* Posts by the spectacularly refined chap

522 posts • joined 27 Dec 2008

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BOFFINS: Oxygen-free, methane-based ALIENS may EXIST on icy SATURN moon Titan

the spectacularly refined chap
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How much of a mess has been left on the Moon as of now?

Serious question. Descent stages for six Apollos, the buggies for the later ones, Lunokhod, Ranger impact, etc. Any more?

There's actually a surprising amount of stuff up there, much as I hate quoting Wikipedia they do have this list which lists some of them, although for many there are in fact several objects for each listing - random pieces of wreckage for the crash landings and assorted litter and equipment from the Apollo missions.

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Net neutrality victory: FCC approves 'open internet' rules in 3-2 vote

the spectacularly refined chap
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Currently NO ISP is charging content providers off their networks with interconnect fees. Market forces are stopping that. If the market already stops that, why does the government have to step in to "stop" something not happening?

Careful there, you are answering the wrong question and doing so incorrectly. Netflix are not themselves a Tier 1 network, indeed most of their "network" is actually Amazon's.

You need to look into how inter-network routing actually works which is as much by negotiation and contract as it is technical. NN is nothing to do with mandating some form of universal peering arrangement, per-byte charges already exist, have always existed, and will continue to exist even if this has been passed in the form people are assuming it has.

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Amazon tries to patent 3D printers on trucks

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: How on Earth is this patentable?

they have been awarded a patent but it is worth nothing until it is tested in court.

They have applied for a patent.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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How on Earth is this patentable?

The mobile manufacture element is only a tiny part of the claim, what is actually being claimed here is essentially a 3D printing bureau service of the kind that has been around for 20 years. The only difference I can see is the introduction of a library of third party designs that can be selected by the user, instead of needing to supply a design at time of order. Hardly a groundbreaking step, indeed it could be argued that making a request "Send me one of your demo models" to a 3D printer vendor is prior art here.

Yes, I know the US patent system is hopelessly broken but even so I surprised they would think it worth the time even trying to patent this.

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Get yourself connected: GrovePi+ Starter Kit

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: argh!

Not necessarily - it might be that they'll do the electronics later, or are doing it in a different class.

Not in school. People seem to massively overestimate the standard of anything taught in school. Admitted this is 20 years ago but when I was there calculating using Ohm's law was at level 9 on the curriculum - i.e. the standard expected of an 'A' student at GCSE. In that context even simple things such as determining the value of a base resistor (part research, part calculation, part judgement) are completely off the menu.

You can blame that squarely on the National Curriculum - if everyone has to cover everything the coverage becomes so wafer-thin that it is of little practical use. When what became CDT and then D&T was half a dozen separate subjects, e.g. woodwork, metalwork, needlework, cooking, tech drawing and systems - of which you might do perhaps two - you could develop skills to a reasonable level. Now it seems the entire subject is classroom based and the pupils never pick up so much as a junior hacksaw.

Not that that is bad in and of itself - I remember when I was at school logic circuits were on a ready made board and wired with banana plugs. That is enough to teach the principles of what is being taught even if not component level design. It was only at A level electronics the breadboards and soldering irons came out.

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Nvidia U-turns on GTX 900M overclocking after gamer outrage

the spectacularly refined chap
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thats the problem - people want to overclock without accepting the risks

And also that people don't recognise the problems that they themselves have caused. People try an over clock and initially it appears to work. They e.g. try a couple of games on it, oh it still works, forget about the overclock and move on.

Six months later a new game executes a perfectly valid sequence of instructions under conditions that make the timing of that said instruction sequence close to the wire on even stock hardware. With the overclock in place the results are still being computed come the relevant clock edge, errors result and e.g. the computer crashes.

Cue lots of ranting online about how the game, or Windows, or the GPU is a buggy POS because it keeps crashing. Never any mention of the fact that they broke their own computer - they don't even recognise that fact for themselves.

The endless coverage in the gaming rags has caused overclocking to become viewed as a risk-free method of extracting the very best from a machine, and a "cool" thing to do to show how clever you are with computers. To the extent that in some quarters you get labelled a mug who wastes his money if you haven't clocked your system to the very edge of stability under even moderate load. After all, it's how fast your machine is that counts, who cares if it can be guaranteed to work properly?

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Apple: Fine, we admit it – MacBook Pros suffer wonky GPU crapness

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Apple takes no responsibility for its crap.

While I hate being fair to Apple, they do not actually make the things, not an excuse but part of the explanation. Sadly when the real assembler of the bits runs them through the soldering process it is not exactly a craft operation. It is run down to a cost limit, which is bad, a time limit which is necessary to protect the bits and a quality control limit which is supposed to be good.

Yes, but the onus is still on Apple to specify exactly what they want, how is it to be made and what materials they will use, and they will do so in exhaustive detail. Hell, this is a company that goes to exacting lengths even for the cardboard boxes it sells it phones in - that vacuum-induced whoosh when you open an iphone box is not by accident, it is a deliberate feature to subconsciously persuade the buyer they really have bought something of quality.

Selection of soldering processes used will be a far more significant factor than the mere box. Indeed if you look at pretty much any semiconductor data sheet you'll see a section on soldering towards the end. This is something the designers will pay close attention to even at the schematic design stage to ensure all the components needed can be physically assembled on the same board without the involvement of mutually-incompatible processes.

All of the manufacturers do this - after all it is their reputation on the line - even for components. This is why for example if you compare a Dell desktop with an equivalent white box the Dell seems to have too small a power supply - perhaps 400W as opposed to 600W. However if you test the two PSUs side by side you see that the Dell delivers more power, their specifications state how that power rating is to be determined which is more conservative than the optimistic ratings so prevalent on the open market.

Apple are big spenders, not some two bit operation, and can afford to specify anything they want and their suppliers will bend over backwards to deliver it. If the process used is the wrong one it is because Apple said to do it so. If QA is not up to scratch it is because they cut corners in that part of their demands. Note that Apple are not blaming their suppliers here - they realise they have to stand by the quality of their own products. They would take production back in house in a heartbeat if they though poor quality outsourced work was going to damage their reputation.

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NO CLASS: Judge chucks out two class-action lawsuits against Google

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Re: It isn't a matter of making cell phones cost more

No, demanding bundling of the entire package effectively prevents third party subsidies for the inclusion of added services, much like the effective giving away of Windows in the form of Windows with Bing. If you could have had a subsidy but can't you are paying more.

The fact that it might not actually be a good trade off doesn't that doesn't enter into the calculation - it is for the open market rather than the courts to decide what is a "fair" price for a product or service, inclusive of intangibles such as personal data.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: I can see where they are coming from but ...

Sadly most manufacturers go for the "supported" option, rather than having the balls to do it themselves. Back in the day they would be doing all of it from scratch, now we have the usual lazy can't be arsed to manage our own operating system cobblers, even when it is detrimental to their product.

No, the really sad thing is that this is what customers expect and demand. If a device has no Google layered services on top, or indeed Google Play, it gets labelled as cheap or proprietary. The reviewers are no different: you don't need to go any further than this very site for e.g. this review from Alun Taylor for an example:

The elephant in the room is that all these improvements only go so far to compensate for the fact that the Amazon App Store is still short on content compared to the Google Play Store and that you have to forgo Google’s own apps.

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Lenovo shipped lappies with man-in-the-middle ad/mal/bloatware

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Microsoft hardware

Since when is not given true details fraud if there's no financial transaction involved?

The laws on fraud are defined in terms of material gain obtained by deception. Financial transactions are the common form that fraud takes but it can be and is applied much more broadly than that. By giving false info you are receiving a material benefit (the update) which cost the provider real money to supply (power, bandwidth, hardware, etc) on the basis of a false representation. That is not a matter of interpretation - it is clear and outright fraud according to the law.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Microsoft hardware

You've never really used or set up an OSX machine, have you? You need an Apple ID for updates, but it doesn't check if your details are real or not and the associated T&Cs are actually decent.

I was thinking more of the iOS devices there but the point still stands. By your own admission you either have to give over your personal data or commit fraud. Some choice.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Microsoft hardware

You wouldn't find this on an Apple computer, because a single company controls both the hardware and the software. Microsoft's reputation is being undermined by crap like this. They need to copy Apple and start shipping their own hardware.

You wouldn't. You would simply find that an Apple device is all but unusable if you deny it the chance to phone home with a far more comprehensive set of personal data. Sadly, the average punter doesn't seem to care.

Heads should roll over this. Literally, as in detached from the bodies that they used to be part of. It isn't going to happen, it'll be a mistake or a bug or something.

As Steve Rambam said at least ten years ago, "Privacy is dead. Get over it." You might not like it but as long as somebody else is willing to lap up this kind of shit it is an economic impossibility to avoid.

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Linux kernel dev has gone well and truly corporate – report

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Re: Snowballing

Any term widely used and understood for two decades is proper usage. Original meaning becomes irrelevant after a certain period, such is the nature of language.

But in this case it is some elements on one community - everyone else has been using it correctly for the last thirty years. Loadable module or not, drivers are still in kernel space, run in kernel mode and a single errant driver can and does take down the entire system. Even if that wasn't the case it still wouldn't qualify as a true microkernel since it still includes many systems that reside in user mode under the true microkernel model, e.g. the process scheduler.

Those elements of the Linux community misusing the term are not alone, this kind of mislabeling is quite common. The classic example is Windows' use of the term "virtual memory" to mean disk paging, which gets so deeply ingrained that people people refuse to believe you when you point out the term does not by definition refer to hard drives at all. Just like that example, a piece of hyped mislabeling does not alter the accepted definition.

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Boffins baffled by the glowing 'plumes' of MARS

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Okay, that's it....

Which joker sent the Face On Mars a pack of cigars, huh?!?

No. It's actually a million office workers following management advice given when they asked "OK, so where can we smoke now?"

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Are you ready to ditch the switchboard and move to IP telephony?

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: uh, set priority on services on the net?

it's very old hat now to set priority low for IP data, high for IP phone, and top priority for internal network management, you know. then somebody downloading 450 Mb of manuals from a vendor is not going to hammer your conference call with market analysts.

I was thinking exactly the same thing. On site you say "This VLAN is high priority" - that's CCNA stuff. Externally use MPLS and designate the appropriate LSPs as priority. In both cases the primary driver for their introduction was mixed data on a unified network.

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BBC: SOD the scientific consensus! Look OUT! MEGA TSUNAMI is coming

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: BBC says no to science

Well when the BBC allows one person, Roger Harbin, decide that scientific consensus for man made global warning is so strong, the BBC can be absolved from it's responsibility of balanced reporting, then what hope does any real science have on the channel? We can only look forward to the BBC trust backing to the hilt more sensationalist drivel like the mega tsunami, and disregarding any evidence to the contrary.

Demanding consensus is far too high a threshold for science coverage with any currency to it at all - if that is the threshold you have strictly educational programming and that is it. If consensus is required entire categories go straight out of the window. Can an informative and valuable program be made covering string theory? Of course it can, the fact that string theory is very much a work in progress and has nothing like consensus behind it should not be a bar on such a programme being commissioned.

Can the news report the findings of a peer-reviewed paper in e.g. the Lancet? If you demand consensus then no it can't - the fact that three or four academics were unable to rubbish it at review stage does not amount to consensus by itself.

Consider The Sky at Night and they are discussing some space probe. Before launch the discussion is couched in terms of "We expect..." or "We hope to see...". When the results are back it is "We think this is probably..." or "We interpret this as...". Both are mere speculation rather than reporting of the consensus. Does it mean it is not legitimate science programming? Of course not.

Far too those with a false sense of their scientific awareness have a mistaken belief in some magical threshold level of consensus, and everything outside that box is junk. That attitude itself is psuedoscience, on any particular area of progress there are different ideas with different levels of support behind them. Any new proposal lacks acceptance at first, it has to be considered and tested first and there are always counter-theories and interpretations. If you proceed from the starting position of "This has no consensus, therefore it is junk and therefore it doesn't even need to be explored" you are not promoting science but arguing for a complete cessation of scientific advancement.

I have not seen the programme in question but the BBC's arguments seem valid enough to me starting from that position. Consider the very premise of the programme - its title is not "Are we going to be killed by a mega-tsunami?" but "Could we survive a mega-tsunami?" - i.e. the emphasis in not on how likely it is to happen but on what the impact would be if it does happen. Remember that the arguments that it can't happen are themselves shaky - note the appeal to recorded (i.e. written) history which is so brief as to be meaningless in a geological context and as is acknowledged the longer geological record does indicate prior examples. Even if the tsunami couldn't possibly be triggered by this one volcano, the programme remains valid if anywhere else (possibly somewhere we know nothing about) could cause similar effects. I think that's enough on which to base a What If? scenario that doesn't tackle the contentious point head-on in any event.

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Thecus N4310 4-bay: A NAS-ty beast for the budget-conscious

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Re: Drive trays?

It's not beyond the wit of man to build drive bays that accept bare drives, and they would probably be cheaper as well as more convenient for the user.

Personally for things like this I much rather screw the drives in place. With lowish end hardware like this I've had too many bad experiences with clip in trays - they may work well enough on day one but invariably there are plastic components that are turning brittle come year five. I'd expect to run an array such as this for at least ten years (demoted to backup store towards the end) so I'd happily a moment's inconvenience for those years of extra life.

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You'll NEVER guess who has bought I Taught Taylor Swift How To Give Head dot-com

the spectacularly refined chap
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Asking for trouble...

...given that there is a virtually infinite list of provocative domain names, many on very similar themes and this will appeal to those who like to stir things up. So, ITaughtTaylorSwiftHowToGiveHead.com is taken. Did they think of e.g. ITaughtTaylorSwiftHowToSuppressTheGagReflex.com?

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This optical disc will keep your gumble safe for 2,000 YEARS

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Cost

They will be expensive to start with and not so further down the track.

I wouldn't count on it. I've been using DVD-RAM for perhaps the last ten years for archival and blank media still costs perhaps 5x similar DVD+/-RW.

When I built this new workstation I'm using now a couple of months ago I did pay over the odds for an M-DISC capable bluray drive with the single layer discs in mind, but when I looked at the cost of media I decided that I'll stick with DVD-RAM for the time being. It doesn't help that there seems to be a pitiful lack of competition at the distributor and retail level so the most attractive cost/disc prices have ridiculous shipping fees attached to them.

The savings come with volume and it seems there is little mass market interest in long term integrity - you can see some of that even here, with all the attention focusing on the potential problems of reading in centuries time, but completely failing to grasp that 99% of the archival market is more bothered with readability after perhaps 20-30 years, 50 at the outside.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: That graph...

What a load of guff! No units on the y-axis, arbitrary threshold - FAIL indeed!

In this case a failure in basic comprehension. The article explicitly specifies this is according to ISO/IEC 16963 which defines what it means for a medium to have failed when determining storage lifetimes - that is the scale. If that isn't good enough for you obviously you have much greater insight into this area than that international panel of experts who spent years considering the issue.

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Helium HDD prices rise way above air-filled spinning rust

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: HE6

He^6, not He[6]...

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RIP Windows RT: Microsoft murders ARM Surface, Nokia tablets

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: hmm

Microsoft trying to succeed outside x86 = a zebra trying to change its stripes.

Sure. MIPS, Alpha, Power, Itanium, now ARM. (Have I missed any out?) All supported at one time or another, all have fallen by the wayside. That track record is pretty damning and becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy: no one wants to adopt a new platform today that won't exist in five years time, condemning MS to continued failure away from their x86 home turf.

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'Revenge porn' law to arrive in spring – MoJ

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: reasonable person?

This is so open to abuse. As an extreme example, if you were to upload a picture of a woman without her "headscarf", there are a number of ethnic minorities that would consider that sexual.

As has already been noted I think that's stretching things a little. Juries are expected to weigh things like this according to their understanding of the broader community's values rather than their own insular views.

The problem I see is at the other end of the debatable spectrum. Take it as read the photos under consideration are of full frontal nudity. Are they covered? It's easy to give a knee-jerk answer of "yes" without considering the context or that nudity does not by itself imply sexuality.

What if this is a photo taken for medical purposes? An artistic nude? Holiday snaps on a nudist beach? None of these are overtly sexual in nature so my personal interpretation would be "no". However I can see many people would exempt the medical photos but include the others or indeed include all three sets of photos. The balance of people holding each of those interpretations is difficult to forecast in advance and will vary between juries, so you will not get a consistent interpretation of what constitutes sexual material.

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Samsung gets KINKY with new Galaxy in 50 SHADES OF GREY

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: A phone comforming to the curve of your head

If the phone is bent that way, clearly it has to be flexible, because exactly no one would want a smartphone that is bent like that all the time.

Bent like what? It is a deliberately obfuscated photo that allows you to extrapolate several possible shapes from the information available. I can see three straight away: the most literal view would be that it is doubly bent and this a straight side-on view which seems improbable and doesn't it in well with the shading.

The second is that this is an edge-on three quarters view of the side and end of a shape that angles up at one end, kind of like how some calculators angle up the display portion of the case. That fits well with the photo but I don't see why you would want that shape in a phone.

The third and my preferred interpretation is that this is a straightforward curved phone with the screen side facing downward, taken from an angle to mostly show the top or bottom end and dramatically foreshorten the long side. I can see some people wanting that and can see some practical benefits in that it would allow you to more easily reach the top and bottom of the screen with your thumb.

In any event I'm now long past the point at which this descends into idle speculation as the author was careful to avoid. My essential point is that you don't know anything about the shape from that photo.

One final point that is easily missed - if you load it up in an image editor and start distorting the brightness curve quite dramatically you do bring what appears to be an edge button into visibility below the rightward portion of the horizontal bit, at least I don't think it's a compression artifact. That doesn't tell you much by itself but it does seem to eliminate interpretations that require a face-one angle of the phone.

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Drunk on Friday night? Then YOU probably DIDN'T spot Facebook's privacy tweak

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Please, do explain

On a related note they keep using another photo, sorry don't have a link to it right now, of a woman with red-brown hair, hand up to her head on what appears to be a beach...

Found it, it's used on this article among plenty of others. I haven't been able to track down the "other" photos though.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Please, do explain

It's a woman who has just found your secret porn stash and is holding it in her hands and with that disapproving look, she doesn't look best pleased...

On a related note they keep using another photo, sorry don't have a link to it right now, of a woman with red-brown hair, hand up to her head on what appears to be a beach... it always looks strangely familiar. I tried a Google image search on it once and only found it on the stock image sites but I could swear I've seen the same model in the same location on one of the porn sites.

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Boffin finds formula for four-year-five-nines disk arrays

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Costs

Someone's making the wrong comparison. You need to look at the cost of replacing the disc versus the value of the data on the disc. I suspect the disc is tiny in value, compared to that of the data it holds.

No, that is the wrong comparison. If you have data that you can't afford to lose on one device (or even one array) that is your problem - if you have a backup of the data on a drive the value of the data on the dead one is meaningless.

However, that still isn't the point they are making. It is being taken as read that the data must be protected and in that sense your point is the very opening premise of the study. They are not arguing over whether data should be protected but the most cost effective way of assuring that.

Having said that I'm still not convinced the comparison is valid. I'll admit my experience is at the lower end of the scale, only going up to a few tens of terabytes but in my experience the cost of the drives is usually around half of even the capital cost of the array. You have semi-fixed costs such as computer smarts and software on top but the extra costs per unit are not inconsiderable, i.e. physical enclosures, controllers and power supplies, which inevitably scale with the number of drives.

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ICANN orders re-evaluation of dot-gay

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: dot-inc

What about companies that match names AND are in the same country but are allowed by the USPTO because they're in different industries?

Don't confuse trademarks with legal company names - most jurisdictions have restrictions in place that guarantee uniqueness. It's particularly noticeable when people with a common name name their companies after themselves - the approach usually used is to disambiguate with the town or occasionally sector, so the first John Smith gets John Smith Ltd, the next couple get e.g. John Smith (Manchester) Ltd and John Smith (Leeds) Ltd.

The rules for ltd.uk require the full form is used for the domain registration and set out unambiguous procedures for how they are to be converted into technically acceptable domain names without the spaces, brackets etc.

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Developers, developers, developers! But WILL they support Windows 10?

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Real programmers ...

The web script kiddies seem to forget that there a lot of software isn't targeted at a phone or a tablet but meets some industrial functional need.

No surprise there. Too often it seems that there is a sizable contingent of 14 year olds with 15 years of commercial experience here.

Whether it is Windows or Unix/Linux there are thousands of industrial applications that just work day in, day out. They just don't fit the social media meme that attracts attention today. Instead most of them do their job and make real money unlike most of the toy apps featured in the press.

Exactly. When a product may be on the market for a decade or more and need support for another 15 years after that as a minimum you take a very different perspective on these things: we have little interest in building entirely new software for devices that haven't been on sale for the last five years. Long term stability of the underlying platform is far more important than the latest shiny user-visible toys.

If you want to support developers to support your platform then support them. Look at the Unix world - if you understood the 1992 version of POSIX you'll need a bit of updating by now for e.g. threads or wide character support, but code written back then will still work with at worst minor fettling for the most part.

This is precisely where Microsoft continue to get it hopelessly wrong - entire new frameworks and paradigms are introduced every three or four years, far too frequently to keep up if you are doing actual work as opposed to playing with the latest shiny. The old stuff is left to bitrot or has the new cruft tacked on, such as how MFC was infested with the .NET stuff.

But at the end of the day, yes, of course we will have to consider Windows 10 at some point, whether that means the bare minimum to keep the old stuff working, a significant upgrade to the bare-bones Java software or simply saying, no, we're not going to cover that. A entirely new branch supporting all the fancy new features is probably the one option most likely to be quickly ruled out for pre-existing stuff, even if not for new stuff going forward.

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UK Scouts database 'flaws' raise concerns

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: "Compass is not a publicly accessible system"

Somebody probably pointing metasploit at it right now.

So it isn't publicly accessible then. Entrance to our offices is protected by swipe card and/or getting past the receptionist if she buzzes you in. That's enough for us to generally consider the place not publicly accessible, the fact that anyone on the street outside can physically wander up as far as the front door does not alter that.

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Your anonymous code contributions probably aren't: boffins

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: students

I found that laying one printout next to the other was an adequate technique!

Though, it is true that the spaces and tabs were a giveaway, when the indentation was, shall we say, merely decorative.

Those things are easily altered. I can't help but think back to my own time at Uni - the University of Manchester - where all code went into John Latham's ARCADE system that detected any plagiarism. This is over 20 years old now.

He did explain how it worked a couple of times and although he never used those terms it seemed to perform a lexical analysis first and then consider the resulting token stream. Comments, white space, variable names etc were thrown out straight away as trivially easy to alter. Instead it simply looked at a sequence "identifier, multiply, constant, terminator..." that is much more difficult to alter in a non-trivial manner since it is intrinsically linked to how the program works.

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VMware wins cool reception for two-CPU eval software

the spectacularly refined chap
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Sure, it doesn't let you play with VMware's latest toys, but it's free and does what you need it to do for a home lab.

No, it does what you need a home lab to do - there are a whole host of reasons and different requirements. Any form of virtualisation would have been fairly useless when going for my CCNA/CCNP a few years back. However, a program such as this is clearly aimed at people wanting to play with VMware specifically, not simply as a precursor to setting up something else.

"I know KVM/Xen/whatever" has only limited traction when the description for that job you are going for discusses VMware specifically as the first item in the list of requirements.

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Saudi govt pauses flogging dad-of-3 for Facebook posts – after docs intervene

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Absolute Monarchy vs Dictatorship

The government of Saudi Arabia is classified as an Absolute Monarchy, where the monarch has an absolute monopoly on power. A Dictatorship on the other hand is a form of government where political authority is monopolized by a single person. See the difference?

In order to be a dictatorship there has to be a dictator, i.e. a single figure calling all the shots. There isn't because there are two distinct power bases - government and religion. Let us not forget that the constitution is defined as the Qur'an and Sharia is the basis of law. Those are not subject to the whim of some despot. Saudi is certainly not some golden nirvana where everyone is free, I never said it was. But it is not a dictatorship.

You are not "spectacularly refined", sir. You are an ass.

Is your argument so weak that you need to resort to childish insults? You think it is right to commence military action against a foreign nation to impose your values on that population when they tell you that no, they are quite happy with current arrangements. Inevitably kill a whole load of innocent civilians in the process? What is the difference now that they are subject to the whim of your will as opposed to the previous guys?

If you really believe in democracy (as opposed to using it as a politically acceptable cover for what is basically thuggish behaviour as the West has so often engaged in the past) there is a single inescapable truth: it is not our war to fight. If the Saudis want change let them achieve it for themselves, and in the direction they want rather than what we think best. You do not force it upon them and tell them to be grateful. That argument is far worse than being an ass, it is outright dangerous and a threat to the liberty of people everywhere.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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The sooner the western world removes our reliance on oil, the sooner we could stop pussyfooting around and do something concrete about these dictatorships.

But the Saudi justice system does have a great degree of domestic popular support - don't make the mistake of ignoring the cultural differences. This is a different culture in an entirely different environment, facing different issues and based on a different religion and different values: it shouldn't be a huge surprise that the Saudis view things differently.

In attacking the Saudi government as a "dictatorship" (it isn't) and advocating intervention to "do something concrete" (presumably military action) you fall into the trap of faux democracy, i.e. not that the people can have any government they like, but that they can have any government that we approve of. That is a fundamentally undemocratic sham.

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Amazon's tax deal in Luxembourg BROKE the LAW, says EU

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: No. PR is the special olympics of electoral systems - you get elected just for turning up.

How dare you use the phrase "special olympics" as a derogatory term with the implication that paralympians get medals just for turning up.

Why would Paralympians turn up at the Special Olympics?

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Silicon Valley WAGE-FIX: Tech firms mull new deal to kill staff lawsuit

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: No settlement, EVER....

Giving 10% of annual revenue to said employees is ridiculous.

Of course it is. It the usual knee jerk extremist measure often espoused by certain sections here. It has nothing to do with any sense of justice at all.

These are huge multinational companies and this is a fairly peripheral issue when assessed against their sheer scale. It is an inevitability that companies of that size will be found wanting from time to time. Putting such huge penalties on matters of this scale does not benefit anyone in the long term.

So these companies colluded to not actively head hunt each others employees? Outrageous! Find them 10% of turnover! There was an industrial accident causing some limited and localised environmental damage? Disgusting! 10% of turnover! Two employees made a misleading sales pitch without management knowledge or involvement? Despicable! 10% of turnover! There was a balls up in accountancy and incorrect financial data was published? You get the idea.

These affected employees then end up with nothing - no payout and no job because the companies have collapsed. And no, they can't find find work elsewhere because every other company of any size has collapsed too. How are they benefited exactly? This is precisely what you are advocating, simply because you have let bloody minded vindictiveness cloud any sense of justice or proportion.

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No, the Linux leap second bug WON'T crash the web

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Time delay

Airline systems worldwide use GMT (aka UTC or Zulu) time as a standard reference time.

GMT and UTC are two distinct time zones...

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Why has the Russian economy plunged SO SUDDENLY into the toilet?

the spectacularly refined chap
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In the mean time, rouble regained 30% against dollar, raising from 67 to 52. The prophesies of doom continued unabated on both sides.

Never heard of the dead cat bounce? There are always brief resurgences in crises such as this, both people hoping to exploit short term term volatility and looking to unroll previous short positions. This article is considering what will happen in the medium to long term - next year or next decade - based on long term factors that are unlikely to change at the drop of a hat.

You counter that by looking merely at the last week whilst simultaneously ignoring the rest of the preceding month.

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Frustration with Elite:Dangerous boils over into 'Refund Quest'

the spectacularly refined chap
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Ah, the joys of First World Problems (c)

But a bait-and-switch goes back centuries and exists the world over.

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Careful - your helmet might get squashed by a VOLVO

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: What a stupid fucking idea....

GET SOME FUCKING LIGHTS

The fucking lights are there and there. They are substantially brighter than the legal minimum. If you can't see them then you shouldn't be on the road. Yes, I have had this very conversation before.

Remember, it is your job to make sure the road ahead is clear. Sure, the cyclist should have lights on but even if he doesn't case law is clear that you are still at fault if you hit him.

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'Critical' security bugs dating back to 1987 found in X Window

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: No worries...

I'm always wary of stories of how much some people claim to be involved with computers in the early to mid 80's, most of these stories are BS...

What, you mean such as claiming to have installed Mosaic in 1989, a full four years before it was released? Your dates are well off. Home computers were commonplace by 1987 although admittedly it's before the PC became the default option - its four or five years after the Spectrum/BBC/C64 and around the time the Amiga and ST were beginning to gain traction. An yes, AutoCAD certainly did exist and when I first encountered it only three years later it was even fairly mature for 2D at least. Of course draughting boards were still around - they still are. An architect friend of mine still does most work on paper for the simple reason that the effort needed to redraw existing plans electronically negates any advantage of computerisation when modifying an existing building.

If no one you know used one for work at that point that says something about the people you know, not the state of the technology. Computers were around and in common use significantly earlier than you claim.

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US govt tells ICANN: No accountability, no keys to the internet

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: Is ICANN even needed ?

IPv6 has so many addresses that assigning a 2^64 address space to each country (over 4000000000 times the size of the total IPv4 address space) would barely touch the total. These assignments would be permanent. If new countries are formed then a new 2^64 address space would be allocated to the new country.

An IPv6 subnet is generally a /64, at least when point to point links are discounted. You would have to jump through hoops to use anything smaller with ethernet. My home network currently uses four times the address space you propose allocating an entire country.

You wouldn't be a politician by any chance, would you? The way you advocate public policies based on what is clearly complete ignorance of current practice or any technical considerations certainly seems very familiar.

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Jacking up firearms fees will cost SMEs £3.5 MILLION. Thanks, Plod

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: No sympathy

Since what the plods currently get to charge for processing a firearms certificate is much less than what it actually **costs** them to process it, the public is subsidising gun-owners. Who generally tend to be people like the landed gentry and others who are far better-off than most of us.

So perhaps it's no bad thing that they should actually have to pay enough so that we don't have to feather-bed them?

You're missing the central point - who is the licensing regime designed to benefit? It isn't for the gun owner for whom it is an administrative burden and adds significant costs, not just in terms of the licence application but associated costs for e.g. secure storage as mandated by law and inspected as part of the approvals process. Focusing on one small element (the toffs) and extrapolating an entire emotive argument from that single misrepresentation adds no credibility at all.

There are many reasons to own a gun, the various forms of leisure pursuit amongst them but also occupational reasons as highlighted in the article such as vets. If you accept some people need guns but equally don't want any undesirable miscreant to have one when they are unable to demonstrate any lawful use you need a system of licensing. Those licences exist to protect the public rather than benefit the individual gun owner and the system works - if somebody ambushes you in the street and demands your wallet when you consider your options the possibility that they might be packing heat doesn't register if you have any sense of rationality.

So the licensing system becomes not a matter of individual entitlement but a public policy for public protection. The entire purpose of the police is the protection of the public. They don't charge you several thousand pounds for investigation if you happen to be burgled, even though that is first and foremost for your own benefit. Why then should they expect to recover their costs if you want to own a gun, for an administrative process that primarily protects the wider community?

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UK computing museum starts reboot of 65-year-old EDSAC

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: "EDSAC ran at 500kHz"

"EDSAC ran at 500kHz"

Are you sure about that? Seems improbably high to me.

Yes, it really was that fast in terms of clock speed at least: the comparison with most later machines isn't really valid, since EDSAC was a serial machine working one bit at a time rather than in entire words. As a result each instruction took several hundred clocks to execute.

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Mighty Blighty broadbanders beg: Let us lay cable in BT's, er, ducts

the spectacularly refined chap
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I'd be happy if the other companies would use the ducts they're entitled to

The housing estate I live on is a little over 30 years old now and has under-pavement ducts from when it was originally built. However some deal was done at that point that gave BT 10 years exclusive use over them so when VM's precursor was installing cable around the neighbourhood they saw the covenant was about to expire and understandably said "No, we won't dig up your pavements, we'll be back in a couple of years to cable you up."

Of course, they never did and VM have absolutely zero interest in installing now: it seems they are far more interested in milking their existing network than extending it even given existing undertakings to do so. The result is that our street and the one next to it are the only ones within half a mile that can't get cable. Even going out to a one or two mile radius to the best of my knowledge it's only us and a couple of minor country roads with next to no housing on them.

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What should America turn to for web advice? That's right: GOV.UK – says ex-Obama IT guru

the spectacularly refined chap
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Re: This is the example an "ex-Obama IT guru" recommends for the US?

Brilliant? She produced this – a genuine example to follow.?

legislation.gov.uk is certainly one of the more information-rich government sites but given it's importance I'd say it is still short of the context that could reasonably be expected of it. I appreciate that you do not want to surround official documents that have the force of law with too much editorialising, but if you ever try to refer to legislation for the kind of issue I raised above you quickly see the shortcomings.

Locating the primary legislation that introduces for example a given tax or benefit is generally easy enough - even if the tax or benefit is not mentioned in the title of the act determining the correct one is usually a matter of a quick Google or even looking at Wikipedia. However, the acts are generally very pithy and lacking in a lot of low level detail. Towards the end of each act you'll see a paragraph starting "Regulations may:" followed by a long list of things that can be set in secondary legislation. It's in those where a lot of the fine print actually resides. In some cases it might be a mundane matter such as specifying which form needs to be completed but in others it might set a rate or tax or set a income threshold that is described but not set in the primary legislation.

However, although regulations, statutory instruments and so on are also up on the site locating them is frequently difficult and simple title searches are often not revealing. Since any regulations will themselves detail which piece(s) of legislation they are enabled by it would be a fairly simple matter to add another index to the site so that for each act you see another section along the lines of "These are the regulations in force enabled by this act:... and these are the former regulations that have since been repealed:..."

That wouldn't be a huge amount of work but at a stroke it would make the site a lot more usable. This isn't just for resolving problems or dispute - I would argue that that site in particular needs to be easy to navigate given its importance for political debate, and indeed since ignorance of the law is no excuse everyone is effectively expected to be fully aware of it.

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the spectacularly refined chap
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"the message was so full of lengthy legalese that many people couldn't understand it and so were kicked off the program"

Which was probably the point.

Personally that's my main criticism of the gov.uk site - the detailed legalese isn't there, all you have is executive summaries that simply don't allow you to make any definite determinations of your own. Before they started to centralise everything if you had an issue with e.g. your tax you went to the HMRC site. There you could find the usual public information leaflets for the issue in question but critically they also linked directly to the appropriate legislation and regulations as well as the technical and procedural manuals used by the staff administering whatever it is.

If you had any kind of issue you could easily look up the exact rules, not just for the common stuff affecting most people but also the niche provisions covering particular circumstances or professions that affect tiny numbers of people. You could then see if it had been handled correctly or not and in the event of error you have some authoritative ammo to take to them to get the issue sorted out.

Gov.uk is completely hopeless for that kind of detailed study, so you either need to take what you are told at face value or you have a lot more work finding out what the precise rules are.

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Lights OUT for Philae BUT slumbering probot could phone home again as comet nears Sun

the spectacularly refined chap
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It's a shame it didn't have a small nuclear battery on board like the Mars rovers.

It's the perennial ignorant refrain whenever a probe like this dies. Philae has already done 80% of everything asked of it: it has to be considered a success. RTGs are are not magical silver bullets but bring their own issues. Do you really think no one on the project even briefly considered one before opting against it? Of course not, it's just they know enough to be able to properly evaluate the pros and cons:

RTGs kick out a lot of heat. Do you really want that heat constantly heating the same area of a body believed to be mostly ice?

RTGs are hugely expensive. If the budget had extended to including one then it would also have extended to including a second unmodified lander. Which would get more science done? If you evaluate the risks and determine that it can probably be powered by solar cells why go to that expense in the first place? The solar power gamble didn't pay off in this instance but that doesn't make it a bad decision.

Only a comparatively small number of isotopes are useful and they are all synthesised and in short supply. No one is making Pu-238, the isotope of choice, anymore and stockpiles of it are rapidly depleting. Even the US lacks all it needs for its Europa mission - they were hoping to source the extra from Russian stockpiles, but that is especially problematic now with the tensions over Ukraine.

Put it another way: which outer solar system mission would you rather was abandoned completely so that this mission might be able to get a small amount of additional science done? If you can't answer that the demand for an RTG is not based in reality.

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