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* Posts by Pete 2

2254 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Starlight-sifting boffins can now spot ALIEN LIFE LIGHT YEARS AWAY

Pete 2
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Anything we can do

(on average) half the aliens can do better. It's reasonable to assume that humanity is nothing special so far as speed of development goes. So it's a reasonable guess, based on zero evidence, that half the aliens out there are more advanced than we are.

So if we can detect alien light, there must be lots of sentient races that can do the same, and have developed the tech. to tell them more about all the other alien races their SETI programmes have marked out.

On that basis, where the hell are they? Sure some will have a prime-directive sort of philosophy and not want to "pollute" us. Some will have seen our TV and decided we're (a) doomed, (b) best left well alone (c) in fear of their sanity. Yet some must have some inking of curiosity and at least started to say "Hi There!" - or "Don't you know there are laws against squirting radio waves everywhere".

However, if humanity really is the most advanced, or only, technological race in this part of the galaxy, then it doesn't say much for evolution.

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Ten serious sci-fi films for the sentient fan

Pete 2
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2001 still does it for me

By far the best of the bunch. Though when someone (so long as it isn't Spielberg) gets round to filming Neuromancer or possibly The Shockwave Rider they could give it a run for its money.

Good call leaving out The Matrix IMHO. Far too many self-indulgent SFX getting in the way of the story.

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UK's £500m web dole queue project director replaced after JUST 4 months

Pete 2
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Looks like they've found their beta tester

Let's see if the system really doesn't have any problems. Who'd bet their benefits on it?

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Bank whips out palm-recognition kit - and a severed hand won't work

Pete 2
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Fixing the wrong problem

> will not work with a severed hand

If a baddie is in a position to hack a hand off someone who's bank account they wanted to raid, they would also be able to say to the victim "either we hack off both your hands (to be sure we have the correct one) or you come with us."

Given that choice I can see the victim ALWAYS choosing to do the deed with hands still intact. So the possibility, cheesy films notwithstanding, of the machine ever being offered a dead 'un is just not a real-life situation.

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Banged-up Brit hacker hacks into his OWN PRISON'S 'MAINFRAME'

Pete 2
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Slow learner

> A UK hacker behind bars for computer fraud

So the guy wasn't smart enough to not get caught, which is how he ended up prison in the first place. Yet he thought (somehow) that a computer with the sole purpose of maintaining a secure environment would be a good target to hack. Even though once (inevitably) the intrusion attempt was flagged, the number of suspects who had the opportunity, the intent and the skills history of failure would land him in the spotlight before he could hit <RETURN>

Loser.

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WHY would survey-slingers give YOU a free $1,500 Google Glass?

Pete 2
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Shrug: the offer's as good as the survey results

Surveys are notoriously unreliable. People either try to guess the "right" answers, respond according to what they think the surveyor wants, don't understand the questions or have a "none of the above" reply.

So if people are getting suckered in to filling out surveys with implausibly generous bait being offered, then it appears that both sides of the understanding (what the punter says and what rewards they are offered) are equally bogus. At last the world of customer surveys are found an equilibrium point!

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Entire Reg readership would fill 205 Olympic-sized swimming pools

Pete 2
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Re: Play hard to get

> Deal?

Maybe - please send photo of the fish

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Pete 2
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Play hard to get

> Laid head-to-toe

If there's any "laying" to be done, I'd want someone to buy me dinner first.

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Mobes, web filth 'PORNIFYING' our kids, warns top Labour MP

Pete 2
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It's bad ... because it's bad.

> The MP ain't talking about what's on tv. She's talking about the kind of material available on the internet which noone in their right mind would suggest is suitable for young teens.

Completely agree. However the basic problem is that the whole topic is marginalised or taboo. Until it's possible to debate the subject unemotionally and with no sniggering at the back, it will not be possible to address the root cause, which is the taboo nature of the topic.

In that respect, it shares the same properties as discussions about drugs. Because hard drugs are illegal, society cannot (or will not) address the problems that drugs cause. All that happens is the discussion always comes back to " ... because they're illegal". At which point no progress can be made in helping the victims or destigmatising those at the unfortunate end of the problem.

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Pete 2
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Get it all out in the open

The basic problem with sex, skin, sexual content, sexting etc. is that it IS considered "nasty" or "dirty" or "shameful" and it's impossible to have a mature discussion about it. Just look at the way the media deals with smut: on TV it must be post-watershed so the little darlings can't be "perverted" by the sight of something half the population has or worse: the sight of two people using their bodies in ways that might lead to embarrassing questions of their parents.

The tabloid press is even worse in their hypocrisy. On the one hand going to great lengths to seek out unintended photos and on the other lambasting those who don't fall into a narrow category of what's considered "normal" behaviour by the prudish readers and the professionally angry journalists.

We are brought up (for better or worse) in an environment where violent death is on the screen nightly (and even during the day) and few ever complain: probably because they've given up complaining. Yet the wrong piece of skin on the wrong channel at the wrong time causes ructions amongst the regulators and those who's hobby seems to be getting aroused apoplectic about nudity.

What's the answer? short of banning clothes during the summer when it's warm enough, I can't think of a way to get past the entrenched opinions.

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UK taxmen turn heat on tax-swerving big biz, hope to smoke out £1bn

Pete 2
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Evade the benefits

> you should be eligible for things like Working Tax Credits

There's an online calculator at:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/start/who-qualifies/quick-questionnaire.htm

For people who have no kids/partners living with them and with a half-decent income you quickly arrive at the answer

Sorry, because your total income is more than £13,000 a year, you probably don't qualify for tax credits.

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Pete 2
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Set your targets low enough ...

... and it doesn't look too bad when you miss them.

> investigating tax worth £1 billion

The government collects over half a TREEELLION pounds in tax every year. So the odd "bil" will neither make much difference, nor be difficult to squeeze out of the system without to much complaint. However, for the populace it makes a nice headline. A billion pounds sounds like a lot, and indeed it is to an individual. But in terms of what it would buy: given how good the finance people are at jacking up the cost of public projects, it's a drop in the ocean.

Fortunately that oceanic drop also means it won't be missed when the bean counters discover that the tax accountants hired by corporations are cleverer and more motivated to save their bosses dosh, than some under-motivated government clerk is at collecting it.

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Engineers are cold and dead inside, research shows

Pete 2
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Humanity can thank us later

And a jolly good thing too, that engineers are cold (or should that be rational) and unemotional. Otherwise we'd still be sitting round log fires debating what colour this new-fangled "wheel" thing should be.

tip 'o the hat to DA

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Google sinks millions into plush new £1bn London HQ

Pete 2
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The going rate

> worth a cool £1bn

and they'll still only pay a couple of quid in business rates on the building

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PR people 'put duty to the public ahead of employers' interests'

Pete 2
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File under: Laughable

> your typical PR type is in fact a selfless crusader for truth and justice

Old joke alert: What's the difference between a car salesperson and a computer salesperson? The car salesperson knows when they're lying

The moral being that it's possible to believe you're telling the truth - especially when you don't have the foggiest idea about the technology, the principles or the theory of what you're trying to flog. Alternatively if you're easily convinced (or want to believe) that a certain thing is true you can then become a fanatical proponent of that - even if everyone around you think it's complete bollocks.

So, a good PR person will believe whatever story it is they're trying to foist on the rest of us. They cannot therefore be blamed for thinking they're doing the right thing, or that their evangelical energy is misplaced. We should feel sorry for them (while patting them on the head and saying "yes, of cooooourse it does") rather than lambasting them. Just don't be taken in by their patter, no matter how convincing it may sound.

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Here we go again: New NHS patient database plan sets off alarm bells

Pete 2
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cloudy flexibility meets touchy-feely

> a top down project akin to building an aircraft carrier

The first step should be to kick all the IT people off this project. Stop thinking of it as a computer to help medical people and start thinking about what those people want to do. Then apply the least amount of technology that will meet the needs of the users.

Most people in the caring professions are there because they are drawn to the personal interaction with patients, they want to do tangible stuff (like sticking on plasters) that makes people better. The ones I have met do not want to spend their days as data-entry clerks, although last time an aged relative was admitted three different members of the nursing staff sat with AR at various times during the day and wrote down on paper pretty much the same information - most of which we could have done while sitting in the waiting room, waiting to be called in.

So if this project is going to be a success - and the odds don't seem to be in its favour - the starting point must be to create a system around the way the medical staff like, or choose, to work and to make THAT JOB easier. If it starts from an IT perspective of "let's give these people new practices and procedures that will make them more productive" than it will get sidelined and ignored, just like the previous failures.

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Stroppy investor to Xyratex: Pah... research! Who spends money on THAT?

Pete 2
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All research should be self-financing

And in most innovative (c.f. companies that grow merely by gobbling up the innovators, rather than doing and R&D themselves) companies research IS self-financing. In fact it makes a profit.

The profit that good research makes is the company profit as without the R&D and the products it gives rise to, there would be no company. Sure, it's a gamble. You start 10 research / development projects and maybe one bears fruit. But so long as the people who make decisions have a grip on the costs and prospective returns - and know what to cancel and when, that 1 success will easily pay for the 9 failures.

Even the failures can make you money. All you have to do is patent every single aspect of them and then lie in wait for some other company to wander into your patent minefield and then set the lawyers on them. Though in civilised countries, that's frowned upon - it's not really cricket, is it?

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CIOs: Don't listen to tech vendors on ICT skills, listen to US

Pete 2
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Re: Skills Shortage

> For some reason (in the UK) a highly skilled technical person cant possibly earn more than his manager!

Which is why contracting was invented. It's a kludge, but if you want to employ staff outside of the constraints of a salary structure intended for administration staff (not IT admin) with no tangible outputs or profit margin, then subbies are the way to go. Even if some of them don't produce anything of worth, either.

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Pete 2
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Couldn't agree more

> starts paying attention to the people that actually use the technology.

And who actually uses the technology? Not the CIOs, locked away in the executive suite, so they don't have to come into contact with the icky, nasty "sharp end" of reality. Maybe the group the government should be listening to are the experienced IT workers (the ones the CIOs say are in short supply - wonder why that could be - surely not because of the CIOs lack of training investment? )who know what needs to be done and how to do it, irrespective of what the vendors or the chief executives might think.

The problem with this suggestion is that the answer might not be what the government wants to hear. I would suggest they want an attaboy for their current policies and some reorganisational changes that cost nothing, but look like progress - possibly with a few seats on a few boards for when their parliamentary careers are over. However I suspect the people who know would tell them all the unpalatable (i.e. expensive) truths - and worse: do it in public.

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Raise a beer: Titans of tech fill out 'Worst CEOs' list

Pete 2
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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

So wearing an £x00 suit suddenly makes you credible?

You realise that's not a very clever or practical way to judge actual ability or predict performance?

Does it really not bother you that all it takes to persuade the unknowing that you're a serious professional with decades of experience and a no-nonsense attitude is clothes?

This fact on its own explains why so much corporate process is a temple to idiocy. As Dominic Connor would doubtless point out, it's all about appearance management and the faking of credibility, not reality-based talent and ability.

I can't argue with any of your views about how the world should be. All I can say is, as with many things we have to put up with, it defies logic. But railing against the "is" in favour of the "ought to" doesn't help me achieve my goals. So, when I know that my proposal is the best solution I have no qualms to using whatever (legal / ethical) means of persuasion have the greatest effect. For me, in my particular situation, dressing as you would for a job interview (which is another situation where we hope to impress & persuade) seems to help. It may only boost my confidence, or it may present me as a professional. Either way, I find that I get fewer objections, and occasionally people call me "sir"!

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Pete 2
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Re: I like wearing suits, although the opportunity rarely presents itself.

> But people who regularly wear a suit to the office?

I find it saves a great deal of time. Time that I would otherwise have to spend establishing my credibility.

A lot (possibly: most) of the meetings I have to present at or contribute to, have decision makers who are not that technical. What I mean by that is they don't know the difference between a gigabyte and their elbow. That doesn't mean they're bad at their jobs, just that their jobs and mine have few intersections: I don't understand their jargon, processes or motivations and they don't understand mine - but we do have a mutual respect for each other's position. However, if you want sign-off or approval for a project, investment or piece of development, you need their nod.

It might not be the best situation, but it's the one we have. Since I'm not in the business of changing the world, you learn to play by its rules.

Now, I can go to the small amount of trouble of pulling a suit, shirt and tie out of the wardrobe - or I can spend the first half hour of a meeting with strangers (whom i may or may not have to build a working relationship with) trying to convince them that I DO know what I'm talking about and that they should listen to what I have to say. If I want their respect, I have to show some of my own - and that means indicating that I've gone to the trouble of taking them seriously and dressing in a way that they expect serious, professional people to present themselves. If it's my "outward appearance" that helps convince them, then so be it - it's a small price to pay for getting what I want. Luckily it seems to be a successful strategy, for all concerned: my career and the business.

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Forget 3D: 13,000 UK homes still watch TV in black and white

Pete 2
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It's still the same old programmes

Whether you watch in B&W or glorious colour, the programmes are still the same. The news isn't any different, the soaps are just as cheesy, the comedies either make you laugh - or not and the documentaries have the same pretty images and narrative, irrespective of whether your telly displays the chrominance signal or not.

The same can be said for 4::3 formats vs. 16::9 or SD / HD. No matter what format or technology, you still get the same old programmes. So if you're happy with B&W, can't tell the difference or you do manage to get away with the cheaper licence then great. You're not missing that much in terms of actual TV content: merely the superficialities of how you perceive it.

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'Leccy-starved Reg hack: 'How I survive on 1.5kW'

Pete 2
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@ Andrew Moore

> The standard Spanish methodology in this is to build first and ask permission later giving the "well, it's already done now" or "es completo ahora" excuse.

I'd be surprised if that still works (unless you're building entire housing estates). The whole licensing thing in Spain is a money raising caper. The Town Hall charge typically 3% of the cost of the job to give you the rubber stamp. If you did try the old "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" ruse not only would they rake in a nice big fine, but you'd still have to pay for the license.

You may even suffer the ignominy of paying the fine and then being required to dismantle / demolish your "illegal" works, and THEN to apply for a licence to rebuild it.

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Pete 2
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Spanish practices

> stumping a huge wad for some electrician to sign a piece of paper

But that's what the whole spanish (black) economy runs on. When we got our casa a few years back, Endesa (the local power company) told us that the mere act of buying the house required an outside meter box to be installed - there being only a sticky-out box on the outside wall and the "new" regulations required this to be flush with the wall. Oh, and we had to get a boletin, too.

In practice, the Boletin meant that "an amigo of an amigo" popped round, slapped a steel box into the hole I'd prepared, yeso'd it in place (all spanish houses are held together with yeso: a sort of industrial strength plaster) cast a furtive eyeball over with wiring, stamped his stamp and charged €350 for the half-hour job. Another visit to the Endesa office, clutching said Boletin, resulted a day or two later in a man in a van arriving with the shiny new meter that was duly installed in the box and the classic phrase: Let there be light came true. Luckily in our part of Spain, the "potencia" comes in 3.3kW (15 Amps), 4.4kW (20A) or 5.5kW steps - though actually getting the 220 Volts needed to drive these levels is often a hit and miss affair. 180 -190 Volts being closer to the norm.

The only sensible way to think of the process, isn't to scowl at the inefficiency of the system, or the cost of the paltry amount of work, or the illogical regulations. You just have to take a deep breath, smile sweetly, hand over the cash and consider the whole thing philosophically as the hoops you have to jump through if you want electricity.

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Potty-mouthed Watson supercomputer needed filth filter

Pete 2
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Immature is as immature does

> some knowledge that the system is still too immature to handle – namely, the contents of the Urban Dictionary

> Almost immediately, Watson began casually dropping profanity into its everyday speech, such as answering one researcher's query with the less-than-scientific term "bullshit."

Surely the immaturity lies with those individuals who were unable to tolerate such a common and (it must be said) inoffensive form of language?

As to "profane" - look up the meaning.

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Sir James Dyson slams gov's 'obsession' with Silicon Roundabout

Pete 2
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Supply and demand

> a serious lack of engineering graduates in the country. He claimed there would be a shortfall of around 60,000 people this year

Oh goody! That level of scarcity, if it REALLY does exist, means that engineering salaries will rise massively in order to attract people into the industry.

What's that I hear you say, Sooty? Engineering salaries are as low as they've always been and graduate engineers can't get jobs? Maybe there isn't a shortage of engineers at all. Maybe the only problem is that people like Dyson (who, given the quality of some of his products - not known as "Die soon"'s for nothing) simply aren't willing to pay the going rate and just want 60,000 CHEAP engineers, rather that well trained ones.

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FAVI smacks your dumb TV with £30 Android SmartStick

Pete 2
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Do what?

> many of us hang on to our sets for half a decade despite the industry's attempts to get us into annual upgrades.

Dream on TV makers. My CRT equipped set was bought in 1988 and ran for over 15 years until it was replaced for reasons of size. There won't be any new TV formats (3D, ultra-HD, smelly-vision) that would make us want to upgrade. So, barring technical failure I fully expect to be staring at the same screen for 10+ years and to never buy another TV again.

After the current crop of TVs eventually go pop, it's unlikely that the replacement would be a TV set - just a piggin' big screen with lots of ancillary gizmos attached, just like 1980's stereo systems: wires all over the place - happy days!

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US military nails 'best ever' Microsoft deal, brags size does matter

Pete 2
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Headline price and REAL price

Somehow I doubt that this will be all the DoD pays for their shiny new stuff. Once the extras, ooops - we forgot's, sorry that's not in the contract's and unforeseen situations that will need additional help at the FULL PRICE are taken into account (which we'll never hear about) I have no doubt this deal will come out to be very similar in total cost to what every other MS customer would pay - seat for seat.

Commercial companies are masters of the art of separating government departments from our taxes their money. After all, governments have little incentive to be economical or fiscally prudent (and defence departments even less so) as they can always mug the proles for more tax-cash or sell more bonds that they'll never pay back, if they ever start to run short.

So I'm sure MS are letting the military have their little neener, knowing full-well that their sales bonuses are very, very safe for many years to come.

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Ofcom looks at contract opt-outs as users rage over price hikes

Pete 2
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Bucking the trend

> leaving network operators in the impossible position of being unable to raise prices against rising costs

Kinda strange, when IT equipment almost always GOES DOWN in price over the years. Sounds more like a case of charging what the market will bear, than trying to make any savings or efficiency improvements - which you'd expect in a truly competitive industry.

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Merde! Paris Apple Store in €1m armed raid on New Year's Eve

Pete 2
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Easy to understand why ...

> Apple did not return a request for comment

They couldn't get to their email as all their stuff had been nicked

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Hm, nice idea that. But somebody's already doing it less well

Pete 2
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Push back

The legal / regulatory aspect is just one side of the non-acceptance issue. The other side is consumer trust (or: lack of it). Until recent years all innovation was tangible - stuff you could touch, put in a drawer and forget about, stuff you could turn off and be safe in the knowledge that it WAS off.

These days so much innovation happens outside the area of user control. Phones that track you (sure, you can turn them off; but then you can't make calls). Websites that know everything you've clicked on. Companies that "need" your personal information just to sell you a sausage roll.

The problem is that the ordinary people feel that all this new stuff is

a) outside their control

b) likely to steal all their money, publish naked photos of them, sue them, get them arrested and/or keep coming back no matter how hard you try to delete/remove/turn off or bury them.

And it's not just ordinary people that are having trouble. Even the people supposedly in charge are getting bitten in the bum by their technology: Gordon Brown and the live radio mike (bigot-gate) incident?

Now whether these problems are real or imaginary is immaterial. We keep hearing about problems: people getting their bank accounts emptied, etc. and the fear of a problem is usually the reason for lack of take-up of new gadgets and innovations - not the problem itself. The reason being the lack of trust and feeling of powerlessness in our relationship with these new-fangled, electronic gizmos.

Maybe when every new gadget comes with an "Ooops, I didn't mean to do that" button that simply undoes everything and can be TRUSTED to put everything to rights, then we'll start to see ordinary people feeling more positive about innovation - instead of feeling that they need a PhD in CompSci just to understand the manual.

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Yes, hundreds upon hundreds of websites CAN all be wrong

Pete 2
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Re: Comprehension

> “You know, we don't always understand what the singers say.”

On that note, it's possible that Frankie Goes to Hollywood"'s greatest achievement was to liberate the lyrics of Born to Run from Bruce Springsteen's mumblings.

"Beyond the Palace the hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard / Girls comb their hair in rear view mirrors and the boys try to look so hard" - who'da known?

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Pete 2
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Mondegreens

The mishearing song lyrics has a long and distinguished history. So distinguished, there's even a word for it.

However, in the particular instance: try listening to it through headphones - it's at about 3:30 into the track¹ and (if you crank it up to 11) comes over loud and clear.

I suspect a worse source of error in the internet / smartphone age is autocorrect.

[1] Return of the Manticore, side 3 track 3.

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Major new science: WOMEN MORE NUDE more OFTEN online

Pete 2
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What a waste of a morning

> After studying 400 avatars

> physical attractiveness [ was equated to ] the waist-chest ratios

An alternative theory is that some researcher got caught playing a computer game by his/her/its boss and made up some cockamamie story about "research" and "virtual worlds". Then they found they had to follow through when the boss said "Carry on, I look forward to reading your conclusions".

So far, so fair enough. However the really sad part of the whole affair is that after scxrambling around for an hour or two to knock together some words and meaningless statistics of dubious quality, they managed to find a publication gullible desperate enough for material to accept, and peer-review, it.

Coming next, maybe: the effect of a hang-over on FPS scores?

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Feeling poor? WHO took all your money? NOT capitalist bastards?

Pete 2
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@Nick

> All I see is that the tax take has risen,

Try here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/apr/25/tax-receipts-1963 for another view, It shows that since the 1960's the overall tax take as a proportion of GDP has always been somewhere in the thiry-percents.Even though during that half-century, the amount we have earned (our wealth?) has increased about fifty-fold.

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Pete 2
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Just a bunch of wiggly lines?

Okaaaay, so the "workers' share" dropped a bit during the Eighties: from a long-term figure in the high fifties, percentage-wise to a number a little below 55 once the hump and following dip from 1990-2000 is levelled out.

Now pardon me, but didn't the late 70's and 1980's see a sharp rise in unemployment / jobless numbers? If you have fewer people working (for whatever reason) wouldn't that reduce wages, too?

For all the words in this piece - some of which I could make sense of - I can't see what the author expects to be done. ISTM the point is that workers are getting less, and government is taking more. Maybe that's true, but that's just slicing up the same cake in different ways: it's not as if taxes are removed from society and the money is burned - it's still there and is still spent. If a government took less off us - to spend on public benefits like the NHS - wouldn't all t'workers have to spend a larger proportion of their increased wages on the stuff they no longer got for free? Things like saving for their old-age, meds, child benefits, putting cash aside for time "on the bench" instead of getting the dole / housing benefit, driving granny around instead of her having a free bus pass (and a free TV licence). So the same money would just be spent by different people, but on the same things. There would be some choice: does Johnny get a new pair of spectacles, or do we have a day at the seaside? but there would still only be the same amount of money in the country.

ISTM the main reason wages are dropping is that so few people make stuff we can sell for a profit. You can't run a country on service industries: such as Taking in each others laundry. You'd have nice, clean clothes but no food to eat. Someone, somewhere has got to make / grow / invent all the stuff to earn the money we spend. Flipping burgers and selling insurance ain't going to cover it.

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Brits are so outraged by Amazon, they voted it TOP for shopping

Pete 2
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The basic fallacy

is to believe what people say rather than what they do.

I'm sure a lot of the population would prefer companies pay more tax - just so long as that doesn't lead to those same people being charged more for the goods they buy. So when faced with the choice between buying from a "good" company or a cheap one, most people will let their wallets lead the way.

This is no different from all the wailing holidaymakers who vow never to fly on RyanAir (again), yet join the queue to squeeze their carry-on into that airlines bag-check frames every year.

Talk is cheap, web chatter is cheaper still, yet none is as cheap or fleeting as pontifications over what's moral, or right.

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Opposable thumbs for FISTS, not finesse, say bioboffins

Pete 2
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broken metacarpals

> higher pressure when hitting with a fist,

If hands did evolve for fighting, rather than tool carrying (or to whack other people with large sticks) you would expect that the bones in the hand and wrist would be strengthened, due to natural selection, so that they were less likely to break (known as a boxers fracture) when used to thump an opponent.

Since this evolutionary trait did not develop - people still break bones in their hands when they hit someone, unless they've been trained properly on how to hit - this explanation does sound unlikely.

A better explanation for why humans have shorter fingers and thumbs is surely so that its easier to send TXTs.

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Dotcom titan funds 'Mark Cuban Chair To Eliminate Stupid Patents'

Pete 2
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Needs a dam' sight more than a chair

I reckon if we filled all the seats from all the olympic stadia throughout the world with the brightest legal minds on the planet, they might, just, have a fighting chance of staving off the combined stupidity of the american patent system and all the vested interests intent on their own intangible land grab.

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High-powered luvvies given new radio home: 'But DON'T disturb the neighbours'

Pete 2
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@Paul

> like concerts and theatre where you can't tolerate 0.1s delay between actors & instruments

It's a long time since I dabbled in TV (university course, back in the analog days), but I do seem to recall being told that to make the audio sound "right", there's an artificial delay of some 100's of mSec introduced specifically so that actors lips move at the same time that the sound reaches the viewers ears.

So long as the right amount of delay between sound and vision is introduced, and kept constant the absolute time delay between recording the "live" event and the time it makes it through to the TV is immaterial. I often notice that in our house a TV tuned to a terrestrial channel leads another TV tuned to the same channel on satellite (not surprisingly) by a second or two.

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Pete 2
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The weakest link

> High power users ... can't go digital because of the same quality and latency issues that prevent the entire PMSE industry adopting digital radio

Yet all our domestic TV manages quite well with digital transmission to the viewer. So I can't see the point in having higher quality "upstream" than the user is capable of receiving. If the signal was digitised as soon as possible, there shouldn't be any further loss in quality all the way through the chain, from O/B to the viewer, provided that the signal wasn't reconverted to analog at any point.

Has this premise about quality and latency ever been tested, or is it just the doom-mongers putting up roadblocks as an excuse for not wanting to make changes?

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Rude web trolls should NOT be jailed, warns prosecution chief

Pete 2
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The sad part is ...

> (ACPO) welcomed the guidelines ... as "a common sense approach"

... that it needed a QC to write a report to define what "common sense" was, rather than for ACPO to be able to work it out for themselves.

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Perl programming language marks 25th birthday

Pete 2
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Re: The internet's Cobol?

> What's wrong with semi-colons?

Absolutely nothing at all. They're concise and give a clear visual warning where the end of a statement lies.

Now, if we were to start talking about requiring levels of indentation .... <ducks, runs away>

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Pete 2
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The internet's Cobol?

I started using Perl in the late 90's and still continue to do so, today - though our relationship is by no means exclusive (yes, I do compile other languages). There are better languages for a lot of the stuff I use it for, but no other single language that can do ALL the stuff I do in Perl, with the ease (through familiarity) and third-party additions I can simply install.

Perls greatest benefit is CPAN. If any language wants an example of how to make libraries integrate with little effort for the user and less fuss they should sit back and watch as Perl modules automatically download, work out their dependencies, download them without further help, build the whole mess, test it's installed properly and then let you get on with your job..

The code may look ugly, it may not have a de-facto IDE, it may be interpreted, you do need to use semi-colons all over the place. But it's well documented, there are plenty of examples (mostly working!) and it's easy to get started. Here's looking forward to another 25 years.

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Forget about fondling that slab... within 2 years, it'll fondle YOU

Pete 2
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And you think privacy is invaded NOW?

Just wait until every pharmacy you walk past has biosensors that diagnose every little sniffle (or droop!) and instantly announce to the world: "You're coming down with .... why not pop in for 10% off some Viagra and a couple of lollipop sticks".

Even worse is when these sensors become more sensitive than our, natural, senses: the machines will know more about us than we can tell, ourselves. Not only will drug testing be ubiquitous, it'll be carried out passively and remotely without your knowledge or consent - by people you didn't even know existed.

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Wind, solar could provide 99.9% of ALL POWER by 2030

Pete 2
Silver badge

Only for americans

This study really does need say it's specific to the USA, it really doesn't work elsewhere in the world.

Friends in the 'States tell me that their electricity consumption is higher in SUMMER than in winter. Air conditioning is considered a necessity and is expensive to run - a situation that simply doesn't feature in the UK or wider: in continental Europe. Given that is when solar PV is most plentiful, the american model doesn't fit a european climate.

Secondly, take a look at the power generation prediction website http://re.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pvgis/apps4/pvest.php

This allows you to click a point on the map and get an estimate of the amount of leccy a "1KW" solar array will generate. Even in the sunny south-east of the UK, you'll get on average 1kW*Hr per day per kW of installed capacity ... and on half the days, less than that! Brrrrr.

Thanks to the power company, we know that chez Pete 2 uses about 10 kW*Hrs of electricity a day. A quick peruse of last winter's gas bill shows that from October - March, we used just over 9,000 kW*Hr or 50 kW*Hr per day for heating/HW & cooking. So reckon on about 60kW*Hr of energy usage per day that would have to be supplied by solar and wind. And then let's ignore wind power as there are many windless days.

Going back to the aforementioned website and selecting Daily Radiation tells us that an average day in January will produce PV electricity for 8 hours at a maximum rate of 100W / m², or roughly 400Watt*Hours of electricity per day. Thus, we'd need 150m² of PV panels to supply our daily needs - assuming the sun shines during January. That figure would require the entire back garden to be filled with solar panels, plus a few more on the roof. Even if the PV generation is located remotely (rather than each household having their own), this would double the amount of land needed to support each house - and then more to supply industry and yet more for power conversion / storage and transmission.

Somehow, I don't think this is going to work ...

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The 30-year-old prank that became the first computer virus

Pete 2
Silver badge

The Multics cookie monster

> created Elk Cloner as a prank in February 1982

Ahem, in the late 70's (possibly earlier, but that's when I first encountered it) there was a "daemon" running around on Multics systems. Briefly, if you became it's lucky victim, it would take over your console and type up

I wanna cookie

on your screen (yes, we did have VDUs back then). Typing "cookie" would get it to go away for a while. Telling it to 'koff would get your session terminated (logged out). From what I recall it was written in PL/1 and was only a couple of pages of lineprinter paper.

Oh and BTW:

> the industry has yet to come up with a secure operating system.

It's not just the O/S that needs to be secure (and there are secure ones around), but the way it's used needs to be secure, too. That's the real problem

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Frack me! UK shale gas bonanza 'bigger than North Sea oil'

Pete 2
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Re: Get it right next time

Putting aside the possibility that fracking will cause massive earth tremors that will destroy all our homes, infrastructure and civilisation

Hysterical much? Satirical mucher.

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Pete 2
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Get it right next time

Putting aside the possibility that fracking will cause massive earth tremors that will destroy all our homes, infrastructure and civilisation, and focussing on the positives for a second.

One of the side-effects of all the North Sea oil and gas was that the UK basically held a party for itself, with several years of lowered taxes to win elections coupled with lots of spending of the oil revenues on popular programmes. All this was essentially "free" to the taxpayer as the oil companies paid huge amounts for the privilege of sucking oil and gas out of the sea bed.

Now this time it would be nice, assuming the windfall is repeated, if some of those revenues were INVESTED in our future, instead. So how about spending the money on improving transport, making teaching attractive to the talented (instead of just the enthusiastic), becoming a world leader in something other than complaining about the weather and maybe, just maybe building up our manufacturing base, so that this "bonanza" leaves something tangible as it's legacy - apart from millions of falling-down houses.

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Shiny new UK.gov stats website a 'disaster' - MPs

Pete 2
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A success by any other name

> no way of getting an answer to that question if you are a lay person

So, at least it's met one of it's core criteria.

Afterthought: it appears the article was written with the same intent as the website in its subject: nowhere is there any mention of the URL, just references to "the site". Maybe the second of the core criteria is to make no reference to the site's address, thus preventing people from accessing it, so it can be closed down in the future due to "lack of public interest"

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