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* Posts by Pete 2

2286 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

The Raspberry Pi: Is it REALLY the saviour of British computing?

Pete 2
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Re: Bogosity @Pete

> And if you think an A20 is so much better, and the boards so much better designed, well, try some benchmarks

OK. RPi BogoMIPS = 700 or thereabouts

Olimex A20 BogoMIPS = 1800 a Cubieboard2 with the same spec scores bout the same, provided you have CPU clock scaling turned off.

root@A20:~# cat /proc/cpuinfo

Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 4 (v7l)

processor : 0

BogoMIPS : 1816.97

processor : 1

BogoMIPS : 1823.52

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Pete 2
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Bogosity

Despite the oft repeated mantra about teaching children, it's clear that the Pi is completely inadequate for use in an educational environment. Especially when most UK schools (and that's what we're talking about, not some third-world location) have PCs coming out of their ears. If you want to teach programming, drop some educational software on a PC and just get on with it - with the kit you already have.

No. What we see with most of the million-sold Pis - at least the ones that generate publicity - is a split between children using them to play games, people trying to pimp their cars with an on-board "PC" and the home enthusiast who sees it as a cheap way to run XBMC. There are a small minority of experimenters who get an LED to flash and a smaller minority who write some original software - a tiny proportion of whom go on to contribute something new and useful to the community.

However, any serious home SBC-hacker will already have moved on to one of the A20 boards that are so much more powerful and better designed.

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In a meeting with a woman? For pity's sake DON'T READ THIS

Pete 2
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A Get Out of Jail card

I suspect the reason a lot of people take calls while in meetings is that they are hoping the call will provide them with an excuse to leave.

Most meetings are irrelevant to most of the participants, serve little or no purpose (except to share responsibility for any decisions made - thereby muddying the waters about who's to blame for any cockups that arise) and have far too many attendees: most of whom know nothing about the topics on the agenda - if there even is one.

So yes, it is rude to take calls during meetings. But it's also rude to require the attendance of so many disinterested and unnecessary staff. So many meeting organisers consider the number of staff they can pull away from doing proper work as some sort of ego trip or empire building. A well-timed SMS can be the best way to get back to doing something useful.

Oddly, I have noticed that call-taking is a feature of the lower echelons. Among (truly) in control individuals: Cxx types, they hardly ever take calls while doing something else. While this may be because they have professional gatekeepers guarding access to them, because nobody has the balls fooishness to interrupt them or simply because they are better at organising their time, I cannot say. I do get the impression that they consider being interrupted a sign of weakness and lack of control. And of course, no other attendee would consider cutting *them* off to take a call. Maybe there should be a CEO present at every meeting?

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Why Bletchley Park could never happen today

Pete 2
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@ James Micallef

> permanent war is required by politicians

Although it's worth noting that the British armed forces have been on active deployment somewhere on the planet every year since 1948.

As for the original piece:

> The expiry period for such secrets is a bit shorter these days:

There are secrets and there are secrets. I am sure, though based on no evidence, that what gets leaked to the public, or gets its whistle blown,is only the tip of the iceberg compared to all the stuff that does stay behind closed doors.

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Obama to Merkel: No Americans are listening to you on this call

Pete 2
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Highest honour

Surely the leaders who weren't spied on should be the ones who are outraged. The conclusion would be that they weren't worth the effort.

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It's the '90s all over again: Apple repeats mistakes as low-cost tablets pile up

Pete 2
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Diversify

The Apple "brand" is known to be high price, high status. If it tries to introduce cheap products, it will devalue the whole line and lose its cachet. (Just as you don't see a budget-priced Rolls-Royce).

The solution would be for Apple to open a second line: extolling the virtues of "It's still an Apple", but with its own branding, style, lower prices and possibly less ornamental value.

If they did that skillfully, it wouldn't canabalise their premium offerings as it would address a different market. After all if Unilever can manage to market both Persil and Surf, you'd think that Apple could work out how to sell iPads and <some-other>Pads.

The only question is: would it have to start suing it's own arse off for patent infringements?

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BBC to spaff £18 MILLION of licence fee cash... on BIG DATA

Pete 2
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They're learning

> £18m ... for a three-year Next Generation Digital Analytics

So £6M year. That makes it large enough to be noticed, yet small enough to be able to bury in the detail when it all goes terribly wrong.

Hopefully they haven't made the beginner's error of stating up-front what benefits they hope to get from this (or even worse: having some measurable targets). However it all sounds airy-fairy enough that they'll be able to take whatever this collection of buzzwords produces and say that that's what they expected to get from it.

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'Donkey-tugging' EU data protection law backed by MEPs

Pete 2
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delete the pointer

> it is very difficult to completely remove potentially offensive or upsetting material

Consider a name to be a pointer to a structure containing all the online material about an individual.

There seems to be a lot of scope for a person to change their name and leave all that old stuff behind. So what if "Fred Smith" has been tagged in lots of FB photos, banned from every forum west of the Caucasus and #FredSmith has made several career-limiting comments about certain types of people - or politicians.

A quick name change, moustache, new accounts, a (very) limited migration of email contacts and a ceremonial burning of his/her/its old PC and as a musician might say: viola! Fred Symthe comes into the online world - reborn, fresh, all slates wiped clean. All the old stuff is still there, but now orphaned and so long as the moustache stays in place or the prosthetic nose doesn't fall off, should stay that way.

I can see this become a right of passage and possibly even a very popular 18th birthday present (and again: post-graduation, prior to trying one's luck in the job/partner markets).

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Ryanair boss Mike O'Leary hits Twitter: 'Nice pic. Phwoaaarr!'

Pete 2
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Backfire

As with politicians, the more you engage with them, the greater is their feeling of validation. It doesn't matter what you say - all they take away from the encounter is "these people all care".

So criticising him or RA just adds fuel to his fire - as well as giving him a load of twitter idents for free, to spam in the future.

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Unsupervised Brit kids are meeting STRANGERS from the INTERNET

Pete 2
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Good advice

> Bringing the family computer into the living room

... for 1995. However technology, mobile phones and tablets have rendered it useless (and you have to question the clued-in-ness of those people still offering this sort of advice).

Basically, telling children about abstract threats doesn't work. Even getting them to pay attention to simple road-crossing instructions is hard. Consequently telling them that the internet is full of baddies, when they know from their first-hand experience that it isn't just kills your credibility.

Maybe what we need are a few modern-day fairy tales. Stuff like the original Grimm Bros. material: cooking children in ovens and the like (Hansel & Gretel, before it got watered down). Though since kids are so inured to "horror" from zombie-TV, video games and modern media, it's difficult to know what would induce enough fear of strangers, without scarring the little darlings for life.

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UK's tech capital named: Read it and weep, Tech City startup hipsters

Pete 2
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Small pond

.. and some fish. That doesn't make it "fishier" that a larger pond with proportionately fewer fish.

However, following the same statistical misdirection that only accountants would consider valid - OK, maybe lawyers, too - , I nominate my house as a technological hotspot since every worker there is in IT.

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What the CUFF? Nokia shows how a smartwatch really OUGHT to work

Pete 2
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Re: tension sheet

> If Apple can patent ...

Maybe I should submit a patent application for A method of ascertaining the current time using audio tokens and social interaction

I.E. ask someone.

(Though I'm unclear how I'd go about enforcing the patent and collecting royalties. More thought needed.)

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Pete 2
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Unimaginitive

The bracelet features six screens, ...

A true "how a smartwatch ought to work" would monitor your brainwaves and detect when you wanted to know the time, then stimulate the correct neurons with the required information.

Anything less is barely an improvement on a 500 year-old fob watch.

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

Pete 2
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That slight "ding" in the door

> “a very advanced nanomaterial” is embedded in the resin, which is sealed in between two layers of carbon fibre to form a “super capacitor”.

... now turns into a major cost. I don't think the local "dent removers" will be able to deal with this one.

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Microsoft holds nose, shoves Windows into Android, iOS boxes

Pete 2
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Old word, new meanings?

> The fact that you don't have to install a 3rd party client to a PC is awesome

So now awesome means sensible?

> I've Remote Desktop'd home, and it just works. This is awesome but I bet it'll cause some security risks.

and now it means, what? nice, surprise, expected, shocking, insecure?

Maybe the trick is to completely ignore any sentence that contains the word, since it appears to have so many meanings. As Harry Nilsson¹ might have suggested "A meaning in every direction is the same as no meaning at all"

[1] The Point, album release: 1971

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MEGA ASTEROID could 'BLOW UP EARTH' - Russian space boss

Pete 2
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The lesser evil

> only two bodies yet found that may threaten Earth

The other being whichever "body" has his finger on the big red button?

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Do not adjust your set: TV market slows, 'connected TV' grows

Pete 2
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Go on, then.

> It is always annoying when forecasters fail to forecast disruption

The article goes to great lengths to describe what is already happening. So, since tablets are a given and internet connected TVs, essentially tablets, with a sensibly sized screen and decent sound are nothing new - where's the disruptive technology the author is so keen for forecasters to forecast?

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Can you trust 'NSA-proof' TrueCrypt? Cough up some dough and find out

Pete 2
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Audit the source? Nobody *runs* the source, they run binaries

> why an audit of TrueCrypt is needed and arguably even overdue

And as soon as the developers come up with a new version, the auditing needs to be all over again.

However, what's worse is if someone brings out a TrueCrypt virus. One that only attacks that particular program and inserts a backdoor into installed copies (or some other binary it depends on). You can have audited source - but that's no use if the environment the program is running on is insecure and is therefore open to having the binary attacked, post-audit.

The only audit that a user could trust would be of an entire system: O/S, applications+libraries and TrueCrypt. Then as soon as any of those are changed, upgraded or patched, the whole audit becomes invalidated. Oh, and as for proprietary binary-only drivers, codecs or libraries: don't even think about installing them.

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Price rises and power cuts by 2016? Thank the EU's energy policy

Pete 2
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Re: Cloud cuckoo land thinking...

> why on earth would I believe an energy sector player when they tell me they are going to close gas plants by 2016?

Simply put. They are running a business. If the cost of running that business, or factory, or power station, is greater than the profit they make from running it, they'll close it. Why would they do otherwise? It's a free country and manufacturers are under no obligation to supply electricity or any other product. They will only do so if there's monkey to be made.

We have heard the same warnings from car makers, steel plants, coal mines and many, many other parts of what old-timers used to call "british industry". They all closed. Electricity generation will stop, too, if a regulated market gets in the way of supply-and-demand and makes it unprofitable.

There's no rule that says we *have* to be supplied with electricity, on demand, whenever we want, in whatever quantity we please. And just because we've had (largely) interrupted supplies for the past 100 years - that's no reason to suppose that they will go on forever. Up until recently it has been profitable for generators to make electricity and to sell it to us. That it's strategically important and without it you're looking at a cold and wet version of Angola: generating capacity: 1.16GW - though ravaged by war, rather than stupidity,

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Pete 2
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A british thing?

So why doesn't the UK do what every other EU country does why faced with a directive it doesn't like? ignore it?

Most EU countries take a healthy, skeptical, pragmatic approach to EU "law". If it's in their favour (e.g. fishing rights) they embrace it and extol its virtues. If it is to their disadvantage they say "it doesn't apply to us" or "it's discriminatory", "we can't do it in time" or just do .... nothing.

Laws anywhere, at any level, only work with the acquiesence of the subjects it's applied to. If they give it a gallic shrug, or a british V sign there's not much anyone else can do. It only seems to be in Britiain that everyone goes into a bit of a tizz and says "but it's the law" without realising that laws only work if people obey them and that our representatives helped shape them - and if it's to our detriment, they obviously didn't do a very good job of politicking.

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

Pete 2
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Re: Do they know what ''science'' means ?

> Economics is not a science, the closest that it gets is to be a branch of psychology.

That's probably true, since economics is tightly bound to the motivations people have for doing things - and it's not always about money. And, like any subject that has to add the suffix "science" (just like countries that call themselves "democratic" or "the people's ... "), almost certainly isn't.

However, that doesn't mean it is irrelevant to how we live and has nothing to contribute. Have a read of some of Tim Harford's books: The Undercover Economist being a good start: not only entertaining but easy reading. And if you want to know why oral sex is becoming so popular, read his second paperback, TLoL.

[ Disclaimer: I am not Tim Harford and he is not me ]

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I'll call for UK law shakeup to cuff global web crime lords - new top cyber cop

Pete 2
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Jobs for the boys?

It's not the job of a policeman to say we need more laws. Just like it's not the job of a doctor to call for more illnesses. Obviously, the more laws there are, the greater the need for enforcement and therefore the more police - so the self-interest is apparent.

Although it's unfashionable to say so, the job of government is to say what should be legal and what deserves having your front door smashed in at 6 a.m. It's the job of the police to do that smashing, not to choose who's doors.

As for The vast majority of those we're really interested in are overseas, well good: let it stay there. Not our problem.

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On the road with an IT ball-gazer: Forget big data, the future of tech is the 'social enterprise'

Pete 2
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The perennial question

> businesses will soon need to make the transformation into the Social Enterprise

OK, that extrapolates existing trends. But it will only continue if someone works out how to make money from it. So, the question is: how do people make money from Social Enterprise?

I think we can discount (even more, or targeted) advertising. The more you push unwanted advertisements into peoples' faces, the less they will use a service. What does that leave? Historically we know that after every expansion comes a correction. Maybe the near-future (the next 10 years) sees social media implode under it's own unsupportable weight and the realisation that it's really a bust, since it offers no value.

Personally, I reckon that the next big thing will be something new (like the internet was). Something that few, if any, can foresee - and that nobody thinking about it today is able to determine the consequences of. We probably won't even realise it's "the next big thing" for several years after it's kicked off. Which opens the possibility that it's already here.

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Boffins build BEELLION-YEAR storage medium

Pete 2
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Will come in handy

> Cat videos will outlast humanity

when cats evolve an opposable thumb, turn into Kzinti and take over the world.

Will they waste their civilisations away watching endless videos of humans?

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Leveson: My Whingers' Charter™ is PERFECT, you impudent MPs

Pete 2
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Wouldn't it be nice

If newspapers and TV reports simply stuck to telling us the unassailable facts, rather than filling their pages or 24*7 broadcasts with gossip, opinion, innuendo, criticism or value judgments.

It would certainly save a lot of newsprint.

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Rubbish broadband drives Scottish people out of the Highlands

Pete 2
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Tell me again, why is this a problem?

> There is now evidence of people leaving rural communities to live in urban areas ... due to a lack of connectivity ... due to lack of access to higher education, affordable housing or employment

Basically, the (ex) inhabitants of these regions are moving away because they can get a better quality of life elsewhere. That's a good thing, surely!

There's nothing sacred about being able to live in the same town where you were born or grew up. People always move about (sometimes to "get on their bikes ... ") and improve their lives by doing so. What the government should be doing is encouraging mobility: making housing and jobs available in the locations where people want to live. Building homes that people can afford to buy or rent and ensuring there are enough schools, shops, hospitals and roads in those places.

There's little point spending £££s installing broadband if the population has all buggered off due to a lack of schools, shops or decent houses.

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NHS tears out its Oracle Spine in favour of open source

Pete 2
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Re: hold on a moment

The crucial word is "directly". You can't say the government hasn't learned from it's past mistakes. This time the cash will be channeled through all sorts of intermediaries, shell companies and sub-contracts. That way it will be impossible for anyone to say for sure how much was wasted spent.

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Pete 2
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Consistency, above all

> Spine, which was one of the two successful components

So they've identified one of the successes in their ill-fated adventure and have decided to mess with it. I suppose that will, at least, bring it into line with all the other badly designed, poorly managed and hopelessly implemented projects.

At least by using free (OK Open Source: not the same, blah! blah ....) software, the cost of this failure will be a lot less.

[postscript. to increase the flexibility of the system ... one of the largest backbone systems for NHS IT is this really an attribute you want in a spine - or are we talking snakes? ]

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NASA Juno probe HOWLS past Earth - and goes into HIBERNATION

Pete 2
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That's why there are no aliens

It's the incessant babble of our radio (and TV, for those people who don't realise that, technically speaking, they are the same) transmissions which sends any spacecraft that is unlucky enough to be exposed to them into a safe mode. Where "safe" would mean putting as many light-years as possible between itself and the source.

Maybe the good book doesn't say Mostly harmless. Could the entry really read: Stay away, for your own sanity.

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Meg Whitman asks HPers to drag their asses into the office

Pete 2
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Re: HPs problem

> Cancelling WFH also screams "I don't trust my employees!",

It could equally mean "We made a mistake. We tried an experiment and it didn't produce the results we expected". Which *could* be a heartening sign that there is humility somewhere in the upper echelons.

It's also possible that the top brass *did* trust the employees (to do the work without supervision), but that the employees betrayed that trust and goofed around all the time, instead of working.

Heard once: you can work from home, but if you come back in with a suntan, you're fired.

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Pete 2
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Re: More than just doing the job

A big part, possibly the biggest part, of working in a team is spreading the knowledge. For an individual, sitting in a darkened room hacking away, writing 1,000 lines per day (or whatever measure of productivity - if not quality - you employ) may well get the job done. However, as the AC below illustrates perfectly: that's all it does. You may well ask "but what more is there?" to which the reply would be: Spreading the knowledge. Growing the team. Letting others benefit from your specialities and you from theirs.

The ex-iBMer illustrates this perfectly. Sure, the immediate problem got fixed (in record time: respect is due). But that's all that happened. The knowledge was still locked away in one person's head - so the next time a similar problem crops up, there's still only 1 person who could deal with it.

That might be good in the short-term, but it's no way to build a knowledgable and cohesive team: one that will pull together, help each other out and generally be worth more than the sum of their parts. Some of that can be done electronically, but the unstructured, chance meetings and conversations can't. The "whatcha doin? -- hey that looks like something Fred was trying last week - You should go talk to ... they had a guy in with a solution to that " conversations don't happen when each "professional" is (metaphorically) locked away in their own little world. Likewise, people can't ask you for help - it's too easy to fob them off or ignore their emails. Professionalism is as much about the good of the team as delivering your own personal goals.

That's what working with other, similarly talented, people lets you do, that you can't do on your own. It's also something that not many companies recognise as having value.

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Pete 2
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More than just doing the job

> the more employees we get into the office the better

Can't argue with that. There are two aspects to being a professional: doing the stuff youve been told to do and being a part of the company. The first can usually be done from anywhere and home working is a good solution for that. However, the second part does require human contact with colleagues. It is necessary for the chance meetings, the networking and the social interaction / bonding needed to turn a group of people into a team.

Having said that, in any company there will always be a proportion of employees who's biggest contribution to the success of the company is to shut the hell up and not touch anything. For these individuals, home working should not only be allowed, it should be mandatory.

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Brit boson boffin Higgs bags Nobel with eponymous deiton

Pete 2
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Mr Blue Sky

> I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research

I hope so, too. But given the hopelessness of the BBC's "explanation" of what the HB does (a video insert on their coverage of the award) I think trying to get the media to explain abstract ideas - and physics in particular - is a lost cause.

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Digital 'activists' scramble to build Silk Road 2.0, but drug kingpins are spooked

Pete 2
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Go with it

Possibly the biggest lesson for anyone comtemplating a secure or anonymised internet (dark or light) for any sort of transactions: legal, financial or various shades of naughty, is to design it such that no part of it touches the USA.

If 5% of the world wants to build a wall around themselves, the other 95% should let 'em.

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Young? Been online five years? Congrats, you are the ELITE MINORITY

Pete 2
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Re: FIVE years?

> Hell I had already had email in one form or another for 10 years by that point!

Eeee, them 'twere the days.

When you could tell a person's true status by the number of hops they were from ucbvax

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Pete 2
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The "experience" experience

> five or more years' experience using the internet

That seems to be to be measuring the wrong thing.

A child who's spent the past 5 years goofing around on Facebook and Twitter is incomparable to one who started using a computer at age 13 and now runs a successful web business. Just as a brit who's been living in Spain for 5 years, red-nosed from the cheap booze, too much sunshine and days spent reading the Daily Mail in a bar all day is no match for one who has spent the same duration in the country and is fluent in the language and is a fully functioning member of the local society.

When you start looking at skill-level or achievements, duration or time spent is misleading. It's results that count.

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Police constable 1337 stunned by Lego lookalike

Pete 2
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I told you ...

> Police constable 1337 stunned by Lego lookalike

... to be careful where you point that TASER

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The life of Pi: Intel to give away Arduino-friendly 'Galileo' tiny-puter

Pete 2
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Re: On board flash means it can be bricked, unlike Raspberry Pi where all storage is on SD

> Would those who have downvoted Daniel care to explain

He wrote something that could be construed as criticism of the RPi.

Around here that's an automatic downvoted from the Look Mum, I can make a LED flash on and off brigade. (As mother silently weeps into a hanky: 14 years of education and 10s of thousands of £££'s in raising the child, all for that ...).

Even worse, in the very next thread he intimates that something else could possibly be better.

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Pete 2
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Two stools

So what is it?

It runs "sketches", so is it a more powerful (overly-powerful) Arduino competitor with rather high power requirements

It's got an x86 instruction set, 256MB of DDR3 RAM and PCI, so is it a PC - no mention of windows or Linux

It seems to me to fall between both.

If you're just going to run embedded code with no O/S, there are better, smaller, (probably) cheaper and less power-hungry ways of doing it. If you are going to boot an O/S, there are smaller, more powerful, more capable (e.g. the dual-core 1GHz/1GB, SATA Cubieboard2) and (possibly) cheaper alternatives for that, too.

With either of these propositions, it's going to be the user created support that makes or breaks it. I wonder if anyone would port BeOS/Haiku to it?

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Basically RUBBISH 'COMET of the Century' ISON snapped by HiRISE in Mars orbit

Pete 2
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The media always hype this stuff

Every year we get some breathless pundit squealing with delight about a meteor shower with words like "fantasic", "spectacular" and whatever superlatives still have some life (if not credibillity) left in them. The same goes for comets, eclipses, conjuctions andall the rest. One budding journo picks up as astronomical announcement and exudes awe about it - that's picked up by another who embellishes the first's work - then another with more exaggeration and finally it hits the TV and we're all exhorted to view this "sight of the century" (which seems to occer every few years).

Almost all of them are a damp squib.

Whether that's because the uncertainy and qualifications that the original bulletin contain get left out for reasons of making the news "public friendly", or astronomers genuinely thought it would turn out better. However in the UK the main reasons seem to be the weather, the light pollution and TV presenters (and their script writers) who have no concept at all - none whatsoever - about how bright, or dim all of these events are.

We were "promised" a comet earlier this year - FAIL! Sure: it turned up on time, but it was a huge disappointment. Same goes for all theother ones since Halley, 25 years ago. Maybe the media should learn their lesson and just let it all go - though then they'd probably be inundated by calls from scared and ignorant viewers about "strange lights inthe sky". You can't win.

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You're either mighty brave or mighty stupid. So which is it, Twitter?

Pete 2
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Can a fail whale float?

Most web "phenomena" last a few years. They grow and grow, become the darling of the online press - then the wind changes and all their users desert them (sometimes helped by unpopular changes, managerial incompetence or the next "big thing" being bigger and thingier than they are). Twitter has had a good run and round about now you'd expect it to start sliding as the next generation of internet users dismiss Twitter as being "for old people".

So why go for an IPO? Possibly to staunch the slide. Buy up the competiton, or expand by aquisiton - or maybe just to cash out while there's still some money in Twitter as a going concern.

Either way, given the current climate there's no good time to float (or sink), but on the presumption that the financial situation won't be getting any better for some time, and that Twitter's shelf-life could be coming to the end, this would seem like a good time for them. Whether it's a good time for investors? No-one can say.

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British support for fracking largely unmoved by knowledge of downsides

Pete 2
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What was the question?

It would be handy to know what question gave rise to this result.

Was it a non-specific equiry about the abstract principle of extracting oil and/or gas - or was it a direct question about whether individuals would be "happy" to have this carried out withing ½ a mile of their homes, or their childrens' school?

I suspect the answers may vary considerably.

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Twitter IPO rumour-gasm latest: Sugar daddies told to not flog shares just yet

Pete 2
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Floating on the QE

At present the USA is keeping share prices high by "printing" $1Tn a year for quantitative easing - buying up their own bonds and keeping market prices high.

One assumes that Twitter want to dump as many shares as possible get their IPO done before this fount of artificially high prices dries up. So while they might be able to get $15Bn at current valuations, I don't need to take a bet (as all share dealing is, is a posh phrase for gambling) on whether or not it will stay high.

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All rivers flow into the sea: Apple holds TEN PER CENT of corporate America's dosh

Pete 2
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Is it just me ...

> American corporations held a total of about $1.48tn in cash as of June this year

So american businesses hold about $1.5 tril of cash, but america owes about 16.7 terabucks

Anyone else see a potential problem here?

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A £30,000, 295bhp 4G MODEM?!? Must be the Audi S3 Quattro, then

Pete 2
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Height of stupidity?

> lets you access Twitter, Facebook, email and texts while you are on the go,

We all thought that trying to send SMSs while driving was so dumb that nobody would need to be told not to try - but no, apparently the limit of human intelligence is lower than we thought.

Will we now need to be reminded that tweeting while driving is so blindingly stupid (for the driver to do) that each text should be automatically forwarded to the Darwin Awards assessors?

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Scientists to IPCC: YES, solar quiet spells like the one now looming CAN mean ICE AGES

Pete 2
Silver badge

Mark Twain was right

> The current 11-year peak in solar action... may presage a lengthy quiet period

And like everything to do with climate change, nobody can say for sure.

It seems that the quote attributed to him turns out to have some substance after all. For those who missed it::

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesome returns of conjectures out of such trifling investment of fact

or should that be his other one:

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please

Either way, it's a great spectator sport, just so long as I don't have to do anything until we *know* what is actually happening - and whether it is turning out good or bad.

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500 MEELLION PCs still run Windows XP. How did we get here?

Pete 2
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Re: Devils advocate: Why should anyone care?

> because a hell of a lot of work was done to mitigate the risks.

Indeed. I was one of the people doing it. However you don't get rewarded for problems that never happen - only for fixing the ones that do.

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Pete 2
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Devils advocate: Why should anyone care?

We had Y2k: lots of talk that aircraft would drop out of the sky, that the financial system would crash and burn, that shops would be emptied of food, that utilities would stop working. None of which happened.

Now people are being told that something as small as Microsoft no longer pestering them with updates to some old piece of software - updates they never bother applying, anyway - is a bad thing?

I expect that a lot of individuals won't even be aware that the end is nigh. I expect that a lot of companies simply consider PCs to be a commodity, like chairs or employees and will need to actually see something catch fire before they are willing to consider an abstract concept such as a lack of bug-fixes to be anywhere on their priority list.

On top of that, it's not as if they could just take a PC, apply some "stuff" to it and voila! the problem has gone. No, the hardware will need to be upgraded, possibly the software too - maybe even the peripherals (now many modern PCs have VGA ports, or parallel ports). So given that this lack of "support" won't actually stop anything running, whereas mitigating it will be (a) expensive and (b) disruptive, then sitting with your thumbs up your bum waiting to see what (if anything) happens, is a rational strategy.

That's certainly what I intend to do with the 3 "retired" XP computers that are now just instances that run under VirtualBox, if I need one of their applications, like Photoshop. I'm definitely not planning on spending £££'s upgrading that (legal copy). Or dropping cash on a copy of W7 or 8 to upgrade them, either.

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Ubuntu 13.10: Meet the Linux distro with a bizarre Britney Spears fixation

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Reversing Moore's Law

"Tell me what you want to do?"

"Email Susan and tell her I'll be 20 minutes late because of traffic".

That, 1000 times, that! (but who's Susan?) - though the email part becomes redundant, the "smarts" would just record your voice, filter out extraneous background noise and send that as the message.

You are absolutely correct though: even Google's voicey thing (can't speak for Apple, never seen/used it) has trouble - but I have used it to translate We skipped the light fandango/Turned cartwheels 'cross the floor/I was feeling kinda seasick/But the crowd called out for more into spanish. But in 20 years time, they won't have trouble doing what I envisaged. And it probably won't matter what your native language is, either.

Back in the mid 1970's there was a machine called the PERQ. It was marketed in the UK by ICL and did pretty much everything that users want from a machine today: GUI, mouse, networking, running stuff. If development into voice & face recognition had progressed as much as graphical software has and audio cards kept pace with graphics hardware - you could probably stare at your computer screen now it it would read your mind.

Instead we're bogged down with eye-candy written by some very clever programmers with extreme technical skills, but bugger all utility so far as designing a user interface goes.

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GCHQ's CESG CCP 4 UK GOV IT BFFs? LOL RTFA INFOSEC VIPs ASAP

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Obscurity for security

> If some project manager is insisting on unnecessary levels of paperwork & meetings, I suspect they're just making work to justify their existence rather than to benefit anyone.

Oh, without a doubt, yes.

But that's the beauty of "best practice", so long as there's always more you can do or ask for, you haven't achieved it. Hence organisations that are addicted to the idea of B/P (because they are so clueless) are so inefficient, slow and expensive.

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