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* Posts by The Indomitable Gall

1217 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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Plan 9 moves out from Lucent licence space

The Indomitable Gall

Re: how would this go on phablets ?

@DougS,

" If you add everything it needs to be used on a modern mobile device, it will no longer be minimal and lightweight when compared to Unix. "

Not necessarily. A lot of the cruft and bloat in modern operating systems is legacy material that can't be removed due to backward compatibility issues, or simply for fear of unintended consequences. Building direct from "back then" to "now" while skipping all the in-between stuff should result in a lighter, quicker OS that modern *n*x variants.

That said, it still wouldn't be worth the bother. Some people might find it useful for embedded work, but it's not going to set the world alight....

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Trials of 'Iron Man' military exoskeleton due in June

The Indomitable Gall

First practical market:

Mike Brown:

"Without a very effecient, and small battery these suits are going to very limited in range: the length of the power cord."

This is why the only market I can think of for the initial units is for steadicam operators. A full steadicam rig typically weighs around 50kg, and I've seen steadicam operators who don't weigh much more than that to start with. A lot of the time the cameras will be on an umbilical anyway rather than battery power, so the power lead won't be an extra burden if it's bound into the same "snake" as the camera power and signal cables.

By increasing the weight capacity of the operator, they'll be able to use heavier cameras still, and I'm sure you all know what that means.... Yep, that's right: seasickness-inducing stereoscopic steadicam 3D!!!!

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Minecraft developer kills Kickstarted Minecraft movie

The Indomitable Gall

Re: IP, you say...?

So making a full-length Star Trek fan movie is, well, fans dicking around not-for-profit, but a machinima/live-action hybrid set in a universe that has no story of its own is piracy on the high seas?

There are Star Trek fan movies out there with the blessing of the copyright holders, and these are alright, because they have the permission. There are parodies that exist under the US provisions that protect parody, so these are alright. If they weren't alright, they wouldn't be there, because those guys have lawyers like you wouldn't believe.

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Gamers in a flap as Vietnamese dev pulls Flappy Bird

The Indomitable Gall

Yaks?

Last I heard he kept sheep and llamas on his plot of land in Wales, but no yaks.

(Actually, I recall being told that yaks can't survive at low altitudes because the air pressure would kill them... I wonder if this is an urban myth...

...google...

Wikipedia says they "do not thrive at lower altitudes", so it's not instantly fatal, but also that they begin to suffer heat exhaustion at 15 degrees Celsius.)

(Goddammit... I need to get a job.)

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The Indomitable Gall

Re: Flappy bird in Blender

"Nobody will begrudge a small developer hitting it big."

Welcome to the internet -- you're new round here aren't you...?

Heck, welcome, intergalactic traveller, to the Planet Earth. May I introduce you to the dominant species on this planet, "humanity"?

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HARD ONES: Three new PC games that are BLOODY DIFFICULT

The Indomitable Gall

Re: It's not the 80s, and things have moved on.

Horses for courses, pal.

Restrictions on game mechanics have knock-on effects in level design, and as long as the two are considered in parallel and feed into each other, there's no problem.

The most valid way to complete a game is by learning and mastering the game mechanics. If you have no save points, à la 80s and 90s gaming, that means there will be a lot of replaying to be done. If you replay, you will be constantly improving your base skill level before hitting the new stuff, so the game difficulty can ramp up pretty quickly.

If, however, you never need to replay a completed section, the next section can't really assume you've mastered the mechanic, and you're forced to make the next level only very slightly harder. This means you've got to write more content to get the same overall learning curve and final mastery level for the game. However, it also risks the designers slipping into "very obvious" mode for a lot of the levels, where the solution to the next difficult bit relies directly on the new trick that you've just picked up.

If you add a save option into a well designed game that had no saves, the game will become boring. If you take the save games out of a well designed game with savegames, the game will become boring.

The two things are different.

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Look out, Earth! Here comes China Operating System (aka Linux)

The Indomitable Gall

Re: What a bunch of wimps.

Maybe they just forked an alpha version of the Ubuntu Touch codebase? Legally, there's nothing stopping them (GPL and all that).

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The Indomitable Gall

Re: Under the GPL

"The definition of "Enough work to exempt it from the GPL" is "Enough for it to constitute an entirely new work in its own right, aot a derivative work based on an existing copyrighted work".

Funnily enough, nobody seems to have any problem with this concept when dealing with old-fashioned, closed copyrights (the kind which the GPL specifically forbids you to apply to derivative works of GPLed works)."

A headache that's yet to be resolved....

Cos after all, when a GPL project discovers they're carrying code that ísn't GPL compatible, they "rewrite" the code -- no cleanroom, just "delete code and add something that does exactly the same thing" -- and then they tell us that it's not a derivative work of the very same code that they were directly recreating....

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The Indomitable Gall

Real communists...

Real communists use BSD.

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Fanbois, prepare to lose your sh*t as BRUSSELS KILLS IPHONE dock

The Indomitable Gall

Re: Give some credit where it is deue

@AC

" That is bloody weird, I know plenty of people married to a non-EU citizen, and they have no problems getting a Visa for the UK, last I checked its EU law they have to grant her access unless there is a valid reason to refuse.... "

You've not been reading the newspapers -- the Home Office have been refusing residency left, right and centre, even to people who have been resident, married and working in the UK for years. Poster examples include the Australian NHS mental health worker who was kicked out, and the US man who was the sole teacher in a Scottish rural school, as well as the sole carer for his critically ill wife, and was told where to go.

The thing about EU law is that it often only determines how you treat people from other member states. So the UK has to grant access to a foreigner who has gained EU residency in another state, but it doesn't have to grant UK residency (and hence EU residency) to anyone directly.

So lots of British people are now emigrating for a year to get an EU-registered marriage to their non-EU significant others, so that they can come home.

Immigration laws in the UK are really the pits.

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The Indomitable Gall

Re: Give some credit where it is deue [sic]

@Joe Gurman

" It just seems strange to this liberal (by US standards) that a government thinks its citizens can't be trusted to buy what they want "

What I want isn't available.

I went a long time without a tablet, because Android couldn't do real-time audio processing like iOS can, but the iPad isn't compatible with my plethora of charging devices, or my case full of SD cards. (I have all sorts of cameras and audio gadgets in my drawers).

I individually do not have the power to change that.

So you'll say we need collective buyer power... and you know what? That's what government is supposed to be -- collective power.

" and note this is an economic issue (presumably less expensive micro-USB vs. more expensive proprietary connectors), not a safety one, as there's ample anecdotal evidence of people being incinerated by using cheap knockoff copies of either proprietary or "standard" connector chargers. "

It is economical and environmental -- if chargers are proprietary, we keep binning them, and electronic waste is a huge (and growing) problem.

Besides, while nobody ever claimed it was about safety, safety may actually be improved as a happy side-effect: those faulty connectors you mention... do they have a CE mark? I doubt it -- EU safety regs are pretty damn good.

You will never be able to stop people importing their own unsafe super-cheap chargers, but when you break the proprietary monopoly, and there's a CE-tested charger available for a fiver at a local shop, why are you going to leave yourself waiting up to a month to get a £2.50 charger shipped from Taiwan?

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The Indomitable Gall

Re: Appropriate use of icon..

"assuming we're still part of the EU."

Here's hoping we're not..

Yeah, did you hear that those nasty Eurocrats were trying to feed our starving poor?

Those pinko Guardianistas don't seem to get it:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/17/government-under-fire-eu-funding-food-banks

They just don't understand that if we don't starve families to death, people won't have any motivation to develop entrepreneurship skills and become the sort of self-employed go-getters we love: contract cleaners who draw minimum wage for 3 hours' work a day, and can be ditched the moment they take a day off for illness. It's the flexibility of these heroes of industry that makes Britain great.

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You gotta fight for your copyright ... Beastie Boys sue toymaker over TV ad

The Indomitable Gall

Re: @rh587 wrt: Campbell vs Acuff-Rose Music

Utter tripe? {citation required}

There have been various cases in the US which have established that two things that might be considered individual "works" are only considered individual works if they have been conceived independently. I'm thinking mostly lyrics and tune here -- there have been several cases where lyricists have claimed royalties for instrumentals, because the tune is merely a part of the "work": the song.

So while I am arguably wrong, I am not undoubtedly wrong. If I was a lawyer (I'm not) and you were a lawyer (I'm pretty sure you're not) and we were arguing against each other in court, I hope you wouldn't address my arguments with "utter tripe". (Actually, scratch that, it would be nice for my opponent to be found in contempt...)

I'm not against people proving I'm wrong, but proving requires proof....

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The Indomitable Gall

Sorry, what makes them "increasingly 'establishment'"?

The fact that they're trying to maintain a personal artistic decision on how and when their music gets used? As opposed to that typical "anti-establishment" tendency to license it out for big spondoolicks to all comers for their TV spots?

Or maybe it's the fact that they're using the legal process to seek remedy rather than kicking down the offender's door and defecating in his fireplace?

Plenty of anti-establishment figures have used the judicial system to protect their anti-establishment stance. Those that don't aren't just "anti-establishment", they're anarchists. And anarchists are often just thoroughly antisocial selfish people by another name.

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The Indomitable Gall

@rh587 wrt: Campbell vs Acuff-Rose Music

"Commercial use" is too broad a banner here.

In Campbell vs Acuff-Rose Music, the parody itself was a commercial product, In this case, the parody does not exist as a standalone work -- it exists only within the advert, and the advert as a whole is not a parody, and the product that it is selling is not a parody.

If the song has no existence outside of the advert, the song isn't likely to be considered a "work" at all -- consider that US courts have already established precedent stating that the tune and lyrics of a song are a single work, so both composer and lyricist receive royalties for (and can block the use of) instrumental versions and lyric sheets.

That's what the BB's lawyers will be arguing, and I think they'll win.

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The Indomitable Gall

Re: Pretty much my thoughts too

@JeevesMkII

"Since almost all parody produced today is ultimately for commercial gain that seems like a pretty silly argument."

I think the difference here is that a parody is a work of art that has commentary or political expression as its primary reason for being.

This song has no existence independent of the advert, therefore its primary reason for being is clearly to be part of the advert and to sell a product that is not itself parody.

If the song had been written independently, and they'd picked it up to use in the advert after the fact, they'd maybe have a case, but that's not what happened, so its a rip-off.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear

The Indomitable Gall

Biscuit size and memory...

Whenever I wonder if a biscuit has really shrunk, I bring a pack to my parents' house, as they still have the cups that used to hold the milk I dunked my biscuits in. Certain biscuits needed a bit bitten off the side before they would fit. If they don't any more, then I know they've shrunk them.

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Speeding cops, fearsome drops and Death Star shops

The Indomitable Gall

Re: Personally

@John Sanders,

"If you do not pay the game is just not that fun, if you pay (or hack the game) it becomes way too easy.

Some game companies are like Telecom companies, they are putting way too much effort into the billing/charging for everything and little on the service quality/gameplay"

I think a lot of this sort of behavious comes down to what I call "the gamification of gaming".

Everyone outside of gaming has spent the last few years trying to "gamify" everything, from shopping to education, by pulling out the accoutrements of gaming (rewards, achievements, levels etc) and tacking them onto their "customer experience".

The problem is, that these accoutrements aren't actually a game -- there's no actual gameplay in it.

I remember when the term was new, there was an article on one of the gaming sites about "gamifying education", and a leading game programmer pointed out this very problem. Traditionally, playing games was about learning -- learn the level maps, learn how to time the jump, learn how to pull off the Dragon Punch with a quick flick. Brain scans show that playing computer games stimulates learning in ways that would make teachers green with envy... but it's the gameplay that does that, not the "achievements".

For instance, a few years ago, fired up an emulator and started playing the 8-bit tie-in game to the film Platoon, a game I hadn't played in over 15 years. I completed the first level on my first attempt, from memory. I remember the strategy to beat half of the first 50 levels in Bubble Bobble. There's dozens of shoot-em-ups that I would be able to glide through on autopilot, because I've learned them.

But games have been gamified.

Remember when MMORPGs were new, and people used to complain about "grinding" and "gold-mining" as being too much a part of the game? Most of these casual freemium games are just grinding. Tiny Death Star, for example, has virtually no game mechanics, nothing to learn and nothing to fight against. All you're doing is pressing buttons at partially random intervals to keep the credits coming in and to reach the next "achievement", and making a few simple decisions on what to build next... decisions that provide no feedback, so you can't learn from your mistakes.

If computer games are drugs, Tiny Death Star is nicotine. It offers no high, no real reward, but once you start on it, it dominates your life. "Just one little puff.... and another... and another."

I have uninstalled it.

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Mexican Cobalt-60 robbers are DEAD MEN, say authorities

The Indomitable Gall

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?

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Build your own WORKING Sonic Screwdriver... for a UNDER A FIVER

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Doctor Who nicked my plot and all I got was a mention in this lousy feature

The Indomitable Gall

@JamesTQuirk

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.

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Doctor Who Episode One: Through a glass. Darkly

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Google Helpout live vids: Helping you help us help ourselves, says web giant

The Indomitable Gall

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....

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Bacteria-chomping phages could kill off HOSPITAL SUPERBUGS

The Indomitable Gall

Simply put...

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").

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The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Volvo: Need a new car battery? Replace the doors and roof

The Indomitable Gall

Re: Bang the car, short the battery

@Dave 62

"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.

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Brit boffins trap light in Lego-like lumps

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Snap-happy blogger babe posts catcalling blokes' mugshots online

The Indomitable Gall

Art...?

" 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?

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Why a Robin Hood tax on filthy rich City types is the very LAST thing needed

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Computer Chess: Geek, gaming and retro-tech movie of the year

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Rubbish broadband drives Scottish people out of the Highlands

The Indomitable Gall

Re: Opinion?

@dak,

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.

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The Indomitable Gall

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.

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The Indomitable Gall

Opinion?

"...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.

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Scottish leader splurged £20k appealing disclosure of EU membership legal bungle

The Indomitable Gall

Re: Preposition?

...except that in the courts, an "appeal" is always against a ruling.

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Turkish TV presenter canned for flashing too much cleavage

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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UK plant bakes its millionth Raspberry Pi

The Indomitable Gall

" 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?

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The Indomitable Gall

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....

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Wikipedia Foundation exec: Yes, we've been wasting your money

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Police constable 1337 stunned by Lego lookalike

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Former Microsoftie in AUTOMATIC BEER MAKER funding plea

The Indomitable Gall

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!

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The Indomitable Gall

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....

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NSA: Yes, some of our spooks DID snoop on overseas lovers

The Indomitable Gall

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?

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The Indomitable Gall

Re: Tacky

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...

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Google's robot army learns Spanish

The Indomitable Gall

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.

&nbsp;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.

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The Indomitable Gall

Re: Can it handle a poor starting material

Anything that works for vocabulary can work for idioms, which are often as not thing more than multiword "words".

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The Indomitable Gall

No use...

"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.

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The Indomitable Gall

Re: Vectors!?!

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.

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Boffins have constructed a new LIGHT SABRE. Their skills are complete

The Indomitable Gall

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.

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Chaos Computer Club: iPhone 5S finger-sniffer COMPROMISED

The Indomitable Gall

Re: Pinky?

DougS

"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...

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Great Britain rebuilt - in Minecraft: Intern reveals 22-BEEELLION block map

The Indomitable Gall

NomNomNom...

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....

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