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* Posts by Pete 2

2371 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers

Pete 2
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On the bright side

> such expensive luxuries as welfare states and pensioners, proper healthcare (watch out for that pandemic), reasonable public services, affordable manufactured goods and transport, decent personal hygiene,

That scenario sounds like it would lead to a dramatic decrease in life expectancy, greater susceptibility to life-threatening diseases and accidents and an increase in infant mortality. So the logical conclusion would be that the number of people on the planet would drop - which would reduce the need for energy: whether renewable or not, hence lowering the drivers of climate change.

Isn't that the plan?

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'How a censorious and moralistic blogger ruined my evening'

Pete 2
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Re: cast the first stone

> Or are you suggesting ...

Note the could in the quoted section and the some in my comment.

AFAIK the Uber guy wasn't saying he was doing anything. He merely remarked that he could - as could any C-level person in any 8 or 9 or more-figure company. That in itself is not news - it's bleedin' obvious (as is the point that journalism is a dirty business). The newsworthy bit would be if he'd been careless enough to be caught doing. Something that nobody, so far, has. Been caught doing it, that is.

A taste of their own medicine As for retaliation. I do not find it tasteful, interesting or acceptable for a public figure to have their private life (and / or that of their families) paraded through the gutter press. If a journalist digs up something in the personal life of an executive (that is not illegal or pertinent to their job: the only reason they might be targeted) and publishes that. Why should that journalist not be subject to the same treatment?

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Pete 2
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cast the first stone

> suggesting he could hire a million dollar team to dig up dirt on hostile journalists

Given that this is what (some) journalists do for a living, any outrage seems rather empty, self-serving and hypocritical.

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HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox

Pete 2
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Re: No DNA on the moon

What about DNA attached to the hair from human contact?

Though it might not necessarily be the DNA of the hair's owner.

And if it isn't a hair from the person's head there could be all sorts of icky substances on it.

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Pete 2
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The blob

Makes you wonder what all that hair DNA will mutate into after a billion years on the moon. Given that people have paid their own money to send it there, I doubt it will evolve into anything intelligent

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MYSTERY Russian satellite: ORBITAL WEAPON? Sat GOBBLER? What?

Pete 2
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Re: or...

> Real secrets are not so easily made public, discovered and tracked.

Quite so. Given the "stealth" capabilities of military aircraft, it would seem to be a small matter to add a coat of the magic paint to anything you really didn't want space-tracking radar to pick up. Provide a way to position the solar panels so that they never reflect sunlight earthwards and use a very wide channel for your spread-spectrum comms and it should be invisible to earthly detection.

So we can assume that anything with is easily tracked, like the X-37, is probably a decoy or not very important.

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Cyber security: Do the experts need letters after their name?

Pete 2
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Professionalism by degrees

Getting a degree is a good first step. But that's all it is. It tells potential employers nothing about the practical skills, professionalism, integrity or experience of a candidate.

As such, employing people in something as critical as IT security based on such a basic qualification is asking for trouble. There is already an organisation in the UK that provides a sort of professional qualification and sets standards for its members, but the British Computer Society never seems to get a mention when talking about such things. Is the failing theirs, in not pushing and publicising their role - or is it that IT isn't really a "profession": just a series of "jobs" strung together, more or less, into a career?

There is obviously a need for something "above and beyond" a BSc or MSc and it could be argued that membership of a chartered institute would fulfill that requirement. After all it appears to be a necessary requirement for proper architects and other "real" professionals.

So instead of trying a DIY approach of setting up single solutions at various academic institutions, shouldn't the government be addressing the problem of getting suitable security professions at a much higher level, and breaking with IT tradition by mandating a truly professional qualification?

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EU battles over 'anti-terrorist' passenger records slurper law

Pete 2
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Lesson from Yes Minister

"We should always tell the press freely and frankly anything that they could easily find out for themselves"

And so it so with governments - or their security services (the EU drawing a distinction between them: the governing body and their member states' security strikes me as a little odd and rather clueless). Any terrorists entering the EU should be willing to give the security services a name, an itinery and as many phone numbers and email addresses as they think will make them happy. But our overlords and protectors shouldn't be surprised that if they call the number given to arrange a dawn raid and to make sure the address they were given is correct, that the number turns out to be the head of MI6, or their own mother's.

Giving this sort of information to the spooks will not help them. No self-respecting terrorist (well: one who hopes or expects to walk away from an "incident") would give up the goods that easily and therefore the only data they will collect will be from harmless individuals and private citizens with no nefarious intent.

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Don't assume public trusts you, MI5. 'Make a case' for surveillance – Former security chief

Pete 2
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Simple really

> It is a question of do you trust us

As a pseudo-equation, it's reasonable to think in terms of:

Trust = truth * time

So when we start hearing some truth, we'll start to give some trust .... in time.

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Why solid-state disks are winning the argument

Pete 2
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Too many words

> "Why should I use SSDs?"

Ans: because they're faster. Next question please.

Seriously, the reason people buy SSDs is the need for speed. Since they passed the threshold price (which is different for everyone: and we're talking home users here) it became apparent that unless you have a burning desire to record and keep for posterior every single episode of East Enders or you have a porn collection of willy-withering proportions, then the need for terabytes of storage or home NAS's is largely driven by marketing (and the fact that the disk manufacturers have to keep the unit price high, hence increased capacities).

And even if you do need the odd 50 Gig for some purpose, it's a trivial matter to whip out a 64GB thumb drive and put your big stuff on that. Who knows, some strange people might even use them for backups. That way you can lose your entire life's work by accidentally dropping a USB drive down the lav'.

Even Windows 8.1 leaves oodles of free space, even on a 40GB SSD and with most people leaving their email in the cloud those loving missives from Aunty Flo, replete with humungous videos of her pu cat can be viewed with no hit on the home front. And if you do need more storeage: USB drives are frighteningly large, these days.

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Languages don't breed bugs, PEOPLE breed bugs, say boffins

Pete 2
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Still playing favourites

> the differences in code quality between languages are pretty small

Maybe so. But what about the differences in (language) learning time, ease of code development, the size of the executable and the speed it runs?

It's also arguable that people who were taught one programming style will be more comfortable and produce better product when using languages which conform to that technique than if they are made to use a different, possibly merely more trendy, method of turning letters into bits.

It would also be instructive to see whether the IDE (or lack thereof) used, or different coverage/testing techniques employed by different programmers contributed to the buginess of the end result.

No matter how good / bad the language: the crucial difference is always the quality, documentation and extent of the supporting libraries and and learning material.

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Trickle-down economics WORKS: SpaceShipTwo is a PRIME EXAMPLE

Pete 2
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Re: Why supply-side / trickle-down failed...

> lower taxes for the rich in the belief/statement that they will spend that money

I think there's a little more to it than that.

People don't get rich by spending money. They get rich by investing wisely (or exploiting the workers, if you're a Guardian columnist). So I think the motivation for reducing taxation on the wealthy - apart from the point that they can afford good accountants, so any tax they do pay is more like a voluntary donation - is that they will then invest their loot in promising enterprises which, when they succeed, will increase the wealth of the country (and hopefully pay a bit of tax, or employ lots of people).

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Pete 2
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Reel 'em in

> The Guardian sometimes makes at making sense of matters economic. ... The latest cause of choler is Zoe Williams

With very few exceptions, Guardian columnists craft their copy primarily as click bait. Most have little idea whether what they are writing is true, sensible, practical or possible, And no-one in the editorial chain seems to bother with any sort of fact checking.They seem to have a clique that is engaged in some sort of competition to write stuff simply to get a reaction - which, judging by the percentage of comments that are pulled for not meeting their community standards, they then subject to one of the most censorious regulation systems in the UK's "free" press.

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I am POLICE SERGEANT L. TORVALDS! Stop or I'll SHOOT

Pete 2
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Writing in Code

I watched the first episode of The Code. It was slightly less fun than reading the man page for EMACS

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Spanish 'Google tax' could end up like Germany's everyone-BUT-Google tax

Pete 2
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Follow the money

> the first [ part of the law ] allows (AEDE) to charge content aggregators for any snippets they publish

The basic problem is that there are few european democracies that are as inept as Spain in passing laws. Most laws there seem to either be simple revenue raising efforts that punish successful businesses, or "favours" to the government's brown-envelope-toting friends to nobble competition. Either way, little or no thought is given to the side-effects or unintended consequences of their enforcement. Alternatively they simply aren't enforced at all - or the imposed fines merely achieve the status of another tax on people or businesses.

Just like Hungary quickly canned their plans to tax the internet, I can't see Spain getting any benefit from this lark.

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New GCHQ spymaster: US tech giants are 'command and control networks for TERROR'

Pete 2
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Re: Surveil?!?

> "Surveil" though, is particularly ugly and unnecessary and leads to abominations like "we surveilled him for five days" which is not only ugly but also effectively unpronounceable.

Heh, heh. Try it in french (from where the word comes) nous surveillions.

Though it is a fair point. However, "survey" doesn't really carry the ominous overtones I was aiming for and although it comes from the same root doesn't have as strong a link to surveillance. The more common "watch" suffers from the same lack of sinister intent.

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Pete 2
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> the GCHQ boss told FT that internet users would welcome a little surveillance

And how does he know that? By listening in to our conversations, of course!

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Pete 2
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What was the question?

This is a potato / tomato issue. If you ask "the public" (i.e. get a couple of vox-pops on the telly) if they want GCHQ to keep them safe from terrorists, the answer will be a resounding yes! Ask them if they are happy for GCHQ to spy on them, personally and the answer will be no. (Apart from the shrinking number who have never heard of mistakes, mistaken identity or impersonation/hijacked accounts and still go by the notion if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide)

The basic problem is twofold. First, we are much more aware of the extent to which governments surveil their citizens: treating everyone as a potential criminal and secondly, possibly linked, they have lost the moral authority to say "trust us".

Maybe - just maybe, if there were strong controls that were properly enforced by a truly independent authority which was able to prevent the abuse of data there would be a more sympathetic view. But in the UK it's not possible to say "this law is only for .... " since once a power has been bestowed, it is generally used for whatever the authorities deem necessary or desirable, rather than within the strict boundaries it was originally intended.

However, the problem with that is that we don't have such a system and also that a lot of this "evidence" never sees the light of day or examination in a trial, so would be unregulatable no matter how well trusted the overseeing authority was.

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Pixel mania: Apple 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

Pete 2
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Wotta lotta pixels

So what could you actually display on a 5K monitor that wouldn't be as good on a 4K one?

Well, the obvious answer for the average user is images from a 5K camera (and possibly the only answer: since video refreshes at rates that make seeing each pixel impractical - not to mention impossible, and once you can read a piece of text at a reasonably sharp definition, adding more hi-def. doesn't make it any better or easier to read - otherwise nobody would be able to use "old" 27-inch 1920x1080 screens to do that).

So still images it is. But wait! Even if you take an image from your DSLR, hasn't it been de-bayered inside the camera (and squished around to turn it into JPEG), so it's not exactly WYSIWYG any more. Going further: if you choose to take a squint at the RAW format, the camera still has an anti-aliasing filter in front of the sensor to reduce all those nasty Moire patterns. So you aren't even seeing the real image then, either - TIFF, JPEG or not.

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Brazil greenlights $200m internet cable to Europe in bid to outfox NSA

Pete 2
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Data independence

Others here have mentioned Russian gas as being a strategic weakness for Europeans and those within the Russian "sphere". America has laws against exporting oil extracted from the USA in order to protect its supply.

Similarly, India has announce that it is planning a (country-wide) GPS system so it's not subject to the whims of a foreign power. Europe is building the Galileo system and independence may be one of the reasons (though you can never tell with Brussels-originated schemes what the hell they are for).

The reason that Brazil (a Portuguese-speaking country) would want its own direct connection to another part of the Portuguese speaking world (viz. Portugal) doesn't have to be about cost - countries spend a great deal of money on "soft power" and building ties with their allies and $180Mil would just about buy you one shiny new fighter aircraft.

So it's not an unreasonable thing to do. It strengthens bonds, adds some self-reliance, gives a powerful northern neighbour something to think about and might even reduce ping-times to Portugal and the rest of Europe. If you're doing financial deals that alone could be worth the cost (there was a new cable laid across the Atlantic a few years ago that paid for itself by cutting 6mSec off traders latency).

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DRUPAL-OPCALYPSE! Devs say best assume your CMS is owned

Pete 2
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The canary?

> sites unexpectedly patched to Drupal version 7.32 could indicate compromise

So should we assume that while Drupal sites have *not* been upgraded to 7.32, that they haven't been hacked (yet)?

Oddly for such a "catastrophic" bug, 1 2 3 4 5 ... all but 1 site on the first 2 pages of the Drupal showcase website (that still exist, or still run Drupal) runs an outdated version.

Version checker:

http://www.whitefirdesign.com/tools/drupal-version-check.html

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Hey - who wants 4.8 TERABYTES almost AS FAST AS MEMORY?

Pete 2
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Memories are made of this

Sounds promising. Give me a call when it hits $100.

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Cray-cray Met Office spaffs £97m on VERY AVERAGE HPC box

Pete 2
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Re: 16TFlops for £97m???

> I suspect they mean 16 PFlops

Yes. Los Alamos have recently ordered an XC40 for a similar amount ($170M).

"The liquid-cooled XC40 offers up to 384 sockets and up to 226 teraflops of performance per cabinet"

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Pete 2
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Is this what they call ...

cloud computing?

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Planning to fly? Pour out your shampoo, toss your scissors, RENAME TERRORIST WI-FI!

Pete 2
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Re: Fakes on a Plane

> No they don't. Any more than they have to act on warnings that flying unicorns are orbiting the tower.

It's not ignorance or stupidity. It's a simple case of covering your arse and increasing your own importance.

Security, police or practically any institution have nothing to lose by inconveniencing the public, no matter what the pretext. If a flight gets delayed by a security scare, then whoever made that decision does so with impunity. If asked to defend their actions, a reply of "national security" goes unquestioned and frequently praised.

So given that it costs them nothing to take such action, but leads to a shitstorm of apocalyptic proportions if they get it wrong, there is no question which way they will go. If the inconvenience and headlines their action causes can be leveraged to increase fear awareness which will only ever lead to increased job security, then there's no possible downside. Unless, of course, you're a passenger.

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Mozilla hopes to challenge Raspbian as RPi OS of choice

Pete 2
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Validation

Hopefully this is bigger than just the Pi and shows that all these small, cheap and very capable SBCs are on Moz's radar as being worthy platforms for development. That will give the whole sector a boost - just so long as Moz doesn't become the Gorilla in the room and dominates the entire ecosystem.

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Computer misuse: Brits could face LIFE IN PRISON for serious hacking offences

Pete 2
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Mightier than the sword

If "hacking" really is a greater threat to our national safety, then should it not be an equally serious offence to allow, suffer or permit such security holes to exist?

Using this proposed law as a basis, why don't we disband the british armed services and merely make it a crime for foreigners to invade the UK. That should be enough to stop 'em!

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Hacked and ashamed? C'mon, Brits – report that cybercrime

Pete 2
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Sitting on offence

> only a third of those who'd been a victim (32 per cent) actually reported the offence.

A third! That sounds incredibly high.

So far today I've received 2 cold calls and half a dozen attempted frauds to various email addresses. The cold-calls were not from any company I had given my details to and may (or may not) have obtained them legally. The emails that are variants on "here's your invoice for ... " are simply attempts at coning me into sending them money.

To whom should I report all this attempted or suspected criminal behaviour? And are there enough hours in the day to actually do so? More importantly, should I expect anyone to actually do anything (apart from add "1" to the number of variously reported activities) to prevent, reduce or deter these attempts and punish the perpetrators.

My feeling is that attempted cyber-crime has zero status. Even actual fraud is dealt with in a cursory manner and if it was to be treated in the same way as minor infractions in other areas of the law, we'd need every able-bodied person the country recruited into the police force to even start scratching the surface.

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The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?

Pete 2
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Latin, softwre and misunderstanding

> "To be good at Computer Science you need Maths and Physics,"

Bollocks!

There may be some correlation between people who choose maths and physics AND like programming. However, they are neither a prerequisite nor a foundation for it.

The main requirement for a programmer is the ability to think in the abstract: a discipline that doesn't seem to be anywhere on the curriculum in schools. A close second, in terms of attributes that indicate good or bad programming ability is an analytic approach to problem solving.

However, it would seem nigh on impossible to teach these in schools, or even exercise them as skills as it would require teaching staff who were similarly "gifted". And those are mental facilities that seem to be rare in schools, difficult to assess or test and not exactly encouraged in teaching staff.

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You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data

Pete 2
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The question?

They say that a question well asked is half answered. And so it appears to be.

> "the answer is therefore always in the data"

Now, while the answer might be in the data, whether it is or not will depend on what the question is. If you collect data regarding the size and distribution of pebbles on a beach, that won't provide answers to questions about the price of gold. You have to have the correct data and know what is the right question.

Knowing what the right question actually is, is the most overlooked part of software design. That is what makes it so difficult. Ask one person what it (a new project) should do and you'll get one answer, ask another person and you'll get a different answer. Ask a third and they'll tell you "I can't say: but I'll know it when I see it".

In most cases, the primary goal (no matter what the management team might say) of a piece of software is to meet the expectations of the users. Leaving aside the functional requirements: often the smallest part and the easiest to get right, most users simply want three things - they want the software to be fast, they want it to work intuitively and they want it to be consistent. After that we get down to small matters like producing the correct answer, not requiring an entire datacentre to support a single instance and not taking 20 years to develop.

So far as how that meshes with the "business requirements", so long as the users are happy, the auditors are happy and the budget wasn't exceeded, that is pretty much all you need to count a project as a success, The problem is that hardly any company ever asks the users what they want from a new application and hardly any of the attributes they value are ever measured, or designed in. So we end up with all the correct technical data to design a project, but none of the data necessary to answer the important questions that will define whether it will succeed or not.

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Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'

Pete 2
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Re: Documentation is beyond the capabilities of most FOSS-ers

> Actually it's not a joke - it's a reference to Real Programmers Don't Use Pascal

Yes. I'm familiar with the quote. However, I've always considered it sarcasm.

The reason is that the code describes what the computer will DO, not necessarily what the coder INTENDED. It also completely fails to assist in indicating what false leads the original implementer tried and discarded, the assumptions or requirements that were in the original design (another part of the documentation) or the reasons for choosing that one particular way of writing the solution. Even then, it doesn't take into account whatever bugs, shortcomings, numerical overflows or timing/race conditions are applied by the hardware, even if the software is algorithmically correct and compiled to a true executable.

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Pete 2
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Re: Development

> In a meritocracy if your ideas and knowledge are rubbish, then I do not need to have respect for you

It is important to differentiate the person from the product.

One should always respect (or at least: be polite to) others. But that doesn't mean you have to praise, use or accept whatever work they have produced. Most of us would claim respect or admiration for Leonardo da Vinci - even though most of his "designs" were fanciful and impractical, given what we know today.

In the same way, most americans: even ones who dislike the present occupant of The White House would claim respect for the position of President, without necessarily extending that to the person holding that office.

The true mark of a leader is that they can motivate the immature, the insolent, the arrogant and the plain obstinate. Getting intelligent people (those who can see the greater good or the long view) on board is easy. Getting the best out of those who are both gifted AND childish is where a leader's talent shows itself.

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Pete 2
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Re: Documentation is beyond the capabilities of most FOSS-ers

> Erm, the code is obvious. Why do that?

I'm assuming you omitted the JOKE icon?

But just in case the question is genuine, it's for the same reason that knowing how a car engine works doesn't give you the ability to drive.

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Pete 2
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Re: Eric Raymond's (in)famous quote

> what's the next step up from a direct talking to?

That's the problem. In the real world it would (ultimately) be termination - not in a kill -9 way, but withdrawal of salary and benefits. However, in the free software world; where contributors are not getting any tangible rewards, there is nothing to threaten them with.

The motivation (the "carrot") is easy: these programmers do it for the recognition and we can see from the obsessive number of hours that some spend writing FOSS that they value this highly - maybe even more than earning a regular salary.

If this is the form that the programmer-figurehead contract takes: you give me working code, I tickle your egotistical tummy, then it's easy to reward good work but difficult to punish the bad without resorting to the only leverage you have: public humiliation. And even that doesn't work when they can just take their project and fork it.

That does seem to me to be the biggest weakness of the whole "free" development model. The contributors cannot be directed to doing things they don't want to do. So while coding is fun and they will willingly do that, debugging is tedious (and intellectually hard) and takes some effort to motivate. Documentation is beyond the capabilities of most FOSS-ers (not meant to rhyme with any pejorative terms) and intuitive UI design is simply impossible for almost any of them to understand the importance of, let alone get right.

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Scientists skeptical of Lockheed Martin's truck-sized FUSION reactor breakthrough boast

Pete 2
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Re: More than the core

> Are you for real? The heat output of any boiler or reactor is the means of making electricity

When you look at how reactors (and the associated power generation) is specified, they usually quote two values: MWt and MWe - one for thermal and one for electrical output.

The 100MW quoted for this (theoretical) device appears to be the thermal output.

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Pete 2
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More than the core

This reactor will be small, but it's only one part of a practical power generation system. It appears that the 100MW "power" the article mentions is the heat output - not mains electricity coming out that ordinary people could use.

Apart from this component, a usable generator would still need all the paraphernalia that every power station requires: generation plant, a means to dissipate all the waste heat (even with electricity generation at 50% efficiency, this reactor/generator would have to dump 50MW), safety and control equipment as well as a source of neutrons.

So while this device will be (note the tense!) small-ish at 7m x 10m, it will be still about the same size as the reactors currently fitted in nuclear submarines. The big development is not so much the size of the power plant, but that it doesn't produce weaponisable waste products - though you have to wonder what all those neutrons will do to the heat-conductors inside the thermal blanket and what they'll produce - depending what the blanket is made of.

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Martha Lane Fox: YEUCH! The Internet is MADE by MEN?!?

Pete 2
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The drip

> "that something that is now fundamental, like the water"

Hmmm, it may be that fundamental to her - the oxygen of publicity and all that, but I think most sane realistic individuals would disagree.

Though it would be an interesting exercise to consider what an internet that had been developed by women would be like. Would it be any different at all? I doubt it.

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Ancient Brits 'set wealthy man's FANCY CHARIOT on FIRE' – boffins

Pete 2
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The future awaits

> The chariot bits were found buried amid a pile of "burnt cinder and slag"

Archaeologists in 3000 A.D. will, most likely, say the same thing about Teslas

Maybe the horses towing this jalopy suffered a particularly powerful "backfire" just as the driver was lighting up?

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'Theoretical' Nobel economics explain WHY the tech industry's such a damned mess

Pete 2
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Looking back

> This year the prize goes to something useful in the real world,

Well, useful in that it explains some of our past and current tech-company phenomena. But since it's scope does not include a model or any predictive powers, it is not very helpful in charting the future. Regulating past excesses and abuses is still a wise move, but the technology world is (in)famous for coming up with workarounds for inconvenient consumer protections.

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Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar

Pete 2
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Cut'n'paste

> you could use the camera on cell phones ... [ to use a photograph instead of a password ]

So instead of a baddie having to guess what random or obvious string of letters and numbers you use to gain access to all of your luvverly data, they would now just need a photo of your fizzog? What then - just print it out, life-size, cut off the background, paste it to a stick and hold it up for verification and access. Worse still, what are you supposed to do if there's someone who looks suffciently like you to pass "your" face recognition test - grow a moustache? (and how do you change your face if the security database is hacked?)

In a similar vein, we are also told that more entities are starting to use voice-prints as a means of verifying a person's identity. Pardon my stupidity, but "stealing" that merely involves phoning a person up and getting them to say a pre-set word or phrase, while recording the phone. Sounds even worse!

Thanks, but I'll stick with information that isn't freely available to anyone with a mobile phone - for them to take with neither my permission nor knowledge.

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Son of Hudl: Tesco flogs new Atom-powered 8.3-inch Android tablet

Pete 2
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Granny friendly?

Something like this sounds ideal for an elderly relative: Tesco shopper, BT BB customer (so has access to their national wifi n/w) and currently using a passed-down lappy that is becoming rather too heavy to move around.

Any comments from the octogenarian readership?

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10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register

Pete 2
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Re: "This column is inspired by a particularly rash month of phonecalls."

> You can probably get some cream for that.

or call in a telephone sanitizer.

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Pete 2
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Number seven

> “Hello, is that [x]?”

That seems like a perfectly normal (I use it myself, all the time) initial enquiry.

If the person who picks up the ringing phone and unhelpfully and redundantly just grunts "Hello" without introducing themselves, or identifying who's phone they have answered, or the name of the "desk" you have called, then asking if that is the person who you called is realistic. It should also be the optimal opener, too: since the laws of probability suggest that the person answering [x['s phone would be [x] him/her/it's self.

As far as telephone etiquette is concerned, unless you are staffing the desk at one of the Home or Foreign Office's more discrete centres of operation, then a named introduction is both polite and time-saving for both sides. If you're shy (or running a sales campaign) then it doesn't even have to be your real name - though if you parents passed on their last name of Ferkov you might choose to put some effort into the annunciation - or not.

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US astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson: US is losing science race

Pete 2
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Only themselves to blame

> the United States has lost pole position in scientific research and its people must refocus

A good start would be to teach actual science in schools, rather than creationism.

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Will we ever can the spam monster?

Pete 2
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Anti-spam-iotics

> Only arrests will help bring about the serious reduction in spam many dream of.

Nope.

The way to stop spam is to kill off the botnets. The basic attribute of the criminal mind is the assumption that they won't get caught. No crim. performs a risk-reward assessment before embarking on a course of action. They all assume that the risk of getting nicked is small or insignificant (or that the punishment will be 10 minutes on the "naughty" step). Therefore arresting spammers will only take those individuals off the internet: it won't stop new ones taking their place.

The only way to stop spam as a whole is to deny the spammers access to the millions of machines that send out their content. Without those, they have no practical means of either infecting new machines or or sending out enough messages to make a 1 in a million conversion rate a viable way of turning a profit. If we considered spam like we think of disease, the "treatment" would be to attack the infection, "cure" the machines and ensure they are immune to further attacks. What's the best way to do that? Probably to use a "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy and have some very clever people build their own viruses that shut down infected machines and beef-up their security using exactly the same security holes that got them infected in the first place.

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Our Vultures peck at new Doctor Who: Exterminate or, er ... carrion?

Pete 2
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Above criticism

There are two things that commentards will not hear a word against: Dr. Who is one.

Maybe to get a bit of Register luvvin' all the Doctor has to do is dump his sonic screwdriver and whip out his Raspberry Pi.

It stands to reason that within the confines of a time machine, the bitty little processor would have an infinite clock speed and due to the Dimensional Transcendentalism of the TARDIS, probably much more memory than appears from the outside. Therefore it would be eminently possible for the pinn-y little thing to solve any problem it was given.

You never know, it might even come up with some better scripts.

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Microsoft's nightmare DEEPENS: Windows 8 market share falling fast

Pete 2
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Re: What about Gartner's results

> Poeple actually pay this company for it "analysis" of markets

It's my understanding that people (well: high-level management) pay consultants for validation of their preconceived plans rather than to provide direction for their new ones.

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UK reforms on private copying and parody come into force

Pete 2
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The law is an ...

> ... parody, a concept which is new to English law

Strange, I had the distinct impression that English law had always been a parody.

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Etsy security rule #1: Don't be a jerk to devs

Pete 2
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Re: Calm down, explain your terms

> and largely unintelligible

Well, since the author's name is Pauli, you'd expect some exclusion.

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Pete 2
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Easily pleased?

> bribes to developers who report flaws including gift cards and tee-shorts which he said worked "shockingly well"

One place I worked, some years ago, had an incentive scheme where each manager had a couple of discretionary "gifts" to dole out every few months. This amounted to a "free" but receipted entry on your expenses for a meal out with a +1 (up to a limit of approx. £50: just above pizzas and a bottle of wine in value). While it was nice to get the recognition it made absolutely no difference to how an individual performed.

>a hall of fame was more important than monetary rewards

A friend is a secondary school teacher. The school has a motivational "star" system with "winners" names going on a board in the entrance lobby. However, it really only works for the 13's and under. After that, awarding a child a star is seen as an egregious insult and is more likely to have the opposite affect to the one intended.

I would suggest that if SignalSciences thinks they are actually altering the behaviour of their employees with such trivia, they are either employing immature developers who are so bereft of love and attention that they could replace their gift certificates with a lollipop and still get the same result, or that their staff scorn their rewards, are intelligent enough to have calculated that they amount to ¢¢¢'s per hour and are actually rewarding themselves in other ways from the company's coffers.

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