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* Posts by Pete 2

2293 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media

Pete 2
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Piles of trials

> I think that there is a strong case for saying that they should be televised: that is merely the modern extension of enabling the public to enter the courts physically

The small amount of stuff I've seen from the Pistorious trial leads me to exactly the opposite conclusion. It all seemed to be grandstanding and playing to the cameras. In the same way that televising Parliament has done nothing to improve its reputation (PMQs has probably eroded the credibility of the Commons more than all the scandals, frauds and fiddles put together) and I can't see how the slow, ponderous, proceedings of a courtroom (I once took myself down to a court, just to see what went on: dull, dull, dull - forget anything like what you see on TV) could ever make "justice" appear more desirable.

I've also seen TV from american courtrooms (I was in Boston during the Harding / Kerrigan skating trial) and can't say it impressed, or interested, me: as an outsider it appeared to just be a platform for a group of self-important individuals to further inflate their egos. As a consequence, I can't see live TV trials being any more significant than the BBC Parliament channel - and probably watched by the same number of people. Though even those numbers of viewers would beat a lot of the digital channels and the vast majority of what comes off the Astra2 satellites.

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'Stop dissing Google or quit': OK, I quit, says Code Club co-founder

Pete 2
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On the board

So: children still get people trying to tell them how to code.

Trendy IT "charities" still get money from government in the hope it will make them look "modern" and money from corporates in the hope it will make them look as if they're "giving back".

An organisation's director is informed that part of that role is showing solidarity with your benefactors

And someone's blog gets an upswing in the number of hits.

Surely the time to voice an objection, especially for a board member, is when the corporate sponsorship is being discussed. If you realise at that point that you are unable to square what that sponsor stands for with some personal opinions you are incapable of keeping to yourself, that's the time to quit.

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Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything

Pete 2
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> Open Source software... where deliberate hobbling is not possible

Actually, it is. If the agreement you have committed to with a supplier includes limitations on the "what, how, when or how-many" you are permitted to use, it makes no difference whether you are physically or logically able to enable those features that you haven't paid for. Or whether any software that comes with (or forms) the product is Open Source or closed source. You know: all thise "I agree" boxes you tick. They can contain any limitations the author wishes to include.

Even if the software comes with its source code, if you contravene the terms of the purchase / rental / usage then that is as much a no-no as if you'd cracked any protection schemes that prevent a user from access those additional features. Though with "free" software, this is mainly down to the honour of the user - to abide by the terms they agreed they would, than hard prevention.

Hobbling can be implemented either in hardware or software - or in the contractual terms of use. It just comes down to how honest you are, whether you abide by them or not. For example, some "free" software disallows its use for military purposes. Other licences prevent the authors' "free" software being used in specific countries.

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Pete 2
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This is real "free" software

The other side of the coin is that since customers are savvy enough (and have always been) to know that these extra features cost the supplier nothing, they are a nice, easy target during the negotiations when you are thinking about what to buy. (Obv. this is intended for corporate users, not people who just walk into a shop, wave the plastic and walk out with a box under their arm).

When you are buying that $40,000 server - or, more likely, a few dozen of them, nobody actually pays the list price: most customers pay far more, since they will want an integrated package that includes warranty, support, training, installation and that funny "software" stuff - which can cost many thousands but comes on a 10p DVD.

So during the negotiations, the buyer says "we want this, that and the other" to which the salesperson says "'scuse me, I'm just mentally spending the commish" then puts down the latest copy of Yatching World and replies "Ahh, but you'll also want X, Y and Z too" (and picks up the magazine again).

Once the sales person thinks the deal is done, that's when the canny buyer drops the bombshell: "Oh, how about turning on the extra-turbo-whizzy feature, too? It's only a licence key and the feature's already there - so it doesn't cost you anything". Upon the prospect of their 24-footer (!) sailing away from them, the sales person will, at that point, agree to pretty much anything. And if you time the deal to be just before the end-of-quarter, they'd probably give you a go on their new yacht, too. Hence all those "features" are really just no-cost-to-anyone negotiating points.

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Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

Pete 2
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Re: Going multicore

> If dists are built to the new Pi specification then they'll run the same way as they do now.

But they aren't - and they won't.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

First the Allwinner SoCs have a lot of pins (a LOT) that are primarily intended to drive an LCD. If you base a new Pi on these devices, people will see the new features, such as this, and want to use them. That will lead to a fork of the user-base and split the development effort. Not to mention making the boards physical layout a lot different.

Secondly, the reference SunXi Linux ports have a low-level mapping between the processor's hardware pins and their functions. This FEX file is user-configurable and is set up during boot-time. Hence a piece of software that assumes (say) pin PB22 is a serial output pin when a different cut of Linux, or a different version of the same distribution has decided that pin should be a digital input, instead, will fail in weird and improbable ways.

There are many other reasons, but these serve as illustrations that the gap between a Pi and a "next-gen" SBC is large and widening.

And it's reasons like this which are why software compatibility will go out the window and why the processor families are different from each other. Now that doesn't mean the the simple user interface and APIs used on a Pi can't be ported across. But the new SBCs are so much more powerful and have so many additional features that producing products which leave out those features will severely limit their take up - especially as there are established enterprises that are already producing fuil-featured products.

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Pete 2
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Going multicore

The problem is that once you bump the processor up to something more modern, your software compatibility goes out the window,

The Quad Cores are coming (in a month or two). But they are very different beasts from the Pi and the O/S's they run are sufficiently different that the Pi's biggest asset: it's base of user software, would have to be restarted, reported or redesigned.

While that may not be such a bad thing - it will take the wind out of the Pi's sails and given that there are so many other products already in the SBC multi-processor market, it would be difficult for the Pi to regain its old pre-eminence.

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LOHAN Kickstarter bid IS GO: Back our Vulture 2 spaceplane launch

Pete 2
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Tax attacks

> Take out the spaceport fees, kickstarter fees, the cost of the merchandise...

Wottabout taxes?

If this undertaking is being done under the auspices of El Reg (presumably already VAT registered) then won't there be VAT on the merch you sell. And maybe come corporation tax on the rest? (IANAA, but you'd already guessed that!).

If you're doing this in a personal capacity, what's your income tax situation. As for going to the USA on a commercial venture ... Does that need a visa? And I'd love to see your travel insurance application: "Oh yes, we want medical cover to go the the USA to launch a rocket ... "

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Echopraxia scores 'diamond cutter' on the sci-fi hardness scale

Pete 2
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Re: Why don't media include source links?

> In this case, links to the author's web page, or (heaven forfend the capitalism!) to one or more book sellers

I'm sure a wild stab in the dark will see you arriving at the site of an online bookstore that sells this.

(after a wild stab of my own: apparently it's on pre-order for the next few days)

Personally, I'm about to tuck in to Ancillary Justice

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LOHAN packs bags for SPACEPORT AMERICA!

Pete 2
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Re: A Very Special Project

> But maybe the nice people at White Sands will let the SPB team launch from the Trinity atomic test site!

I drove past there a few years back on my way from Albuquerque to Alamagordo. Basically, there's a gate with a lock on it which is only opened for 1 day a year. That is the only route down to the test site - and it's a long way from the road. There are a few roadside stalls selling "atomic" rocks (i.e. rocks) but that's about your lot. The test site was chosen because it's very difficult to get to.

Otherwise, there might be a town within 50 miles (I stopped to gas-up) but that's about your lot.

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Pete 2
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Re: A very rude man from the Ministry of Obstruction

I think I see your problem:

> Ministry of Obstruction declined to authorise the Intercommunity transfer of explosives, citing local law

There are two points to appreciate. The first is that Spain's version of democracy makes everything illegal unless explicitly permitted. The second is that if you don't like the local laws, just go down the road - they'll be different there (repeat until you either find laws that you like, or run out of road - in which case, prepare the ever-effective and still extremely popular plain brown envelope)

A friend decided to import his venerable old Land Rover. This involved taking it down to the local MoT (in Spain: ITV - run by the government, not a local garage) testing station and starting the process of having it registered. The individual there had never seen a Landy before and duly pronounced it to be a Lorry (pretty obvious really: since it had 4 wheels and seats inside) and therefore would cost €12,000 to "process" and would have to be re-tested every 6 months - it being a "commercial" vehicle 'n' all.

Rather than do the typical brit thing of stumping up and grumbliing a bit, he took to to a different ITV station, in a place just a leeeetle more wordly (where the donkeys have straw hats) and duly got it declared a car and subject to the usual domestic arrangements for transferring to a spanish registration - which only required the payment of several hundred €€€s and was brown-envelope free.

The caveat being, that while local laws are both arbitrary and geographically inconstant (and interpreted by individuals with neither the qualifications nor the motivation to make an informed choice) they can - and frequently are - revised without any warning or notification. Worse than that: they appear to be capable of retrospective revision, with fines payable for transgressions that come about due to changes - even if things were done legally under the "old" law.

P.S. There isn't one single Ministry of Obstruction, all the Ministries serve that purpose.

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Cops baffled by riddle of CHICKEN who crossed ROAD

Pete 2
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Re: What?!

I suppose it depends on the size of the bird. A largish one could do a lot of damage to your car if you hit it at speed. Though it would almost certainly go under the vehicle - unless it took flight at the last second and hit your windscreen.

Though I do agree: anyone who puts their own life (and that of their passengers and other motorists) at risk by slowing / stopping on a motorway, simply to "save" some wildlife shouldn't be a driver.

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Tricked by satire? Get all your news from Facebook? You're in luck, dummy

Pete 2
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Rag tag

> distinguish real news from parody pieces that use ironic exaggeration

While reading this I thought that maybe FB should introduce a [BS] tag, too. Though there would be plenty more "news" sites that wouldn't need it - as their title tells you that by default.

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Top money men face up to 2 YEARS in slammer for neglecting to spot crim-cash activity

Pete 2
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A neat trick if you can do it

> they [ the financial company ] must also "verify key facts that only the customer may know

Hmmm.

"Can you tell us something that only you know? So that we can verify it"

Well, I could. But then you'd know it, too. So it wouldn't be something that only I knew.

"D'oh!"

Sounds like it's a wise idea to keep a stash of cash under the mattress. Just in case your bank suddenly and arbitrarily decides you're a terrrrrist and won't let you make any withdrawls. An oooopsie, sorreeee after the fact just doesn't cut it.

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Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media

Pete 2
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Unnatural bedfellows

> we have to protect our intellectual property.

It's not often your hear "intellectual" being used in an article about football.

But, heigh-ho - I suppose if they can find a way to block stuff that *they* have a right to - but not, say, of little Johnny knocking one into the back of the net at the local park - then good luck to 'em

It's odd though. You'd have hoped there would be more to a football match: 90 minutes and £40 than just a few seconds of a ball moving from a boot (or head, or <ahem> hand) to a net. Makes you wonder whether the entire 39 week soccer season couldn't just be telescoped down into a 5 minute mass-kicking sometime in May. You'd get all the goals and it would save a whole lot of tedious traveling, speculation, punditry and disappointment.

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Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

Pete 2
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Choosing better heslos

> across corporate America

Where, presumably the passwords are all created on a QWERTY keyboard and use anglicised spellings. (Or should that be anglicized?)

I wonder how much harder these guys would have found it to crack passwords in the other 95% of the world where words have letters not found in american: for example ñ and "password" might translate as senha or contraseña

Maybe the "secret" is to employ multi-lingual systems administrators. Who says off-shoring is always a bad idea?

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Murder accused DIDN'T ask Siri 'how to hide my roommate'

Pete 2
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Forestry

Sounds like it's not a good idea to ask how to sell any spare woodland you might find yourself owning:

Siri, how do I dispose of a copse?"

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Meet the Flockers... and please, do try to contain yourself

Pete 2
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The SUN never sets

> multiple apps under a single OS inside a containing structure

Isn't this what Solaris had about 10 years ago? Containers or zones (I forget - it's been a while)

> Snarky old IT folks might sarcastically recall multi-tasking under one OS and sniff in sorrow

Yup, pass the snifters. I'll have an Armagnac.

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Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy

Pete 2
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Re: How to plan central planning

> Government also backed wind

Governments always back wind - as they have so much of it.

While we appear to be largely in agreement, it does seem to me that governments *could* plan better, but they are so easily tempted away from the true path by short-term political opportunities. As you point out vociferous opposition to closing some hospitals - even though it would save lives (but dead people can't complain).

They are also venal, self-serving bastids who value the chance to stick-it to the opposition as much as they do the possibility of doing something good. And as for bending to newspaper headlines and "quiet words" from influential parties? Well, it's amazing that they do anything at all for the people who elected them.

Our current system (if not the individuals who are currently implementing it) might not be the best, but it's probably close to being the least-worst.

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Pete 2
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Re: How to plan central planning

> There's a strong feeling that 2011 will be the last census - because the data quality is getting so much worse.

Which doesn't deny the need for the data that censuses have provided. It just means there are now better (faster, cheaper, more accurate) ways of getting the basic information required to efficiently spend the taxation that governments take from us.

> It's just too damned difficult.

The basic premise still stands: that if we want to have the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time, we need good data to permit its planning. Of course there are some cockups - anything that involves people (or governments) will inevitably go wrong - but that's no reason to say "therefore the whole thing is useless - there's no point even trying".

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Pete 2
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Re: yeah but what about the jobs...?

> a post-scarcity condition where every demand can be instantly met at no cost.

That only works for material things. As a society we all place great value on intangible things: time, choice, security, freedom, health (including a pleasant environment), knowledge and entertainment and some higher human functions such as recognition and respect. These cannot be manufactured and in some cases require the collaboration of those around us to achieve. Just as soon as one person's needs become dependent on the actions of another, you immediately find yourself back in a trade/barter situation where "what's in it for me" kicks in and you find you have to give up something you have in order to obtain something you value more.

That immediately brings cost back into the game.

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Pete 2
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How to plan central planning

> the centre of that system can never actually access all of the required information ...to be able to plan effectively.

When it comes to the big things, like making sure there are the right number of hospitals, schools, roads and police-officers, the gummint does a pretty good job. The decadal national census is specifically to allow these sorts of things to be done, based on actual data, rather than a few middle-class activists with placards, not wanting their bitsy-little rural hospital closed - giving way to whoever shouts loudest getting the most and best infrastructure.

We also see what happens when things are left to "the market": large areas of towns and cities that have no bank branches: where people have to travel miles simply to draw cash (and if you're elderly and reliant on public transport - this is more than a mere inconvenience). Another example would be TV programming. Economic theory tells us that the most efficient way for similar products or services to compete is for them to cluster together: either geographically which is why the best place to open a restaurant is next to another one, or by providing similar "stuff" which is why all the popular TV stations seem to all show the same sort of programmes, rather than providing diversity and choice.

For some aspects of our lives, competition and capitalism work well. They allow new products, things people actually want, to flourish and for the turkeys to die off. However, some things need either the investment that only state-sized financing can provide, are a public benefit but would never be a profitable prospect or need the hand of judicious regulation to stop the public getting stiffed. If you want to see the problems that raw commercialism can unleash - just look at american mobile phone or TV provision.

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DIME for your TOP SECRET thoughts? Son of Snowden's crypto-chatter client here soon

Pete 2
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Re: One Tip...

> Dark Mail...ooo evil baddies, kiddie porrn, drugs, terrorist.

Yes, you're right. It's far too close to Daily Mail with which no self-respecting ... well .... anyone would wish to be associated.

As it is, I still feel that "secure" email is missing a trick.

We already know that a degree of intelligence can be obtained simply by knowing that there is a message being sent (and who the sender + recipients are). High-level secure comms have long used the technique of keeping the channel full at all times, whether or not it's sending anything that decrypts successfully. (And a decent encryption system would be indistinguishable from random noise.)

So a secure email system would send each subscriber the same amount of "stuff" each day (note: to each recipient oin the users "circle" - they wouldn't know who anyone else was) and require each user to send it the same amount of traffic, too . Sometimes it would decrypt as "this is not an email" and sometimes it would decrypt as "they're coming to take you away (ha ha!)". Either way, the baddies who wished to eavesdrop would not know whether the content was signal or noise until after they'd spent some significant resource cracking the message. Multiple that up by (say) a million users and the surveillance soon becomes too onerous and too costly.

Further refinements are possible, but the basic concept has been best practice for a long, long time and should be included in any modern secure comms methodology.

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PwC says US biz lagging in Internet of Things

Pete 2
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Strangelove

> the US (says PwC) is the laggard

Sounds like we have an IoT gap.

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Crypto Daddy Phil Zimmerman says surveillance society is DOOMED

Pete 2
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Re: He talks a good talk

> Let's not give up the benefits of our hard-won progress

Agreed. The big difference in that hygiene, education and health (or their lack) were pre-existing conditions that were "fixed" by the progress you correctly identify. It would seem that privacy (and the concomitant shame and embarrassment from it's failure) was a social norm that arose after adoption of walls, doors and curtains. Rather than the desire for privacy being the driving force for those changes.

Consequently, while we all are used to privacy as we were brought up to expect and respect it, it may be that it's not a basic desire for social animals (unlike good health). Although those same animals don't have abusive, exploitative, over-seers policing their every action and increasingly suppressing behaviour that falls outside a narrowing definition of "normal" - and it's that which is the problem.

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Pete 2
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He talks a good talk

But, sadly, he's wrong

> surveillance state to an historical anachronism

Actually, for most of recorded history people have lived in small communities where everyone knew everyone elses' business. They all knew who you'd visited, they all knew what you spent your time doing (as most people spent all the daylight hours outside, since there was no artificial light) and who was doing what to whom.

It's only since people had their own houses (not shared with their entire extended family) and had curtains to draw that we think we've got "privacy". It's also only since that time that we have things that we consider "private". In the days before doors, nobody cared who they heard shagging: so long as it wasn't their partner or livestock.

The big difference is that nowadays nobody seems to have the ability to keep what they know, hear, think or imagine to themselves. Every single little, irrelevant detail simply has to be tweeted, blogged, updated or recorded in order to bore the bollocks off future historians.

And that IS where the surveillance society kicks in. Since we now live in a time when public enemy #1 is the public, all these little tidbits can easily be collected together, filtered to remove any and all context and used to build a case for pretty much anything against pretty much anyone. That's the modern fear: not being accused of witchcraft or heresy - but being accused of the modern-day equivalents: terrorism, sexual deviancy, race/religious/gender hate - or even simply knowing the wrong things.

it's not the surveillance that's the problem. It's the way it's used to turn us all back into serfs. That's the problem.

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Twitter can trigger psychosis in users

Pete 2
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Re: what's that old axiom?

> how do they rule out occasional drug use as not a factor?

Summat like this, perhaps?

Puff - "How do you feel now?" "I'm fine, doctor ... doctor ... doctor ... doctor ... doctor."

Tweet - "how do you feel now? (in unison)" "Kill 'em all"

Maybe the actual report's original title was

Twitter can trigger Psychoanalysis in Users.

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Pete 2
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How many doctors does it take to change a twitter user?

> A study ... based on the case ... the five doctors wrote.

Which reminds me of the old joke:

"Doctor, doctor! When I wave my arms over my head, I get a pain in my neck."

and the doctor replies: "Well stop waving your arms over your head. <ding> Next patient please."

Really. Do they have nothing better to do?

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Everyone's an IoT expert but now there's a certificate to prove it

Pete 2
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Certifiable training

> Cisco says the new certification is needed ...

... to make money. And as the IoT hasn't been either defined or developed yet, whatever is taught in this year's course will be completely irrelevant next year or next month. So the same gullible bosses who let their staff go on the jolly valuable learning experience, combined with time off work, will just have to shell-out again for another course (presumably with the word "advanced" in the title) at a later date - whenever someone fancies a paid break in whichever desirable location takes their fancy.

I mean, you'd be mad not to.

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Cor blimey: Virgin Media pipes 152Mb fibre to 100,000 East Londoners

Pete 2
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Never mind the bandwith

> its 152Mb broadband service

I wonder how many customers on this service are completely unaware that no matter how often they upgrade, their internet speed will still be limited by their so-much-slower Wifi connection?

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Who will kill power companies? TESLA, says Morgan Stanley

Pete 2
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Careful what you wish for

> ever greater incentives for customers to adopt solar, thus leaving utilities with the potential long-term issue of losing a significant portion of their customer base

But this is precisely what governments (at least, those in western europe) are doing. We get offers for free or highly subsidised home insulation, we get green surcharges tacked onto our energy bills, we get (OK: got) subsidised PV feed-in tariffs.

All in order to reduce national CO2 outputs to meet a target - a target that most other countries seem to be ignoring, never signed up to in the first place or that they'll miss by miles / decades.

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Operators get the FEAR as Ofcom proposes 275% hike in mobile spectrum fees

Pete 2
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The impossible tax

> the fees that UK mobile networks pay

in other words, a government tax.

One that won't hit the operators, as they will all have been taxed equally, so when they pass it on to the subscribers (shocker!) they will all raise their tariffs equally and therefore the "competitiveness" won't change. Sure, there may be some jostling, so one supplier will raise the cost per minute, while another will raise the cost per megabyte (and no doubt, surreptitiously slip in a little extra for themselves) but if their costs go up, there's only one outcome - and that's another dip into our wallets.

So, all this does is take money from the public (and businesses) and transfer it, via the mobile operators who will simply be acting as tax-collectors, to the government. They will then congratulate themselves on keeping income tax low - even though it's generally considered a "progressive" tax: that takes more from those who can afford it - and raising indirect taxes which affect the rich and the poor alike - unless the poor stop using their phones and thereby avoid (oooh, there's a nasty term) paying the freshly raised tax on talking.

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ICANN can't hand over Iran's internet, bomb victims told

Pete 2
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A fine idea

I don't think the USA wants to dip its toe into who "owns" TLDs. And it really doesn't want to enable their seizure as compensation. Especially as the US embassy in London owes £7 Mil in unpaid fines.

That sound you can hear? Boris rubbing his hands

ref: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-23266149

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Thirteen Astonishing True Facts You Never Knew About SCREWS

Pete 2
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Re: The unanswered question

> Rings you up crying when they are drunk?

Ahhh, but not if you take precautions before having sex.

Precautions like giving a false name and a bogus phone number

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Pete 2
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The unanswered question

Nice article.

Though I was disappointed there was no explanation about why a dropped screw *always* finds its way either into the deepest, darkest crevice or is attracted by the universe's strongest force which ensures it ends up electrically shorting the two most sensitive (and expensive) exposed current-carrying pieces of metal in the room?

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Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH

Pete 2
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Just to make it interesting

What we need now is a race.

If yachts can mount round the world races, there should be scope for HAB-ers (?) to do the same. Hopefully at much lower cost.

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4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles

Pete 2
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Cut or compress

There are two ways to reduce the quality of TV.

You can either fill up the airspace with cheap, crap programmes that nobody watches and repeats that are repeatedly repeated -- or -- you can compress the crap out of the signals until you are left with blocky, distorted pictures and sound that nobody watches, but for different reasons.

At present we are still in the infancy of digital TV and are only just starting to realise that "choice" is not all it's cracked up to be. It appears that "choice" means watching this prime-time soap, or that one - or watching the Commonwealth games on either BBC1 or BBC3, or a celebrity quiz or a celebrity reality show. The quantity has increased, but the breadth has not.

If there is to be a "crunch" where the frequencies available for TV is greatly reduced, we may well find that viewers are not willing to put up with both bad programmes and poor picture quality. At that point, it might just happen that broadcasters start to offer a greater variety of programmes that are low-bandwidth friendly - such as without the fast scene-changes or lots of action that programme makers edit in to programmes to give the impression of quality, dynamism and attractiveness.

Though I can't ever see them axing all the repeats.

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Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees

Pete 2
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Re: No Surprise

> there is no such thing as climate science

You'd be surprised how many people study things that don't exist.

For a start: philosophy. You can't point to it or observe any side-effects of its existence (or not, he said - getting all philosophical). Art is another one that exists only in the mind of the individual, yet everyone has an opinion of it and lots and lots (too many?) of degrees are awarded in it every year,

Finally, there's history: which the renowned (and gorgeous) tudor historian Suzannah Lipscomb has gone on telly to tell us is: "the study of something that doesn't exist"

So simply because something doesn't exist is no reason why people shouldn't dedicate their lives (and lots of other people's money) to its' study. After all, if something doesn't exist; nothing you say about it can be wrong, can it?

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Pete 2
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Tax attacks

> some consensus as to what is really happening.

What is really happening is that the government has identified a "thing" that the general public believe in and that they believe it is a bad thing -- one that should be stopped.

In other words, reducing carbon emissions is not only popular but taxable too - as british governments only know one way to curb "bad" behaviour: booze, ciggies, CO2: and that's to tax it.

If that new revenue stream just happens to avert a global crisis while raising loads-a-lolly? So much the better, they can take full credit for that, as well

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Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)

Pete 2
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Amortise

> Rocket Lab's low-cost launcher ... will cost less than $5m

So if a single launcher can be built for $5 Mil, how much are the development costs going to be - and what happens to the cost-of-launch if the project can't fling 100 units a year into the sky?

I haven't a clue what it would cost to develop a new, commercial launcher from scratch - but lets make a WAG¹ at about $1Bn (which sounds incredibly low - you'd think NASA would have new launchers coming out of it's ... if they were that cheap to design and develop). then over 10 years his repayments will be about $10 M per month at 5%. So at 100 launches a year, that's a smidge over $1M per launch in finance costs. And then there's all the overheads, on top.

Personally, I'm skeptical.

[1] Wild Assed Guess - the foundation of all government, economic and commercial proposals

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LOHAN's stirring motto: Ad Astra Tabernamque

Pete 2
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MMXIV or 11111011110

Don't forget to add the date so when the future archaeologists dig up the bits that went missing, they'll at least know when little plastic people first tried to invade colonise the stratosphere

Footnote: Oh look. Next year (2015) is a mirror image year 11111011111

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'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter

Pete 2
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Expect nothing less

... when you have policing by keyword detection.

The basic problem is that there is such a hair-trigger approach and such a complete over-reaction. No doubt this will tick the counter for "the police service foiled X computer related terror plots". And since there is no such thing as a trivial cyber-crime incident, that this will be filed in the reports along with other "mastermind" and "criminal genius" (compared to the skills of yer avrige detective) records.

Though I suppose that in the land of the plod, the one-fingered typist is king.

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Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in

Pete 2
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Not what the plan said

> It is 25 July, and that means it's Systems Administrators Appreciation Day

It was scheduled to be March 31st, but somehow it kept getting delayed.

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NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'

Pete 2
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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

In the spirit of the question, I reckon the answer:

"Anyone? No!"

is both strictly true and suitably vague.

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Pete 2
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We know, you know.

> Yet I have often wondered at that peculiar question...

> “Tell me about your Turkish connections.”

It's simple enough. All it means is that they already knew who you were, where you had been and that information had triggered a request for a spook to "spook" you at the airport with a seemingly random (ha!) check. They already had your description. They already knew you'd been to some place that shared a border with Iraq. The "stop" wasn't random and the question about Turkey was a pre-planned, gentle reminder for you, that you were on their radar.

Your answer was irrelevant as the message (we know you) had already been delivered. That's all it was about.

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Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves

Pete 2
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Re: OzLaw

> They will be the first to follow the USA in that regard

I would agree, except that the USA has stumbled upon an unusual "safeguard" against this sort of thing. They have constructed a form of government with two "houses". One is generally "ruled" by one faction and the other house is normally ruled by the other. They also have a president who (apart from being able to, allegedly, press a big red button) is essentially a figurehead - who spends most of his (or maybe next time: her) time in office either repaying election promises, or trying to get re-elected - and for 2 years out of every 4 year term, is impotent as it takes more than that time to get a law through both of their houses.

The upshot being that for all their commercial power, military might and media dominance, they stand little chance of actually changing anything within their own political system. Which could be why their companies, military and financial systems have become so powerful.

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Pete 2
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OzLaw

Whenever I read an article about some new law "down under", I'm left with the lasting impression that their government makes some startlingly bad (for it's citizens and for liberty, in general) decisions for all the wrong reasons - and enacts laws that are some of the most restrictive in the free world.

Will Oz be the first country to slide, gradually from democracy to totalitarianism? Will it even be a willing journey made with little protest or remark, until it's all too late?

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Experts gathered round corpse of PC market: It's ALIVE! Alive, we tell you

Pete 2
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Re: Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

> Where the bagel have you been?

I've been here, safe in PC-Land.

As for Mac's, I consider them a bit like Herpes: lots of people talk about it but almost nobody has any direct experience of it. And long may it stay like that! <g>

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Pete 2
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Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

Over 80 million PCs shipped!

No, that's not last year's (2013) total - that's just the last quarter.

Since we know that when they ship 16 million units a year, nobody talks about the demise of the Mac market [ source: macworld.com ], we can safely say that the PC market could shrivel by 95% and it would still be bigger than that.

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White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!

Pete 2
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Fun and games with numbers and their meaning

Strictly speaking, in america, MEN are a minority.

in the United States — 143.4 million of whom were female and 138.1 million male

However, regarding race and recruitment. One issue is that a company can only recruit from the applicants it gets. So apart from looking at the diversity of people actually in the company, any properly conducted research should also consider the make-up of the people who apply for the advertised positions (if it's even possible, moral or legal to have that information - if not, you can't really draw many worthwhile conclusions).

If the same proportion of young, white, males in jobs is the same as the proportion who apply for jobs, the disqualification is being applied elsewhere - not in the recruitment or retention policies. Simply put, the whole issue is far to complex to be summarised in a headline, a Powerpoint presentation, or maybe even by the little brains of the H.R. department.

It may be, for example, that many people from diverse backgrounds don't actually want to work for Twitter.

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You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary

Pete 2
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Todays "reminder" leads to tomorrows prosecution

> nag subscribers when their accounts appear to have been used to access pirated material.

This might sound laughably ineffective now. However, laws change. We also have some insidious situations where people are threatened with prosecution for things that weren't illegal in the past. There are now cases where (retrospective) legislation is in place to "recover" taxes from people who legally managed to avoid paying it in the past.

[ref: http://metro.co.uk/2012/02/27/retrospective-law-sets-a-dangerous-path-3822883 ]

What's to stop the same thing happening with this - especially as the government appears to be giving this initiative its blessing?

We know that BIG MEDIA cares little about justice (except the "justice" of getting paid) and it's not inconceivable that all those "nags" you collected in the past and laughed about, could magically, when enough political donations have been made, be turned into retroactive laws that bite you in the nuts.

It wouldn't take much for a public campaign, along the lines of "minimising your tax bill is bad" metamorphosing into "avoiding the right amount of tax is illegal" to change "you really shouldn't be downloading all this stuff" into "Kerrr-ching. Here's a back-dated bill for all that stuff you've stolen P.S. We'll take your house - or the ISP account holder's house - if you don't pay".

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