1199 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 13:31 GMT
Re: So why aren't terrorists...
...because the "dirty bomb" just isn't practical, and this ain't fissile material, so you can make a nuclear bomb.
Think about it... would you be more scared by pictures of people with missing limbs or of pictures of uninjured people with an elevated risk of cancer in 10-20 years time? Which is the better press for the morally bankrupt crusader?
Deus IN machina! Deus IN machina!
The sonic screwdriver is not deus ex machina at all, it is deus in machina. Deus ex machina requires a previously unmentioned outside force to affect the course of events, but the sonic screwdriver is an established element of the Doctor Who story universe, therefore it is not an outside force by any stretch of the imagination.
Stargate Jack O'Neill was a hardnosed military man. Stargate SG1 Jack O'Neill was just a rehash of MacGuyver, Richard Dean Anderson's biggest role prior to SG1. It would be easier to tie MacGuyver to Doctor Who, as he was relatively brainy and resourceful whereas O'Neill was just an overpromoted grunt, but even then, you'd be pushing it.
Re: There's a difference
"To clarify this , in the UK TV programs go into public domain on January 1st following the 50th year since first broadcast."
Aside from the rights to the remasters, you're ignoring that the scriptwriter's copyright subsists until 70 years after death, as do all composer's mechanical rights for the music.
So you still need the BBC's permission anyway.
Experts like Rosetta Stone?!?
I'm assuming the advice from Rosetta Stone would be how to successfully market your substandard dross and achieve a ridiculously high price for it. It definitely won't be advice on how to learn languages successfully....
If I was to tell you I was going to keep "animals" on my land, would you worry about being eaten? No, cos you know it'll be cows or sheep. Or pigs, at worst, but they'll only eat you if you're already dead.
Everything in nature has a natural diet, so you pick the phages for which "food" means something that is undesirable to humans ("bad bacteria").
Re: Well all except Russia
There's evidence that plasmid transfer is much rarer than previously thought, and that the genepool is simply thinning to make certain strains of a given bacteria prevalent.
The intuitive explanation for this theory starts with the observation that all current antibiotics are naturally occuring, and have been on the planet (in fungi, mainly) since long before we climbed down from the trees, so the variety in naturally occuring antibiotics most likely reflects a variety in naturally occuring bacteria.
The guys proposing this theory point to high levels of similarity in the bacteria's germlines, suggesting common descent rather than genetic transfer.
Re: Bang the car, short the battery
"Intrigued as to what this wonder material is, if it somehow makes batteries which are lighter than the alternatives, i.e. better energy density, all they need to do is locate it in a sensible place."
It's not really a wonder material at all -- it's just a slightly better implementation of known technology.
Capacitors have always been better than batteries in terms of charging time, storage efficiency and even energy density, but the big problem is that while chemical cells rely storage capacity is determined by volume, capacitors function on the surface area of two conductive plates facing each other. 3D volumes are optimised by approximating cubes, which gives nice manageable units that fit into cars. But a high-capacity capacitor is easiest to make in a big long slice, which isn't too handy under the bonnet. The bodywork is already made of big long slices, so it fits in efficiently. Just a shame about the potential for damage in any sort of collision.
Others are researching using crystals to "grow" the plates into interlocking 3D structures, increasing the surface area with a 3D space rather than a 2D plane. That would revolutionise not only electric vehicle technology, but also UPS systems on all sorts of scales. It would even shrink a lot of electricity substations, as capacitors are used to smoothe out fluctuations in the supply to prevent electrical damage in both the substation and the home.
I'm surprised that it's opaque materials in use. I would have thought the best answer would be a couple of layers of transparent material with appropriate refractive indices to allow light in but reflect any light that attempts to escape back into the cell.
" although the works of art that express an person’s opinions and ideas about other people will not be approached in the same way by a court as say, an assertion in a news article. "
So why don't you simply redesignate The Register as a piece of literary contemporary art and protect yourself from all further defamation/libel actions?
I mean seriously, am I allowed to satirise violence by punching someone? So why should anyone be able to satirise vigilante snap-sites with a vigilante snap-site?
Re: Do they know what ''science'' means ?
Ah, but Alain, didn't you see that word "hypothesis"? Hypotheses are 50% of all science. So economics is science... if you ignore that other 50% that we call "evidence".
So Tim, how can you "bork" or "put the kibosh" on stuff with unproven assertions, which is all an untestable hypothesis ever is?
And what about the rise in microsecond-scale trades we're seeing? Preprogrammed insider information or very reactive algorithms? It doesn't matter -- either way, you can hardly argue that this is an open and equitable system.
Re: There is a world of difference between a review of a film...
I stopped reading halfway, which is probably too late as that'll be half the story and the half the best jokes gone.
Poor show, El Reg.
You can't be a "mouthpiece" and simultaneously "independent". The mouth is controlled by the brain -- the whole point of the metaphor is that it suggests it's just parroting what it's told to do. Heck, the earliest attestations I know of "mouthpiece" in press sense are for publications such as Pravda -- the Soviet Union's state controlled propaganda newspaper (and a pioneer in the use of what the internet now calls "infographics", but that's by-the-bye).
I'm not a fan of NNS, as it pads out its fairly meager measure of journalism with far too much overopinionated blogging, so I'm not surprised to hear that they're taking a bunker mentality and rejecting all dissent.
Regardless, the term "mouthpiece" doesn't just peg NNS as being party-political, but actually attributes their flaky journalistic standards and general shoddiness to the SNP, which isn't true. If the EDL declared their support for a particular political party, it would be wrong to call them the Tory/Labour/LidDem/UKIP/BNP strongarm, wouldn't it? It would be a smear on the party. This is no different.
Internet access and education
The internet has been a major part of future planning for improving access to education. Not only is the Open University steadily advancing on the path to all-online, but the University of the Highlands and Islands (the local university to most people affected by the issues in the article) is looking to head in the same direction.
So for well over a decade they've been telling us that soon you won't have to move to where your university is in order to study. This is now true, but only in the sense that you don't have to move to where your particular university is, because you're still going to have to within short commuting distance of a university to get any sort of broadband. Hell, I'm only a 20 minute drive from Stirling University, and the best available connection here isn't even enough to get a full-quality video call on Skype.
...except that in the courts, an "appeal" is always against a ruling.
"...according to a website called NewsNet Scotland, which, in this hack's humble opinion, is a bit of a Scottish Nationalist Party mouthpiece."
You're a journalist -- how about some actual journalism instead of just opinion? The site has 1 editor and 5 regular contributors, so it should be pretty easy to check their political affiliations, if you want to.
Yes, it's a nationalist (small n) site, but that hardly makes it a "SNP mouthpiece", any more than any site with a pro-market leaning is a "Tory mouthpiece", or any Europhobic website a "UKIP mouthpiece".
It's a smear - a personal, biased attack - and it's unbefitting of El Reg.
Re: Joining EU ?
If you recall, during the first major eastern European accession to the EU (Poland et al), the UK was one of the few countries not to have restrictions on immigration, and by the time Romania joined, we'd joined with the rest of the EU on it.
Free movement of labour is not strictly guaranteed for new member states. IIRC, this restricted movement can last up to 5 years from the beginning of membership -- the idea being that this gives the country's economy time to improve, reducing impetus for migration.
" ICT is arguably more important in that a very high percentage of jobs will use ICT skills, so it should be taught to everyone."
By that token:
* schools shouldn't be teaching basic mathematics to all pupils beyond that which is necessary to operate a MacDonald's cash register;
* art lessons should consist of identifying the font impact on your computer, and using it to write a meaningless phrase on pictures of kittehz;
* music lessons should teach only the skills necessary to select an appropriate playlist for a birthday party, wedding or road trip
* no more "creative writing" in English lessons -- how many of us would ever get a publishing deal anyway?
Logical thought? Define "logic"...
Why is we always talk of computers in terms of "logical thought"? Computers are built out of logic gates, but in operation these gates function neither in the modes of mathematical logic (whether predicate logic or sequent logic) nor in a way that mirrors human thought.
The basic paradigm in computing isn't Prolog-style logic programming, but declarative programming.
Declarative programming teaches far more generalisable skills than logic anyway. It teaches clarity of expression and it teaches to consider all the side-effects and consequences of your actions.
Declarative programming doesn't teach "logical thought", but rather process thinking, a skill required not only for programming, but for almost every field of human endeavour, encompassing all engineering disciplines, transport and logistics, corporate planning, politics and even war.
I cannot tell you how many corporate policies I've seen handed down from the Management "Science" grads upstairs that failed the tests of clarity and unintended consequence, when any of us trained programmers on the factory floor could have "debugged" the policy in half an hour....
Re: not quite
What do you mean, "no"? Your argument is based entirely on the Wikipedia definition of "editor", whereas the Register is using the term "editor" as defined by the publishing/press industry. Of which they are a part.
Re: They don't look <b>that</b> similar
But they've both got moustaches that wouldn't look out of place in a period drama. OK, so PC Thomas would have to be in an 80s period drama, whereas PC Lego would be more Dickensian London, which means they're really very different, but reality must bend when newspapers seek to write puff pieces.
Re: we were there first
There's a problem, though: the single-container construction means you won't be able to start batch n+1 until you've finished batch n, leaving a 7-day gap in the beer supply. Disaster!
Re: push button beer, not
Years ago I saw a big copper microcontroller-powered hombrew kettle that was built around a one-vat process, that would allegedly do everything. There was the option to draw off the wort to do a keg fermentation so that you could get another brew going.
So I'm curious as to how this qualifies as something really new.
On the other hand, if they have genuinely managed to implement a perfectly repeatable process, then we might see similar technology (on a slightly larger scale, naturally) slowly penetrating into smaller pubs -- a supply of fresh, additive-free beer might go down quite nicely....
Re: Dan1980’s frothy skinny latte
"So you would you like capital punishment? Effectively you are suggesting some low level employee be shot for what is essentially a ‘domestic’?"
I thought he was rather clear on this, so stop trolling.
No action has been taken against any of these ex-employees, as they all resigned before internal action could be taken. But what they did was a criminal act, as defined by US laws. Why haven't they been put before a jury to answer charges of wiretapping?
To be fair, if you're a secret agent and someone with a foreign accent shows interest in you, you have legitimate cause for paranoia -- outside of MAD Magazine, a lot of Spy vs Spy is about making love, not war...
Re: "Exploiting Similarities among Languages for Machine Translation"
"No indefinite article, no words for "yes" and "no" as such, no present tenses apart from the two verbs for "to be", no verb "to have","
The technique is for guessing at translations of unknown vocabulary. Normally when natural language processing guys talk about vocabulary, they're talking about words with an independent and relatively unambiguous meaning -- so-called "lexical words", eg "cat", "hamburger", "galactic". The other class of words is called "function words", and these are the grammatical glue that has next-to-no meaning outside of its context -- eg "me", "now", "would" etc. Within natural language processing, these are often not even considered "words" because they follow directly from grammatical rules, and there is very little choice when using them.
These "function words" also form a closed set -- consider the number of pronouns in any given language with the number of common nouns. It is therefore efficient to deal with these more explicitly than lexical words, and even if you're doing pure statistical translation, all of the function words in a language are likely to turn up in your training data (and if not, you've not got enough data) -- and therefore these things are therefore not going to be "unknown vocabulary", so not applicable to this technique anyhow.
To use an example of how vectors would work to translate between very different structures, consider disease.
Say the software knows how to translate "I am hungry" to Gaelic, but doesn't know how to translate the word "thirsty" from English to Gaelic.
I am hungry -- tha an t-acras oirm (lit. is the hunger on_me)
However, the system does know that the only difference between "hungry" and "thirsty" is that "hungry" is about food and "thirsty" is about drink, so the software can generate a vector (-food, +drink) that given "hungry" as its input/starting point will give "thirsty" as its output/endpoint.
Now that same vector will of course also go from "hunger" to "thirst", so it doesn't matter that the Gaelic equivalent of the phrase uses a noun instead of an adjective.
Very clever stuff.
"I wonder if this would help interpret written material in extinct languages where we have a few known words? Though there might not be a big enough data set."
This stuff, along with existing Google Translate technology, relies on a massive monolingual dataset as well as a smaller bilingual one. We don't have enough data.
Pretty obscure reference, to be fair. I got what they mean by the example "king - man + woman = queen", whereas the silly "graphs" were more confusing than anything.
A vector, by the definition, is simply a move through n-dimensional space.
The mind-twister here is that the "dimensionality" of a word is kind of arbitrary, because the component parts of the meaning change from word to word.
The example used of "king" (or "queen") tells us not only gender, but also the importance of the person, the nature of the constitution of the place.
The weirdest thing about vectors in a lot of AI applications is that they've mostly abandoned the idea of axes -- notice that the vector has to subtract "man" as well as adding "woman", because the system doesn't recognise the existence of a gender "axis".
Instead, we have a selection of "features" that are measurable only in terms of presence or absence.
Re: These midichloridians are resistant to multiple antibiotics!
Medieval magic? There's very little of that. A few understated psychic techniques based more on eastern mythology than medieval Europe, plus an old man with electric hands.
"You really think a thief is going to cut off a finger?"
Does your car have a fingerprint reader? No? There's a reason they stopped installing them...
If your person appears out of scale with the gameworld, just chant "Fee fie fou fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman" as you stomp around....
Am I the only one who thinks cel shading is a waste of processor cycles? The bold colours only serve to exaggerate the polygon artifacts and lack of true curves... and surely we now have enough oomph in our silicon to process curves, particularly low-fi cartoony curves...?
Re: Let me get this straight...
Yup. Playing Paradroid on my C64 emulator and Elite on my BBC emulator really is still fun, almost 30 years on. And no-one gets a penny out of me for all that replaying.
Not a hugely common name that... any chance he's related to Andrew Braybrook of Graftgold, creator of some of the cleverest games of the 80s?
Panspermia is an interesting theory, and there are very few genuine thinkers who dismiss it out of hand, but the claims here are ridiculous. If panspermia occurred, it would most likely have been a freak event, a one-in-a-million-billion-trillion.
However, these guys claim that they sent a balloon up at random and caught a dead plant that must have fallen in from space in the previous week, which (given the volume of the upper atmosphere vs the volume of their sample) would imply that the Earth's undergoing a constant hailstorm of alien micro-flora, which would have to have been detected by now -- scientists would have noticed if falling sealife was contaminating the DNA samples they were collecting in mountainous regions.
Speaking of sealife, surely water-bourne life is incredibly poorly adapted to crossing the vast emptiness of space...?!?
If you think people moan about delays on Ryanair, just see how they would react to budget airships -- fog, heavy rain, even just a stiff breeze and you'll be seeing delays rack up. "On time" would be a very rare occurence indeed....
@Don Jefe Re: Rigid Airships have a place
I don't think an airship's a good option for precision lifting due to its poor stability in even slightly breezy conditions. Airships are really only any good for the haulage side of things, where they're competing with your barges, not the helicopters.
Most industrial installations need large water supplies, so barges are normally reliable for plant & materials delivery. There's a reason airships are being touted for very specific purposes, such as oil drilling -- most other uses are always going to be close to existing infrastructure.
"When we say explode here, we really mean violently burst."
...which is one of the dictionary definitions of "explode". Your point, caller?
Re: Ee, when I were't lad
T' Lad, was he a Yorkshire Timelord? Cos "when I were the lad" wouldn't make any sense. "A lad" yes, "the lad," no.
Deus ex machina? Nope...
Actually, the sonic screwdriver doesn't classify as deus ex machina, but rather deus in machina. This is because the "god" is not introduced at the point of crisis from outside the universe, but is in fact an established part of the story mythos - in Dr Who, we already know that the sonic screwdriver can do pretty much anything.
Deus in machina is the driving force in (eg) the Odyssey and many of the most memorable Greek epics, and in particular their Holywood adaptations, which tended to include scenes from Mount Olympus.
More modern deus in machina would include early Superman stories, where he'd suddenly have just the right power to defeat the latest threat, or Adam West era Batman's utility belt, which could always br relied on to contain just the right gadget to save his skin.
Note that James Bond and Knight Rider don't classify as deus in machina, because the previously-unheard-of gadget would be introduced by Q or Devon well in advance of the moment of crisis.
The Doctor can't be Davros -- the Daleks were designed to fight for genetic purity based on Kaled DNA. The Doctors timelord DNA makes him a valid target, and a Dr Davros would have been one of the first against the wall on Skaro.
The thumbnail pic...
Your thumbnail pic looks more like a trilby than a fedora... the brim's quite narrow...
@Idocrase Re: Spitfires
" But if ANY aircraft could stand up to Daleks, then you better f*cking BELIEVE it would be spitfires! "
Oh yeah, rule Britannia, Britannia rules the skies, God bless the queen and her Spitfire! Funny how everyone bought into that myth. Spitfires were not that great. Among other things, their limited flight ceiling made it difficult to engage safely with a Messerschmidt, and the metal fuselage offered very little value as armour, but meant that most of the fleet was grounded for repair at any given time.
It was the much larger fleet of canvas-clad Hawker Hurricanes, patched up and sent back into the air before the paint had dried, and engaging the enemy from above that got us through it.
A lot of people will be looking forward to the first episode, though. I have to say, I'm more excited about that than the new one!
Re: Getting boring...
I won't accept BAA. It was an effective monopoly and was making my crisps and sandwiches artificially expensive when I waited for my price-inflated flights. I'm glad they've been broken up.
@ Pete 2... Re: The code-ring on the golf course
"But so what if they *do* keep everything, indefinitely.2
Most intel is time critical. However, one of the best ways to get time critical information is by an informant. One of the best ways to "turn" a potential informant has traditionally been blackmail. To blackmail a mark, you sift through their history, looking for some potential snifter of scandal -- in days gone by, sexual indiscretion was enough, and if it was man-on-man, so much the better... threaten to out a fine upstanding citizen for what was then considered a crime and socially unacceptable behaviour and he'd spill any and all beans you asked for. In those days, getting the evidence for the blackmail was an operation in itself, and often required active "honeypot" agents in the infidelity. But if you've got the mark's life history on disk, you'll find something if you dig hard enough.
So what, I hear you cry, it's for the bad guys.
Well, no. You don't have to be a "bad guy" to be the informant... you may simply work alongside the bad guy, or you may just be his window cleaner. And that "bad guy" might actually be the goodie, and you might be forced to betray him in order to stop that picture being posted on the website of your local primary school....
Re: 4K is old hat
16K? You're havin' a laugh. You need to get the 48K model to play Manic Miner....
Never split the market!
If they did that (or added a seconf thumbstick, as others suggest) they'd suddenly have two distinct platforms, and developers wouldn't much like it.
They'd also screw up hardware sales and confuse the issue of which system is the "top spec" one. Making the budget device more appealing than the full-price one would be crazy.
Null percentages points
"Which figure would you prefer to trumpet to your investors, an actual market share growth of 0.5 per cent, or a growth rate of 100 per cent?"
Well that first figure is incorrect anyway. That's half a percentage point, which is very different from half a per cent...
- It's true, the START MENU is coming BACK to Windows 8, hiss sources
- How UK air traffic control system was caught asleep on the job
- Pic NASA Mars tank Curiosity rolls on old WET PATCH, sighs, sniffs for life signs
- Google embiggens its fat vid pipe Chromecast with TEN new supported apps
- Microsoft: Don't listen to 4chan ... especially the bit about bricking Xbox Ones