1924 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 14:47 GMT
Just another streetlight
Predicting the "spectacular-lessness" of comets, meteor showers, eclipses, transits (of the non-Ford variety) and planetary conjunctions is prone to hype. Not so much because of what the astronomers, in their enthusiasm, say but in the way the inexperienced media go completely doolally when they have something extra-terrestrial to report.
So yes, hopefully this comet will be bright. Hopefully if won't be obscured by clouds for months on end. Hopefully it won't be washed out by the full moon or by being too close to the sun in the sky. However, for the vast majority of people even the moon at its brightest has to compete with thousands of streetlights - all pouring wasted light into our skies and turning what should be a spectacular night-time view into a dull orange glow.
Luckily the Normans, in their conquest, didn't have to worry about such things or their tapestry wouldn't have featured a comet at all.
Re: Say goodbye to those advertising accounts
No kidding? there's no pulling the wool over your wotsit, is there?
A radical new idea
I doubt it will catch on, but maybe - just maybe, if The Guardian and all its other "worthy" bedfellows started printing stuff that was interesting, popular, relevant, unbiased and informative then they'd be able to actually pay their way.
They possibly do produce one or two stories a year (between the lot of them: WMDs, expenses, etc.) that make their existence worthwhile. But not to the extent that they ALL deserve to be propped and subsidised by the whole country. Who do they think they are? the BBC?
Say goodbye to those advertising accounts
Note to El reg. Calling Google and Microsoft "butt heads" won't win you any favours, adverts, or help with your search rankings.
> "thefts of Apple products increased this year as the theft of electronics by other manufacturers declined."
So does the number of "thefts" bear any relationship to the release of new models? Given that a phone is so easy to brick once nicked, as the reduction in thefts of "other manufacturers" goods indicates, you've got to wonder what's really going on.
The real question is
... did the Moon call him a pleb?
Good training opportunity
... after all, someone has to clear up those PP balls
Malice in Blunderland
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
So Humpty Dumpty runs a mobile phone company now.
There's misinformation, lack of information and false information
> misinformation is particularly damaging if it concerns complex real-world issues ...
There's also the possibility that sometimes the general public is deliberately misled (WMDs, dodgy dossiers etc.) to gain acceptance for a policy. There's a wide range of circumstances where the information is considered "too hard" for ordinary people to understand - especially if they are victims of the british educational system - and has to be "simplified" for their poor little brains to comprehend, On top of that there's situations where information is conflicting and incomplete - that leads to religious and factional side-taking, based more on what people want to believe, rather than on actual information.
And finally there's "we simply don't know", which would be the mature response to conflicting/incomplete information, if only there wasn't so much benefit to be had from "proving" your side was right.
Climate change has far too much invested by both sides for any truth to ever come out. Simple observation tells me that the weather I experience in my little corner of the world is hotter/colder/wetter/drier than it used to be (depending when and over what period you care to form an opinion). However, the causes are far from clear and therefore any remediation that may, or may not, be necessary is impossible to propose as we don't have any hard information regarding the cause.
Our trick-cycling hack definitely falls into the "there's money & fame to be made here" and is positioning himself to exploit that. As such he's just adding to the overall noise without contributing anything useful: ignore.
Watchdog - watches
> However Murdoch's son James ...
was savaged was briefly sniffed by the watchdog ...
who lazily opened one eye, had a quick snuffle, farted and then went back to its slumbers.
Personal data is like naked photos
You might give some to people you trust, but really, you should know that sooner or later someone will leak them.
Companies may well start off with high ideals, principles and promises, but there's nothing enforcable to back these up and once given, personal information can't be withdrawn. So as soon as that naive, idealistic company that you once trusted goes bust and its assets are sold, or it gets taken over by a more successful, predatory outfit, all the assurances and guarantees become void. Just like your ex. going to the tabloids with those photos.
Re: Genuinely confused
Yes, that's where I cam across the concept. One sandwich shop I used to frequent sliced their ham so thin you could see through it. I presume the place was run by the sorts who believe in homeopathy - so the thinner the ham, the tastier it would be. Though the question then has to be asked: why didn't my ham sandwich have an overwhelming taste of tuna?
Re: Umm wheres the IT Angle?
Dot matrix printer? No, but some of them look suspiciously like QR codes
Behind closed doors
Juries always make their decisions (or choose which side they like best) behind closed doors - though in some countries they're allowed, or even urged, to blab about it afterwards. So the process is already shielded from scrutiny.
As well as these highly publicised patent trials (really? is a legal process the best way to adjudicate on a spat between two sets of geeks?), fraud trials come under criticism for exactly the same reasons - they're too complicated for the man on the Clapham omnibus to understand.
For both these sets of disputes, it does seem sensible for some sort of tribunal of experts to form a coherent opinion, rather than for the great unwashed to randomly spit out legal precedents. "Ordinary people" are great for "ordinary" crimes against the person: burglary, hitting people, etc. , but for plumbing the depths of arcane points of dubious laws, nothing beats the considered opinion of people who know what they're talking about.
Now, how to find 12 techies who can agree amongst themselves about *anything*
There goes the neighbourhood
> The city held all the typical wonders of the ancient Roman world: temples, baths, markets
I wonder if the natives from that part of Turkey viewed the ubiquitous architecture of the roman empire in the same way that people today view the encroachment of "western" culture: McDonalds, shopping malls and multi-storey car-parks.
Did they welcome it as a civilising influence and added amenities, or just as more bloody commercialisation that was pushing out the local influences?
> describes Schramm as ... post-gender feminist
Okaaaaay, feminist I get, post-gender I sort-of understand - but both together? it sounds a bit like the conflicts you'd get with a "vegetarian" ham sandwich.
If this description was merely meant as a collection of right-on buzzwords to press the buttons of the terminally trendy ("I live on the internet" - good grief), I could see the point of it. Maybe she's just having a laugh at everyone's expense, but it's lost something in translation.
The tip of the iceberg
This is hardly news - or newsworthy.
When you look at the list, it's plain that huge tracts of IP addresses were given to all and sundry when the internet was new, empty and ran on modems. Apart from the easily-kicked target of the british govt. there are loads of companies that are also sitting on /8's. Ford Motors, Eli Lilly (who?), the long-defunct DEC. Hell: even Apple have a slice of the pie.
If there's any policy worth pursuing here it would be a "use it or lose it" across the whole 32-bit address range. Not just picking on the usual suspects.
So, purely hypothetically ...
When I get a cold caller, who assures me his name is "Simon", what are the chances of sending the right tones/commands to his voice-recognition system such that his computer's mouse will rise up and strangle him?
I'm sure that whoever created these autodiallers and VR systems will have programmed in such a back-door (at least, just as soon as they became it's targets - maybe in the v1.1 release). I guess they're keeping that information to themselves.
Re: Building regs!
Not just building regs that get ignored. Anti-smoking regs, tax regs, speeding regs - all get treated with the same degree of respect. There does appear to be a correlation between the length of time since a country was last under autocratic rule and it's native population's willingness to go by the rule book.
" ... the IPO debacle."
For FB, the IPO certainly wasn't a "debacle" - unless they're forced to reimburse the people who did make a mistake and paid too much for the over-valued shares.
Even the "HTML5 mistake" isn't a showstopper. The crucial point about mistakes is not their making, but how soon you identify a cockup and how quickly you fix it. I've worked in organisations where everyone was frozen into inaction for fear of getting something wrong - nothing ever got done.
The only real mistake in the high-tech world is a repeated mistake, although shagging the MD's spouse might be a close second.
The hazards of monkey parties
> The blue perineum, buttocks and scrotum displayed by adult males
Good to know it's not just humans that take advantage of passed-out drunk partygoers.
Beware the Pac-Man
> If Yahoo! ... is doing that poorly, what are the odds that some other company will just buy it out?
One company that could be in a position to, and knows a bit about Yahoo is Alibaba! All they have to do is sit and wait for Yahoo's acquisition strategy to go badly and then jump in. The question that remains is: why would they want to?
And they wonder why piracy is rife?
> Chinese fanbois will now have to wait ... a week after that, or, as usual, months
So the country that churns out all these shiny new toys is unable to buy them, legitimately?
That does NOT sound like a particularly well thought-out policy, as all it would take for the chinese workers to "solve" the problem is to adopt a "one for you - one for me" attitude. Where most of the production does get shipped to the right place, but a few crates happen to get "lost", or don't appear on the computer's inventory.
What did LBJ say about "better to have you enemies inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in?"
> I cannot see a need to upgrade my 4S
Surely thre reason to upgrade is that now there's a new model out, the days of the "old" one will be strictly limited.
This does seem more like a X.1 release than being worthy of a whole 1 digit increment. I wonder if the reason for there being so little difference (a few percent here, a couple of millimetres there) is because Apple have run out of ideas, or because the iPhone is so near to perfection already?
Best marketing ever!
> Microsoft ... to save the world's most endangered species (over edited for mischievous reasons)
So it comes down to "Buy Windows 8 or the Giant Panda gets it".
How can Apple respond to that?
Complaining is their greatest pleasure
Presumably the same (sorts of) people got used to streetlights, TV aerials and motor vehicles when they started to appear. They'll get used to broadband cabinets too.
To paraphrase Robert Kennedy: Twenty percent of the people will be against anything
Let 'em moan.
The curse of the free
> Next: lack of USP.
That's exactly the reason (well, one of the reasons) why Linux never really grabbed the world by the nuts and dominated the desktop. Any app that becomes successful on a "free" platform will inevitably follow the money and be ported to the mass-appeal systems. However, apps, or real big-boys software, that becomes popular (i.e. profitable) on mainstream, proprietary systems like Windows or iOS have little incentive to dilute the brand, and increase the support overheads by releasing a version that only a small percentage of users will buy or download at zero cost on Linux or Android.
Unless there's some unique feature in Android that can't be ported or replicated on the majority platforms, there will never be a USP for it. However the unique features on closed platforms will ensure that some killer apps they can run will be impossible for the free systems to replicate.
But in reality Windows and Apple's real USP was their marketing, packaging and "it just works" integration. Things that the fragmented Linux and Android app. spaces can never achieve.
Re: Watching "live" by PAYG
> would rather it stuck to its remit ...
I certainly would. The problem with the remit is that since the Beeb get financed by government with our money, they have an obligation to show programmes that people want to watch, not ones that people should watch because it's good for them. Hence they will always have one eye on the ratings, in order to justify the billions that's dropped in their laps every year. But also, making popular programmes helps them fulfill their unofficial remit - which is sticking it to the commercial channels.
Watching "live" by PAYG
> The only thing is, ...
Yes, the gap is that there's no mechanism for a subscription service to take a payment from a viewer for a live programme and then pass that on to the government to bung to the BBC in lieu of having a TV licence. I also suspect that the very last thing the BBC wants is to have their income linked to ratings.
You can lead a viewer to VoD
... but you can't make them watch it.
ISTM there's a vast proportion of the TV audience (across all age groups) who's TV watching style is simply to vegetate in front of the goggle box and watch the least-worst programme on the 2 or 3 prime channels. Where "prime" is a movable feast depending on whether they're a habitual BBC watcher or an ITV fan.
For the rest of us, possibly the minority of the population - maybe even a small minority, the main feature of a PVR is to skip advertisements. If I had to give up every feature of mine, except for FF I wouldn't be that concerned. The explosion in new channels hasn't really increased the breadth of programming available - it's main function has been to increase the number of repeats and +1's thereby obviating the other main function of a PVR: to prevent missing a programme due to schedule clashes (though obviously, the abillity to watch stuff according to one's personal timetable is nice, but see above: re. vegetating).
If I had the choice, I'd dump broadcast TV in an instant (and the licence fee that goes with it). I'd much prefer an Amazon style of consumption where I paid the going rate for the programmes (ad-free 'natch) I like and received a set of suggestions of "other people who watched .... also liked ....". With a bit of forethought, that feature could even be automated by monitoring which programmes were watched from beginning to end, rather than cancelled mid-stream. Just so long as I don't get promotional on-screen inserts when I'd trying to watch the footy.
It's hard to see if they'll allow people to port apps to the BB10 from other platforms, as the Ts&Cs aren't available until "the Fall of 2012" (though Blackberry itself may yet become "the fall of 2012" </lame joke>). So I'd guess this inducement is to bribe the already successful apps from other platforms to bolster their platform, too.
Though if they only allow one payout per developer, they may find the unintended consequence is that developers port a less popular app, that's easier to rewrite, rather than a top-seller.
One small step
I would suggest the only real fix the patent system needs is to make patents non-transferable.
Change their status from being a "good" that can be bought and sold, or otherwise having a value to being a recognition: something that confers a right directly on the patenter, but not on any subsequent parties.
So when the patent-holder (be that a person or organisation) ceases to be: either through death, bankruptcy or acquisition, or after a set period of time (long enough to be an incentive, short enough to not stifle innovation) the patent simply goes away. After that anyone and everyone becomes free to make, use, develop or sell the subject of the patent, without any fear of litigation.
Science fiction has a word for it
> They talk about trundling east or west
NASA could always adopt the SF terms: spinward and antispinward that can be applied where there is no magnetic pole to drive a compass, nor any significantly bright star to rise or set in a particular direction. The terms have been popular for quite some time, though maybe aren't as "taxpayer friendly" as the more familiar east and west.
Good system, gone bad
The patent system is as broken as the copyright system - and for the same reasons.
Both started out in an innocent, idealistic world: let people who make things profit from them and be protected from nasty, naughty people who copy them and don't acknowledge (and by acknowledge, I mean "pay") the original creator, for the work they put in.
However both systems have been hijacked by "Big IP" companies, that don't innovate, themselves but simply deal in commodities and harvest the profits. The original creators don't profit from developing their ideas and directly receiving profits, at best they sold the patent and suing rights - at worst they were simply employees and are regarded as "assets", themselves.
By evolving a life of their own, outside of the world of innovation, both patents and copyrights have become the biggest obstacle that most individuals and companies face when trying to do something new. Whether that's because even the dumbest, most trivial (software) idea can, and is, patented - thus closing off vast avenues of innovation to all the other people who are in the same line of work. Imagine if an early music company had "patented" a popular chord progression and sued anyone else who tried to use it? Where would Orlowski's "huge social benefit" be there (apart from maybe putting Status Quo out of business)?
Patents and copyright are useful when there is a direct link between the inventor/creator and their use. Provided those rights are strictly limited, tightly defined and don't hamper the original work others (for instance by being continually extended, while there's still money to be made). Both systems should get back to basics and work on a "use it or lose it" basis, to stop patent warehousing making any innovation impossible.
Consumers have an easy way to spot liars
It's not hard for someone to tell if a cold-calling telesales person is lying. Just as soon as they say
"Hello Zir, my name is ........ William" you know you're on a loser. If the very first sentence out of their mouths is such an obvious untruth, what's the point in believing, or even listening to, anything else they say after that?
A good place to sue
if you want to sue for libel (written defamation) come to the UK. While the government here is busy outsourcing a lot of law enforcement to the USA (just ask, we'll deport anyone you wish for), London has become the de-facto favoured location for a good bit of sue-age.
I suppose it all goes back to the days of honour (long gone) when impugning the good name of a "gentleman" was the ultimate crime - much worse than killing or stealing from an ordinary person. These days we have some of the most punitive judgements in the world for the heinous crime of suggesting a rich celebrity is in any way less than perfect. Providing of course, you can afford the crippling costs of a legal team.
So now that an american hotel chain has failed in it's bid to convince a Tennessee judge (Tennessee? really?) of their case, can we see them going for "double or quits" on this side of the pond?
Step 1: no bacon
Forget rashers: too thin.
Instead take a bacon steak (essentially a thick chunk of best back, sans the fatty bits) and grill until thoroughly cooked, but not crispy. While the grill's still on, lightly toast 2 slices of hand-cut to your preferred thickness, white farmhouse bread.
While the bread's toasting, slice the bacon steak into 2 or, if you're a budding surgeon: 3, slices. Placing lovingly on one of the now toasted slices and add tomato relish (the red stuff with "bits" in) to cover. Depending on size of mouth, cut sarnie into pieces but be warned: this makes it an easy target for partners to say "wotcha got there, gizzus a bit".
Bite, crunch, enjoy. Repeat
Nothing inspires like cold, hard cash
> s our generation has pretty much done FA to inspire kids towards STEM (no concorde 2, no walking on Mars, no moonbase etc)
Most children want to be a fireman, train driver, a ballet dancer or pop star. Though when they grow up they almost certainly won't be. The point is not to inspire someone when they're 6 years old, but to give them opportunities, a scientific education and a well defined career path. That's what will get the practically minded kids studying the "right" subjects at university, not a song that was played to them 10 or 15 years before they left school.
So if you want a new generation of programmers, bio-technologists, DNA hackers or nuclear physicists, forget about "catching them while they're young". Instead make sure there are jobs available that will use their expertise when they graduate.
Standards and Prior Art
We are told that the jury in this case effectively ignored the issue of prior-art, leaving Apple open to claim that they "invented" the concept of rounded corners, among other things. A claim that is clearly ridiculous and just by itself throws the whole system into disrepute.
The other point that is bad about software patents in general is that they act against standardisation. if every single manufacturer or software designed has to start every design from scratch, for fear that someone somewhere has patented the "for" loop, it means that users will have to learn a completely new set of operations for every product they buy. Whereas what users want is standard operations that work across the range of products from different suppliers. I don't want to have to learn a whole new set of pressy-swipey movements every time I decide to get a different tablet or Pc or phone - and I don't appreciate the extra difficulties that these software patents add to learning a new device. Imagine if every car had a different configuration of pedals and levers because someone had patented the steering wheel?
Re: 21st century warfare
> buying a country doesn't work.
The Americans bought (what is now) 6 whole states from the French in the 1800's. They also bought Alaska from the Russians some 60 years later. Just apply the right pressure, or wait for an opportune moment and it's a policy that seems to work - at least for one party in the deal.
21st century warfare
The chinese don't need missiles or nukes to bring the US or any other country to its knees. They just need to stop selling them stuff (or ask for the trillions of $$$s of debt they hold to be repaid). This is nothing new, we learned this lesson during the oil crashes of the 1970s.
The "old fashioned" way to take over a country was by force of arms: invade, bomb the crap out of it, enforce a blockade. All very bloody and very messy. These days, to occupy a country, all you need to do is buy it up, piece by piece.
The joys of capitalism
This sounds like one of those "only in america" stories. People are free to buy whatever they please and to take advantage of competition between vendors to get the best deal, as there is supposedly a free market. However, the flip-side is that companies are equally allowed to charge whatever the market will bear (provided they don't collude with each other).
The problem with capitalism is that people can't pick and choose which bits of the principle they would like - as the bits consumers don't want are exactly what attracts the vendors into the game. After all, isn't that what makes america grate?
One man's ceiling
> Citi should be entitled to recover all of its losses attributable to Nasdaq's gross negligence
It's often said that every share transaction has a winner and a loser. Either the buyer paid too much, or the seller let it go too cheaply - there's no such thing as a "fair" trade. So on that premise, if Ctitgroup made a loss, it's reasonable to conclude that someone else gained from those faulty transactions.
Presumably NASDAQ is in a position to know who the other parties were in all the trades that Citigroup is wailing about. If they are therefore required to compensate Citigroup for their losses, shouldn't they have an equal case to recoup those "mistaken" profits from the other side?
Alternatively, if Citigroup feel so hard done by, by a few random glitches that could equally have worked in their favour, it may be that they're simply not cut out for the hurly-burly of the stock market.
The biggest roadblock to widespread adoption of nuclear power is its bad press. We all know that when a PR nightmare takes place, the first step to rehabilitating the person / place / thing / company is to change its name (even if you change nothing else). Whether the people are so dim that they never make the association between the old and the new - or if it's just the press that is incapable of making the link is immaterial, it's a technique that works well and has been tested on many occasion.
However, if you want to go one step further, you can tell people that the NEW bears absolutely no relation to the OLD - and in the case of using radioactivity to power our world, that can even be true (well, as close as anything to do with atomic / nuclear P.R. is ever true).
So enter Thorium reactors. No nasty Plutonium, or icky Uranium. No bombs or past history of mistakes, leaks, failures or radiation scares. The reactors are inherently safer (though I'm sure some enterprising idiot will find a way to screw them up) and pretty much fail-safe.They can be scaled up or down, depending on local requirements for generating capacity and convenience. And they can't be used to make fission weapons - which is probably why they haven't been popularised, even though the technology has been around for yonks.
- Xmas Round-up Ten top tech toys to interface with a techie’s Christmas stocking
- Google embiggens its fat vid pipe Chromecast with TEN new supported apps
- Microsoft: Don't listen to 4chan ... especially the bit about bricking Xbox Ones
- Exploits no more! Firefox 26 blocks all Java plugins by default
- Shivering boffins nail Earth's coldest spot