few pieces of test equipment that are still dependent on 16 bit control apps. It's a difficult business case arguing that £30,000+ of plant needs to be replaced halfway through its natural operating life simply because of a change in Microsoft's supported platforms.

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Qualcomm fires DMCA shotgun at alleged code thieves on GitHub – including itself

the spectacularly refined chap
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These are getting too much

This is hardly the first time perfectly legitimate content has had false claims made against it. Assuming that many of these files are indeed completely innocent and there has simply been some dumb or careless pattern match there needs to be some comeback on spurious requests such as these.

I know the DMCA is loaded in favour of the supposed rights holder but there should be some method of seeking true redress over and above getting the files restored in three weeks or so. Slander? Business disruption or loss of income? IANAL but perhaps someone more familiar with the law can point out possible avenues to pursue so these trolls get their comeuppance.

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Oh SNAP! Old-school '80s Unix hack to smack OSX, iOS, Red Hat?

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: -- anyone?

most UNIX systems do not support --, but on linux (and most probably, BSD) this should do the trick.

That goes back a long way - it probably predates Linux. It's guideline 10 of the utility syntax guidelines (POSIX.1 section 12.2, at least in the 2008 revision which is what immediately comes to hand here). Can't say definitively whether that term was included but I recognise the precise wording of many of those terms as far back as the SCO OpenServer docs, circa 1994 or so.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: which is why...

Indeed. I've gone right through this "paper" and there is nothing new. It's enough to make you smile in places.

1) It isn't that "even many security-related people" are not well aware of these kinds of issue and how to guard against them. The problem is noobs presenting themselves as self-styled security gurus. I've been using Unix systems as my primary OS since the early 90s and this was well documented then. It was well known enough that some even advocated using it to your advantage - placing a file "-i" in key directories such as root as a protection against fat finger syndrome. In this case this lack of real experience and expertise on the part of the author is further evidenced by the next point.

2) A lot of these examples are in reality duff. At several points in the paper assertions are made along the lines of "command accepts a particular --long-option" without any further clarification, to which my immediate response was "No it doesn't". The author confuses GNU extensions with POSIX options or other options widely supported outside a GNU userland. The POSIX standard committee do scrutinise the semantics of tools with a view to vulnerabilities such as these.

If you use a system that extends those tools in a way that could potentially be "exploited" then that is a flaw in the particular revised version. It doesn't affect other implementations and so can't be extended to all variants. I'm not going to get involved in a debate as to whether those extensions are useful or desirable, but the fact that the author is unable to distinguish between the two itself speaks volumes.

What's the follow up? Let me guess: Brand new discovery! Re-setting $IFS can expose vulnerabilities in poorly written scripts! No-one has ever noticed this before!

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Cambridge Assessment exams CHAOS: Computing students' work may be BINNED

the spectacularly refined chap
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Of course, because closed book memory tests are sooooo representative of useful skills in the real world. In practice these work strongly in favour of people with good memories for arcane detail who can write quickly. Those two skills are fairly unimportant in my business.

Yes, they are. Computing is not a purely interpretive sector but has substantial creative aspect - deciding exactly how something is supposed to work or indeed what it is supposed to do at a level of detail beyond the headline "make an X..." Those aren't things that lend themselves to being looked up, or at least if they are you need to know that there is something to look up in the first place.

Far too many times I've seen new programmers a year or so out of Uni make the most basic errors. Like spending an entire afternoon writing a 100 line block of code that (if you eventually got it working) exactly replicates a standard library function. Or the one with a first class degree from one of the better red bricks who had somehow missed layer 2 switching and was expecting to get meaningful data from packet sniffing.

In both cases you could have avoided the issue in the first place by passing them an appropriate document or link at the outset and telling them "read that first". However, that didn't happen and they didn't go and find those references themselves: they didn't know enough to know that there was something they didn't know, and therefore they didn't know that there was something to look up. "Everything is on the Internet" is an excuse, not a justification for lack of study.

Of course, there are always going to be details that you have to look up - the field is far too big to be able to carry around everything in your head. However there has to be a solid core of actual knowledge rather than Googling skills to put everything into context, suggest an initial approach to a given problem, and to spot any potential pitfalls along the way. GCSE level is pretty basic stuff, pretty much all of it is going to go into that foundational core. I've little problem with formula books or command summaries, but the idea they can bring in any explanatory material they like or look anything up on the Internet is doing them a massive disservice in the long run.

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USB charger is prime suspect in death of Australian woman

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: More official advice completely divorced from reality

Be prepared to be amazed…. then understand that it only takes a single capacitor or resistor to be out of spec for the available current to rise, or in the case of some really SHITTY usb chargers for the way you plug the charger into the wall adaptor to be reversed!!!!!

You accuse me of ignorance but it is you that has missed the point there. Redo the same experiment only with an analog meter in place of the DMM. You'll read nothing: class II appliances operate from a floating supply - no connection between the low voltage side and earth or indeed any other mains terminal. The voltage is therefore indeterminate and can easily drift to a silly value under even static or chemical influences. There's no current maintaining that voltage though, so it can easily be shifted back again. In the case of the DMM the input impedance is a fair approximation of infinite so you read the silly value. An analog meter has much lower but still fairly high impedance (tens of K) - even that loose tying of the supplies together is enough to shift the voltage back to equilibrium.

This is a safety feature, not a hazard: it ensures that any single part of the low voltage side can be accidentally connected to any voltage without a short occurring. The appliance potentially becomes live but it isn't going to catch fire or anything like that.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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More official advice completely divorced from reality

That last bit of advice is a bit hard to swallow: your correspondent, as do millions of others every day, works on a laptop with a mains connection.

Too true. Does any government official ever consider whether people's bullshit detectors will fire when spouting crap like that? The issue here is dangerous chargers, not using devices while connected. Logically there is no real difference between using a mains-powered device while it is attached to the mains and using a portable device while attached to the mains. If anything the later is probably safer.

But no, admitting that you can't enforce the law properly and keep unsafe kit off the market wouldn't look well, so you get crap like that instead. Keep it simple and aligned with reality - i.e. "Buy from reputable sources, make sure the device has these markings" - and you stand a chance of people paying attention. Load it with bull and the end result is the entire message gets disregarded.

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US Supremes just blew Aereo out of the water

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Sad? probably. Surprising? no.

Of course they matter.

This is a discussion forum attached to a news site.

If people didn't post what they "think" it wouldn't be here.

That's fine when it is restricted to matters of opinion. I've no problem at all with people stating "I think this went the wrong way" or "I predict unintended consequences" but it becomes problematic when opinion and fact are confused, for example as the OP stated "I would agree that they were violating copyright". Really, it doesn't matter one jot what you think: if your thoughts are not in alignment with those of the courts then it is you that is in error: that is what has been determined here. If there is an established, incontrovertible fact then that is not open to debate or opinion simply because you find it unpalatable.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Sad? probably. Surprising? no.

IF Aereo were rebroadcasting "closed" content such as ESPN or other cable/satellite-only content, then I would agree that they were violating copyright.

You don't seem to understand - they ARE violating copyright simply because the supremes have decided that they are, and that court is the definitive arbiter of whether they are or are not. That's a simple matter of fact - if you choose not to agree with that simple truth you are a fool.

I've no strong views on this and couldn't care less either way, but I really don't see how you can place your own uniformed, amateurish interpretations of legislation above what is now established case law. The people qualified to judge have done so. Get over it.

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AMD details aggressive power-efficiency goal: 25X boost by 2020

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Maybe answering the wrong question

crappily written software typically using hideous O(n >> 1) algorithms

Go away and learn what that actually means, it's clear that you don't. When you know what you are talking about you may be worth paying some attention to. Depending on the exact intent of (n >> 1) (much larger or left shift) you end up with either constant or linear time behaviour. Both are generally considered "fast", and well under even the theoretical minimum complexity of many tasks.

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Apple SOLDERS memory into new 'budget' iMac

the spectacularly refined chap
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Interesting - this used to happen quite a bit and the solution was to look at the circuit and piggy back some more RAM on top of the existing RAM chips with a couple of trace cuts and added wires. Done it myself several times with both discrete and SMT components.

You can forget it these days. Physical access to the connections is not an issue - what memory doesn't use TSSOP packages after all - rather it's the sheer speed of modern memory. Signals are now firmly into transmission line territory, timing is critical and you need to avoid any impedance humps along the way. Even back in the PC100 days this kind of manual hacking would be enough to push things out of spec although there was usually enough slack to accommodate anything that was not grossly wrong, but with the latest revisions of DDR3 etc you can dismiss any idea of attempting this straight away.

Look at the kind of things high speed board designers factor into consideration as a matter of course - track lengths and widths, characteristic impedances, thickness of the substrate and even the precise grade of fibreglass used for that substrate - they are not doing that kind of analysis to pass the time. What chance do you have of even approximating the same results with a manually hacked board with patch wires routed completely at random?

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We'll PROBE Pluto's MOON CRACKS for mystery ocean – NASA

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: "the one-time planet (now characterised as an a "dwarf planet")"

While we are getting all bothered about classification, can we please stop calling Charon a moon? The barycenter is outside Pluto, so Charon isn't Pluto's moon. They are a binary system.

That isn't a requirement to be a moon - there is no formal definition of a moon. However, the fact remains that Charon has been officially designated as a moon of Pluto. The barycentric argument doesn't really stack up when you think about it - logically that would mean that Jupiter is not a planet since the Sun-Jupiter barycenter is outside the Sun.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: "the one-time planet (now characterised as an a "dwarf planet")"

A Dwarf Planet is still a Planet...

The IAU disagree with you, and it is they that defined both terms.

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BOFH: On the contrary, we LOVE rebranding here at the IT dept

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Signs on the reserved parking spaces:

Business Unit Timesheet Operations Controller (I really instigated that one)

In one public sector place I worked at what would normally be called "fire wardens" were in fact Deputy Incident Control Officers. They were referred to as DICO's even in the official procedure manual, and the uniform donned whenever the alarms went off was a yellow hi-vis waistcoat with DICO on the back...

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Microsoft promises no snooping in new fine print for web services

the spectacularly refined chap
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Bullshit

To a first approximation, any contract entered into by a minor is invalid, so the small print is moot - if the contract is invalid so are the terms mandating that a legal guardian must sign on the minor's behalf. It's Microsoft's job to ensure that the second party is legally able to assent, not the other way around.

That's without even considering the legal black hole those terms create: if I don't know if I am still a minor but on finding out that no, I am not, I must still find my legal guardian that I don't actually have.

The more I read these boilerplate contracts the more I am convinced that illegal terms should invalidate the entire contract as opposed to the specific section: i.e. "that clause is unenforceable so you don't have a contract", not "you tried to breach their rights that way but you can't, we'll still allow you to rip them off this other way".

If that was the default position we might start seeing some more reasonable terms in these contracts that everybody reads before clicking through.

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Thanks for nothing, OpenSSL, grumbles stonewalled De Raadt

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: What law/legal requirement

As the article clearly points out, they have an ethical requirement to tell the OpenBSD project.

De Raadt basically said "You guys can't be trusted with it, we are going to take care of it from now on." He accepted the responsibility, he has no-one else to blame when his inaction means that there is a problem with his code.

Maybe the OpenSSL devs are stonewalling them, maybe not. To be honest I neither know nor care, but if you simultaneously insult a group of people and take credit for their work that means taking responsibility for the problems too.

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Apple? More like FAP-PLE: Fanbois are the BIGGEST PERVS, say people who know

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: It's obvious...

But I'm shocked, really, given the lack of a Flash player in iOS.

That was my thought too but oddly that is why I am not shocked. Most video sites are still heavily dependent on Flash so it follows that the HTML5 sites are going to do proportionately better on platforms that don't support Flash.

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Queen's Speech: Computer Misuse Act to be amended, tougher sentences planned

the spectacularly refined chap
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Computer Misuse Act needs more of an update than that

Bear in mind that it's 24 years old, i.e. it dates from an era when Internet access was still pretty exclusive. There are all kinds of things that need sharpening up in the modern connected world - unauthorized access comes to mind immediately.

Realistically you have to accept some form of implied consent for things like access to a public-facing website, but that in itself opens up another can of worms if there is some kind of vulnerability: if something is put up there inadvertently meaning you can access it when the company didn't intend you to be able to then rationally that's their problem. If on the other hand you create some pattern of input that triggers a bug that allows you to access something you shouldn't you're breaking the law. The precise boundary between the two is completely undefined.

Ideally you'd address that before it comes up in court. They're not going to so someone is going to either get convicted unfairly or get off when they shouldn't have. It's all clearly foreseeable now but it might need a bit of effort to actually fix it.

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'Inaccurate' media misleads public on European Court's Google ruling

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Not buying this "often-cited"

Do they have an example of the often-cited example?

Maria Lutzke comes to mind straight away. Mercifully, most distributions of that video misspell her name, but if you put in the correct one you still see references to it on the first page of Google results.

It's of interest to the public (or the male half of the public), but not in the public interest. It's ten years later now and yes, she was very foolish as a student. That doesn't make it right that it is the first thing anyone finds when they look her up, now and for the rest of her life.

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HP breaks ranks: Foresees data ARCHIVING on Flash

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: For marketroid values of "archival"

You'd be right apart from the bit you're ignoring which is that the medium is NEVER considered reliable in long term archival. Tape archives are re-cycled every 5 years to make sure the data is there.

But that cuts both ways: if you have a medium where the data is expected to last 15-20 years you may legitimately decide to copy the data every five. If your medium is expected to no more than 6-7 years you are going to copy every two. The reliability of the medium is a critical consideration to any properly managed archive: ignoring it is a badly managed archive no matter how much effort goes into it.

You need also to realise that needlessly copying data can cause just as many issues as letting the media decay to intelligibility, yes, even with e.g. read-after-write verification or even checksumming. That's why the properly managed archives reject "copy every X years" as hopelessly amateurish in favour of a statistical random sampling approach.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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For marketroid values of "archival"

Everyday use of the term means something I can save to, stick it on the shelf for 15 years and then say "Oh, I need to refer back to that" and have a better than evens chance of being able to actually read it. I don't think that is what they mean here.

It seems that every time flash begins to get anywhere near the level of reliability needed for that kind of role they jack up the capacity and lose everything they have gained. Perhaps more so - you could buy EEPROMs with 40 year retention guarantees since at least the early 80s. These days flash manufacturers seem to think they are doing you a service guaranteeing even five. Multi-terabyte flash drives are still a couple of generations off (at least in cost effective form) so it isn't even as if they are suggesting going back to tried and trusted tech.

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

the spectacularly refined chap
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In a perfect world...

I want a warp drive, light saber and Karen Gillan sexbot humanoid cleaning robot.

In the real world I'd settle for more mundane stuff:

  • three button mice
  • personal (or even small workgroup) printers with ream-at-a-time paper trays
  • more laptops with real serial ports
  • small, cheap, fanless switches with VLAN and STP support

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Bondi shark alert systems beams warning to nobody on Google Plus

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: IT IS WET

It's like that sponsorship message on Dave.

"In a fight between character and a shark, character always wins... unless it's underwater."

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Chuh. Heavy, dude: HP ZBook 17 mobile workstation

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Pricey and f*ck ugly..

I've seen a £300 laptop that has more design and character than this. If your tempted by this, please shop elsewhere, you will be suprised.

Ah, the perennial "I don't want one so anyone who does must be wrong" commentard.

If you don't want one, that's fine. I don't want one either. However, I can foresee plenty of use cases where a machine such as this is highly appropriate. The key distinguisher here is that large deep colour screen: it's enough to get it on some short lists by itself, and no, they're not all Photoshoppers although they will be a sizable fraction of that contingent. Deep colour has other uses and that screen is large enough with a wide enough viewing angle for two or three people to comfortably gather around. One use case that immediately comes to mind would be my wife (astrophysicist) and her colleagues: I can easily imagine them setting up a couple of these in an observatory at the start of an observing session. That portage would come in handy there too, and also for plenty of other users as well, although for me I'd still prefer a real serial port on the main chassis.

Your proposed alternative doesn't even attempt to match that screen so how it can be considered "pretty much the same spec" I don't know. You steer people away from this machine with no reference to the proposed use case, you cite alternatives that are not even in the same market segment, and use your own personal sense of aesthetics as the final arbiter of whether a machine is worth buying in a classic case of form over function.

What there gives any credence at all to your buying advice?

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French teen fined for illegal drone flight

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Stupid bureaucrats

It wasn't the imagination that was fined, it was the unlawful drone flight. Flying is regulated around the world (and the laws are pretty much the same everywhere).

The laws for UAV are inherited from model aircraft and in fact vary considerably around the world. Here in the UK the flying side of things is basically open season for models under 5kg. Law on trespass does limit the land you can fly from or over but in the case of public land that is determined by council bylaws rather than national legislation.

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Don't snap SELFIES at the polls – it may screw up voting, says official

the spectacularly refined chap
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NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!! The serial numbers are ***NOT**** available for public inspection, that needs an electoral court order with large amounts of evidence of likelyhood of fraud.

I stand corrected. I could have sworn on previous occasions they've jotted the serial number down directly on the register but watched them more closely today, instead they record your register number on the a list of ballot papers allocated.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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No, they are party members who will simply ask for your electoral register number. IME, they won't ask you which way you voted. This way they can find out from the electoral register who can be bothered to vote, and target their junk mail accordingly. If you want to receive this mail during the next election campaign, tell them your number, otherwise just ignore them.

They don't need to do that. The marked registers (the ones with the serial number jotted down on) are available for public inspection after the election, although the ballot papers they refer to obviously remain under lock and key. Who voted in any given election is public domain knowledge.

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Job for IT generalist ...

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: So what _can_ you do?

I'm sorry, but you are really not selling yourself well here. From what it reads like, you can barely program.

I first read this on Friday and I was thinking pretty much the same thing. There's plenty of soft claims here but very little demonstrable, and things like that C# remark don't impress me but give me immediate cause for concern. What was this mistake? How did you know it was a mistake and not something that was simply incomplete? Is it possible things had been arranged like that for a reason.

Of course you are not going to post your entire CV here but I want to see evidence. Qualifications, certificates? Work history? Saying you can program in twenty different languages with nothing to back that up will get your CV deleted with no further thought. Two or three and you might have bought yourself a few more seconds consideration. Then I might start asking for evidence.

So you can program? Where's the two years experience as a programmer - no your degree doesn't count, but I'll accept a 10,000 line hobby project as alternate evidence. That takes a hell of a lot longer than two days to compose but anything less and you're not properly seasoned.

As it stands based on the limited information available I doubt I'd consider you even for a junior position. Instinctively you sound to me not as a generalist but as a pre-specialist, and trust me there is never any shortage of those applying for pretty much any job we advertise. That is to say you've got a minimal broad-brush knowledge and think you know the business when in reality you've yet to learn how much more you need to learn. The true generalists I know generally went through a specialist period, gaining advanced skills in one area and the ability to demonstrate them in a concrete manner, before slowly branching out again after they had gained a little mid-level experience.

Yes, I know my tone sounds harsh but it is reality. I focus you in to two basic options: Firstly take a graduate recruitment programme for one of the multinationals if you are eligible for those. Those will preserve you generality to at least some degree but you may not have as much choice in your initial career path as you would like. The second is to find a specialism and focus on that for two or three years. Once you have a concrete skill under your belt employers are more willing you invest in you, expanding your skill base into additional areas and allowing you to branch out into a more general role.

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Google Maps can now tell cyclists how HIGH they will get

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Appears to be a US thing

riddle me this: "mountain bikes may need to slow down a bit more for corners."

Primarily that's down to the tyres, although there are umpteen other less significant factors: ultimately it shouldn't be too surprising that a bike designed from the outset to be as fast as possible on roads is faster on roads than one designed to navigate dirt trails and rough terrain.

Road bike tyres don't give an awful lot of grip (most methods of improving grip cost speed) but the grip they do provide is very consistent as the amount of lean varies - the tyres have a semicircular cross section and are either completely slick or have negligible tread. It doesn't matter if the bike is vertical or keeled over 45⁰ - the size and shape of the contact patch with the road doesn't significantly alter.

Mountain bikes in contrast have much broader tyres with deep treads to provide additional grip on lose surfaces. They are also made of tougher compound which is naturally less sticky to provide the strength needed for that deep tread, and are more oval in profile. That means that as the bike is leant over the contact patch gets smaller as you get more onto the shoulder of the tyre.

This gets worse with "combination" tyres, where the tread becomes a lot more pronounced as you move away from the centre - the idea there is that in an upright position with fully inflated tyres you have little tread in contact with the road which is what you want for grip, but if you partially deflate the tyres for off-road use the additional "knobbles" engage with the looser off-road surface. With those if you lean the bike over you stop riding on the low-tread area, resulting in a pronounced (and sometimes abrupt) loss of grip.

The net result is that a road bike is much more grippy at a decent angle of lean than a mountain bike, and it's that which ultimately governs how fast you can take a corner.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Appears to be a US thing

At least in part anyway. I just tried entering a trip I know well on a bike here in the UK and was actually surprised to see it select the route I would take - it isn't very long since Google took you out of the way with those locations to send you along main roads. However, no elevation figures.

Google tells me that it is 6.2 miles. Ordnance Survey tell me that end to end it is an overall 300' climb - no easy way to tell the actual amount climbed since it is up and down along the way. On the other hand I give the route one way (uphill) and it quotes the time as 36 minutes which is about right. In the reverse (along the identical route) it states 30 minutes whereas I reckon on it being closer to 20, although admittedly that's on a dedicated road bike, mountain bikes may need to slow down a bit more for corners.

Overall conclusion must be that it obviously knows something of the terrain even if it isn't quoting the precise figures.

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Archos ArcBook: An Android netbook for a measly hundred-and-seventy clams

the spectacularly refined chap
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Terrible display...

I thought that as well. I see the "Why would anyone want one?" (read "I don't want one") commentards are already out below, but I can see some use for this.

It's like netbooks were supposed to be before they tried to go upmarket, but that was five years ago - you'd expect a higher res screen these days. Gimme a cheap machine with keyboard and mouse (or mouse substitute) and provided I can ssh/VNC/whatever into another machine even basic functionality on top of that is a bonus. But that screen inevitably means you have a postage stamp sized window into a much larger desktop. Not necessarily a show stopper (especially with that battery life) but it does make it a cheap naff alternative to something else instead of a cheap option that does everything I'd want.

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Nintendo says sorry, but there will be NO gay marriage in Tomodachi Life ... EVER

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: "such a significant development change"?

Actually I can see exactly how this can be hard-coded in, and no it isn't a ridiculous way to look at the problem. It has nothing to do with the representation of gender - this isn't about individuals but relationships, in other words it is a set problem. Consider two possible C-style representations of a marriage:

struct marriage {

struct person *partners[2];

}

struct marriage {

struct person *husband,

struct person *wife,

};

The first form treats each partner as being equivalent so wouldn't have this issue but places additional complexity into the code. The second is more constrained and would not allow for gay marraige, but the more specific nature allows code to operate more from context and with fewer corner cases.

For example, say you want to add the two parties separately to the marriage - that would generally be a bad idea but may be appropriate for some code bases. It's simple in the second case - if the person is a male then it refers to the husband. If female it refers to the wife. In the first case you have to identify which partner is to be updated which in turn throws up a corner case - what if there are already two people in the marriage?

Another case would be where you want to unambiguously refer to the wife in a marriage, e.g. to change their name. No problem in the second case, it's additional decisions in the first even in the non-problem case where a marriage contains exactly one woman.

Those are common-sense optimisations if you do not need to represent gay marriage. Changing this retrospectively to allow for gay marriage means changing function prototypes and a structure definition, and all code that depends on those, something that has a tendency to spread throughout the entire program. If the code base is arranged anything like that then that is the reality, which does not alter according to what you want to be the case.

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Robins' inbuilt navigators pecked to bits by AM radio

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Migratory Robin?

Ours are lazy then. There is no MW radio here (during daylight and Robins don't fly after dark) and the Robins never go anywhere.

Our robins do migrate but it took a while to figure out since we have a robin population all year round - the robins we have in summer fly south for winter. The robins we have in winter arrive here from further north.

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Victory for Microsoft as Supremes decline to hear Novell's WordPerfect whine

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Good

It took a while to get properly accustomed to Windows - the first versions were distinctly CA-Textor-ish in look and feel. However by the time Novell had done a proper rework it was actually quite nice - in fact I'd have to say that 6.1 is probably still my all-time favourite word processor - it did everything you wanted in an uncluttered way. When Word 6 was still taking over half the screen with at least three toolbars and various other clutter in the status area, WP6.1 presented you with a single context-sensitive toolbar (that actually showed what you wanted) and a skinny "powerbar" underneath for formatting operations.

What killed it is that it wasn't an attractive bundling option. OEM Office was heavily discounted in the early 90s, much more than now, to the point even most home systems seemed to have it bundled. If there wasn't enough in the budget for that there was Works or SmartSuite. WordPerfect was caught in the middle making it a £300 purchase on top of the machine.

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Top tip, power users – upgrading Ubuntu may knacker your Linux PC

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Use the VM, Luke

The best thing to do with any new Linux release is to run it in a VM first (e.g. VirtualBox) and have a good play with it to make sure it behaves itself.

Except that it probably wouldn't have helped here. If userland components work in a VM that's a pretty good confidence test but for anything dealing with the hardware - the kernel, drivers and indeed boot loader - it's pretty much a stab in the dark. Differences between emulated and physical hardware are always potential issues. It sounds like something like that is happening here since it's only affecting a subset of users and not everyone, suggesting it is some hardware quirk at issue.

A similar thing happened to me a couple of months ago upgrading a server from NetBSD 6.0 to 6.1. Fire up a VM - yes, the bare OS works. Rebuild the applications and test those.. check. Apply current production configuration to the VM and make sure nothing breaks... check. Install on the physical hardware and make sure it boots - no problem. Re-install applications and user data - again no problems. Load on some archived data from DVD+R - fine. Drop in a DVD-RAM... oops.

VMs just don't show problems like that.

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Spy back doors? That would be suicide, says Huawei

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Why worry about back doors

If you are sending anything over a public network that you aren't happy for everyone to see you'd better make sure it's encrypted before it leaves your (secure) network, anything else is plain stupidity.

Why worry? Perhaps because it doesn't address the issue? It's an attitude that is typical of very poor security, namely focusing on a single possible attack vector and ignoring everything else.

Suitably robust encryption protects you against eavesdropping and nothing else, and that's assuming your idea of suitably robust correlates with GCHQ/NSA/FSB/whoever. It does nothing to protect you from other attack vectors. Let's face it - most companies simply are not of interest to the intelligence community in any event. They're still vulnerable if routing between their WAN nodes is deliberately buggered up in a nationwide DoS attack. Then you can rest easy that no-one is getting their hands on your sensitive data, including the intended recipient.

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DeSENSORtised: Why the 'Internet of Things' will FAIL without IPv6

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Bridging IPv4 to IPv6

I'm a little surprised that ISP's aren't offering an IPv6 subscription offering, perhaps the IPv6 Forum need to start lobbying Facebook et al and get them to make their services available over native IPv6 and so start to create a market for IPv6.

The problem is that to date there has been no "pull" making the users want IPv6. It could have been done easily - think about how many questions you see of the form "How do I set my NAT type to 'open'" (whatever that means) from console users? If Xbox One/PS4 had been IPv6 by default and they explained "If you want to use IPv4 these are the additional hoops you need to jump through because of NAT" every new consumer router would be IPv6 enabled by now, and ISPs would be falling over themselves to provide IPv6 access.

Right now the IP address shortage is simply somebody else's problem as far as the end user is concerned - there's no benefit to them at all.

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Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: What? Dates and times still a problem?

In short, GMT is a time-zone, and UTC is a timekeeping system:

Err, no. GMT is the natural observed time as modified by the equation of time (hence the "mean", since it is an averaged over the year to compensate for the Earth's elliptical orbit). UT1 is basically GMT with a slightly sharpened-up definition because the original was a little vague by modern standards of precision.

UTC is the time as determined by atomic clocks and needs leap seconds inserting periodically to keep it within 0.9 seconds of UT1. For most everyday purposes you can consider the GMT and UTC to be the same but you don't get leap seconds in GMT.

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US biz spaffed more dosh on internet ads than TV spots in 2013

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: 25% wasted

I might buy a DVD off the t'internet but no way would I consider banking with Bank of Uganda or buying a car from a website advert.

I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting that a big-ticket purchase such as a car is going to be bought solely on the strength of a banner ad. However, if it creates awareness that might possibly cause an option onto the short list when otherwise it wouldn't.

As a simple example I just typed in "two seater convertible under £20,000" in to Google. I got three adverts above the main results, mentioning the Mini convertible, the Audi Cabriolet Range and the Citroën DS3 Convertible. If I'm entering that specific search there's a very good chance I'm considering a purchase, even if it's only an idle day dream at that point. Getting those names into my mind is worth money to the advertiser, even if I never even click through on those ads, since there's some kind of awareness of them created as I conduct my research. After all, I can't buy a particular model of car if I don't know that it exists.

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Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Only 44%?

Surely it must be more than that? The silent 44% are dummies set up solely to boost someone else's follower count and of that 56% who do tweet half exist purely for fake sycophantic replies and retweets to further "improve" the standing of the real user.

Twitter has always struck me as being an incredibly narcissistic premise to begin with, there must be a hell of a lot of self-flattery underlying their usage statistics.

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IBM was wrong to force UK workers off final salary pensions – judge

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Read between the lines

This is a common mis-understanding - that the interests of the stockholders are determined on a quarter-by-quarter basis by only how high the stock price rises or how much can be paid out in dividends.

I never said that they were. Of course "shareholder value" is a vague concept and indeed in theory at least allows for value to be attributed to non-monetary or even intangible benefits. However, the primary goal must always be to maximise those benefits to the shareholder, however they are judged. That means any spending on the greater good can only be justified to the expect there is an ultimate payback to the company or its shareholders, whether that be good PR, avoiding boycotts or improving staff retention. Directors don't have discretion to invest in the public (or indeed employee) good if there is no benefit to the company.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Read between the lines

IBM remains committed to paying its employees and retirees as little as we can get away with so we can pay our shareholders more.

Well, yes. The primary duty of any company director is legally defined as to maximise shareholder value, after all it is the shareholders for whom they are ultimately working. Anything else - environmental friendliness, ethical practices, social goods or in this case employee compensation - can only be justified to the extent that it benefits the shareholder.

That isn't some particularly ruthless business attitude, it's the law. It has attracted plenty of criticism in the past for not allowing for companies set up in the pursuit of e.g. particular environmental goals, but that wouldn't cover IBM in any event. Like it or not IBM top brass are doing precisely what they are required to.

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Windows XP is finally DEAD, right? Er, not quite. Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: This comment is totall Bullsh--!

Oh those hardware running with embedded chips? Not running XP - running XP embedded, which is STILL supported for free.

Don't believe it - there is an awful lot of oddball hardware out there doing things you'd never think of in a thousand years, and they could be running pretty much anything. One of my colleagues has an oscilloscope on his bench still running Windows 98. It's 15 years old so ancient by IT standards but only a bit past mid-life by instrumentation standards. Of course it's moved down from high-end to mid-range in that time (i.e. from the super-duper one-per-department scope to a personal bench scope) but it'll probably have another five years within the company and probably another decade at least in the hands of some amateur when it gets moved on. There's plenty of other examples, in fact I believe the later models of that very scope were indeed XP Pro powered.

It would have been £10,000-£15,000 scope new, probably even today it would be £1500-£2000 to replace - it's not the kind of thing you do on a whim without clear benefits.

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

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Linus for motivational speaker?

But coder's widget is fundamental to Linux and affects the kernel people fundamentally.

How do you get dis guy to fix his stuff?

Public shaming, if nothing else works ... ?

That isn't how open source works. The idea is if you don't fix the bug someone else will. Too often of course the premise fails: 1% of the user base have the ability to fix the problem and of those high-earners perhaps 1% have the time and inclination to do something about it. Before you dispute this consider how many long-standing security bugs were recently found that can ultimately be traced back to the MIT X release. It didn't work there, did it?

The open source contract works both ways: essentially it reads as "Here is what I have done, knock yourself out with it". It doesn't mean "This is my baby, you must feed it, and if you don't have breasts you must grow them".

Don't get me wrong, I am generally pro-open source, but the quid pro quo is that no one has any duty to do anything, no matter how much you might like them to.

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