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* Posts by Pete 2

2084 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

America's X-37B top-secret spaceplane returns to Earth

Pete 2
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The simplest answer

Maybe it spent so long in space because nobody could remember the command to bring it back?

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US culture to spread worldwide by means of Kindle, not iPad

Pete 2
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What about the TV?

> helping people learn [ American ] English and understand a little more about American culture

I was under the distinct impression that american TV exports had already done that. All my english-as-a-second-language friends and colleagues have a recognisably american "twang" to their spoken english, usually picked up from TV programmes and the teaching material they were exposed to.

Maybe what these Kindles are for is to redress the balance a bit. To correct some possible notions that every american cop will shoot you as soon as look at you, that every crime can be solved within an hour and that their soldiers can drop into any country in the world, gun in hand (and suitcase, and shoulder holster and tucked into belt and another hidden in their sock - just in case) with impunity.

After all, this sort of programme has got to be cheaper than trying to teach their own citizens (or, it must be said: ours, too) another language.

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Scots council: 9-yr-old lunch blogger was causing 'distress and harm'

Pete 2
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Re: "I bet the lunches at the council offices are better than they serve the kids."

> Just out of curiosity when decade did you go to school? Just trying to figure out when it all went to shit

Well, I was at school in the 60's/70's (not the full 20 years, you understand!). One of the big problems my schools had was that the kitchens didn't keep a lot of reserves. So the food that made up the day's lunch was delivered from the suppliers that morning.

As a consequence the suppliers (esp. for meat) could deliver any old crud, safe in the knowledge that it couldn't be rejected or the little darlings would go hungry.

I do recall many occasions where it appeared the protein (at least that's what it appeared to be) had gone through some sort of vulcanisation process before being served. Whether that was the chemical genius of the school cooks, or the quality of the raw product is difficult to say. Generally the deserts were better as there aren't many ways to mess up Spong [sic] pudding though the custard sometimes made you wonder ...

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Clouds gathering on horizon for software devs, say wise men

Pete 2
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What if "the cloud" is just a fad?

Basically a "cloud" is a very similar environment to a mainframe batch operation of years gone by. You submitted your "job", something, somewhere did something with it and produced your results. The person who initiated all this had little or no control (JCL notwithstanding) over the process.

While this sort of set-up provided a solution, like the cloud, it wasn't very flexible and like the cloud, the person who wanted the work done would often want a little more control - or assurance - over the nuts'n'bolts of the process.

As a consequence, it's easy to see that the huge datacentres that house "cloud" service providers these days are analogous to the manframe operations of yore. It also follows that in the IT world, nothing lasts forever - so what we see as a cloud-based solution today will be seen as a cloud-based problem, tomorrow.

So if we're looking forwards 10 years, sure; there WILL be cloud operations, but there will also be other ways to do thing. Ways that haven't yet been invented (just like cloud computing didn't happen in 2002). What they will be is difficult to say, but if the cycle keeps spinning round, I'd guess that the users would be emerging from the remains of cloud-based architectures and wanting their own systems to run their own applications in their own way.

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Girl Geek Dinner lady: The IT Crowd is putting schoolgirls off tech

Pete 2
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Layers of scorn

So The IT crowd portrays women negatively - maybe, I only watched 1 episode (that was enough - didn't care for it). However, the media in general portrays ALL IT people negatively, too.

As she says herself, lack of women in IT is a worldwide problem, whereas The IT Crowd is purely a local "problem", so while it may not help, it's not a big barrier.

What needs to happen is for the media to depict IT people, in general, in a more sane and balanced way. Although the industry does little to help itself, with "geek speak" and its crappily designed and duff products.

Maybe if we could inject an air of professionalism, discipline and pride into our own industry, then that would make it an attractive proposition to newcomers and equally, help retain them over their whole career.

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Watch out, world! Ofcom is off the leash to bite radio jammers

Pete 2
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The tail that wags the (watch)dog

One could assume that our new overlords and masters; the International Olympic Committee had a clause in the contract (otherwise known as the UK's new constitution) that requires the host nation (otherwise known as The Fiefdom) to have such a rule in place. It sits alongside all the other ones that grant the IOC virtually absolute power in controlling, disrupting and diminishing the lives of the poor sods serfs who live anywhere near an olympic venue.

All in the name of sport - the IOCs; seeing how far they can push a potential host nation into servitude with the sorts of demands that would make any on-tour pop prima-donna blush with embarrassment

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Top bosses admit: Tweets, Facebook Likes influence decisions

Pete 2
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So, not really important at all?

> described data sets as the fourth factor of production

From the website ...

Investopedia explains 'Factors Of Production'

In essence, land, labor, capital and entrepreneurship encompass all of the inputs needed to produce a good or service

So, in fact they're saying that big data is the least important factor of production.

and later ...

more and more management decisions are based on “hard analytic information”, as opposed to just having a hunch

I wonder if the decision (on how to make decisions) was taken in the light of "hard analytic information”, or if it was just a hunch?

The interesting thing is, that if all these business successes are the result of a company having a good process, rather than good leadership it rather shoots in the foot the principle that directors should be highly paid because their leadership is what drives success. It sounds like the success is due to the analysts who trawl through these datasets and come up with insightful conclusions - not the people at the top.

Maybe if good data really is the key to success, these CEOs should be keeping schtum about it and carry on claiming that the success was really down to their skill, vision and talent. Otherwise someone might just ask why they pay themselves so much.

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New UK curriculum ramps up lessons in SPAAAACE

Pete 2
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Irrational numbers teaching

> asks what Pi is and where it came from

That's quite a good example of where abstract knowledge has failed. Teaching people about circles and radius and area could be vastly simplified by just saying that the area of a circle is 78.5% of the area of an enclosing square. If we want people to learn stuff, the simplest way to motivate that learning is to provide practical reasons for it.

As for dumping someone in the middle of London, wouldn't they just hop in a taxi, or pull up the TFL app on their phone?

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Pete 2
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Think or swim

> For a country where you cannot get more than 76 miles from the coast, it is abysmal that so many people cannot swim!

But given the state of geography teaching today, that's a moot point.

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Pete 2
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One reason why it can't work

12 times table, poetry, planets, apostrophes. Hell! by the age of 10 these kids will be better educated than the average primary school teacher. What happens then?

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Linux Mint joins mini-PC hardware business

Pete 2
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Re: Price is ok...

These days you can build a fanless mini-itx system (see AMD Fusion, dual core 1.6GHz) for less than the cost of this puppy.

Industrial systems have always taken the mick with regards to pricing. Generally because of the lower volumes and tighter QA that hostile environments require. However this Linux Mint beastie looks like it's managed the worst of all worlds: high price, moving parts (disk) and aimed at the domestic market.

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An early iPad adopter? You smut-ogling filth-gobbling perv!

Pete 2
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The second-hand slab market

... maybe that used tablet isn't such a good idea after all.

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Habeas data: How to build an internet that forgets

Pete 2
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The problem is the users

This is something celebrities have had to put up with since the start of newspaper publishing. It's always been the custom for the press to keep files of clippings and "interesting" facts about people in the news. Whether the items of interest, or the unfortunate photograph was 6 months old, or 30 years ago never seemed to matter - it still got dragged out whenever an editor wanted to be petty and spiteful, or had a readership that responded well to hate, bile and jealousy.

The difference now is that the internet views everybody as a a celeb, but "ordinary people" haven't yet tumbled to that fact and therefore act as if everything they say and do is somehow private. There are two ways this could work itself out: a form of mutual blackmail where everyone can dig up something about everybody else - so the feeling of superiority cancels out, or a growing sense of maturity among internet users along the lines of "so what" when presented with some trivial lapse of judgement or taste. If history teaches us one thing, it's that the second option will never happen in Britain (some other countries have a much more relaxed attitude, but not us), - just as people won't stop posting things they'll later regret.

As a consequence, if the only defence of your own bad behaviour is the ability to drag up evidence of everyone else's, then maybe what we need are more and better sources of salacious material. Possibly putting all the country's surveillance cameras to good use and tagging every individual who ever puts a foot wrong, so they be seen to be just as "human" as the people they criticise.

Another option would be the national adoption of Bob Marley's classic commentary on the situation:

while you point your fingers someone else is judging you.

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Gov exposes 8,000 GPs so punters can pick one

Pete 2
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The theory and the practice

What I really want to know if I need to see a doctor is how good are they. Are they likely to prescribe an orchidectomy when the real problem is my underpants are too tight (or if I arrive late). I.e. can they accurately and quickly diagnose and treat my ailments.

All the website seems to present is whether the front-desk staff are nazis (ans: usually, yes, it's a perk of the job) and whether the practice in general was well organised. Since most surgeries are host to many, many doctors the overall rating tells you little or nothing about the individual quack your "pot luck" will refer you to on any particular appointment (I've never seen the same GP twice).

I suppose if the system did rate individual GPs then in the long run, the reviews would be good, since all the lousy doctors would have killed off their patients before they could complain to the website.

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Focus groups are for mugs

Pete 2
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Ask and ye shall receive

It's not just focus groups, sending documents out for review is just as bad.

Possibly the worst aspect of "processes" in business is the number of people who wish to review, approve or be FYI'd on documents that are, essentially, none of their dam' business. Mostly it's just to pad out their days (shades of: "why don't estate agents look out the window in the morning? Then they'd have nothing to do in the afternoon") with the illusion of activity.

However, once these people get a copy of a document, they feel the need to suggest changes - whether they know anything about the subject or not. One boss I had made it his policy to require at least one change to every circuit diagram he reviewed - just to show that he'd examined it. This was a long, long time before Dilbert and PHBs. After all these induhviduals have suggested their changes (none of which are returned until the deadline), there then follows a period of argumentation regarding why you chose to ignore their "input" and the inevitable politicking if you happened to point out an error in one of their documents - expect the favour to be returned in spades.

I now adopt a policy of NOT circulating proposals, papers or designs whenever possible and everyone seems happier for it (though not as busy as they'd like to appear). I reckon focus groups act the same way - if they always said "yup, that's fine" there would be a feeling that their time had been wasted - that they hadn't exercised their "right" to an opinion. Maybe the secret is in the questions they are asked. If instead of open-ended critiques, focus groups or approvers were asked specific, if diversionary, questions about particular aspects: do you prefer X or Y? then it would be easier to obsfucate the responses and come up with exactly what you intended to in the first place.

After all: you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself.

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New London Bus API arrived at approximately ... 15.00

Pete 2
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Out of character

After having to wait this long, you'd expect 4 to arrive together

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HDD oligopoly to keep post-flood prices high till 2014

Pete 2
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Last chance for the big bucks

While spinning storage prices remain high, SSD prices are following the traditional hardware trends downwards. At some point, a lot of domestic users will realise that the 1TB disk that came with their (pre-flood) machine is still 90% unused. Commercial users (who are more driven by TPS rates than GB capacity) will wake up to the fact that a mirrored pair of SSDs can outperform a much costlier disk array. More importantly, vendors and disti's will get higher margins from SSDs and therefore promote them instead of traditional solutions.

So although there is a post-flood "catch-up" as people who deferred purchases earlier are now buying again, it's not guaranteed that this will continue. After those needs have been fulfilled, I expect that either the disk manufacturers will "blink" or their markets will remain in a somewhat shrivelled state (long time immersion in water has that effect) as the SSD makers slowly cruise past them, gesticulating as they go.

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Flying Dutchman creates dead cat quadcopter

Pete 2
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102 uses for a... errr

I just popped back to 1981 (well ok: to a box in the loft) and referred to the source material. ISTM Bart Jansen's idea bears a striking resemblance to use #26 - given the technology available at the time.

I also can't help comparing the reception the book got back then (IIRC most people took it as whimsical humour - or outright ROFL, when they saw the pencil sharpener use) with some of the responses the reality generates 30+ years later. Intolerance, fear or hate - three sides of the same coin.

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Pete 2
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Flying pigs next?

One step closer to having to re-write the old saying.

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Facebook tests parental-guidance tools in plan to pull in under-13s

Pete 2
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The hardest part ...

> access the site under parental supervision

... Isn't preventing children from access the internet (or FB, whichever is more "interesting" to them). The biggest obstacle is overcoming parental indifference. Maybe the easiest way to force parents to take an interest in the doings of their offspring (and maybe cleaning the 'net up as a beneficial sideeffect) is to somehow require the family credit card to be registered against little jonny's FB account. That way, even if those responsible for him/her don't feel the inclination to perform their duties, the possibility of all their benefits beer-money draining away might appeal to their venal instincts and lead to the desired effect.

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MoneySavingExpert.com founder flogs website for £87m

Pete 2
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Bargain

Considering that it's so much more useful than FB, I'm surprised how little it went for.

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GAGA: Spinning blades, welding, wi-fi, what could possibly go wrong?

Pete 2
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Tanks for the idea

If I was designing an autonomous vehicle to go motoring around the garden hacking down plants, grass and anything else that got in its way, I'd be drawn to a RC model tank as the basic platform. Apart from the sheer "cool" of a tracked vehicle, I reckon that when you scale up the natural contours of a less than perfectly flat lawn, then that's a reasonable match for something designed to drive over battlefield terrain.

Depending on the amount of ground clearance, there should be scope to mount a rotating-wizzy thing under the chassis; safe for prying fingers, nosy cats and slow-moving grannies. There's also the long-term possibility of doing something with the gun turret. I'd suggest using it as a means of delivering systemic weedkiller to dandelions in the path of the all-conquering garden-force.

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US officials confirm Stuxnet was a joint US-Israeli op

Pete 2
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Kinda opens the door

Given that this was an offensive, pre-emptive operation by one or two states against another "enemy" state, it will be intersting to see if the USA and Israel (if they really were in cahoots to make the attack) can retain any moral authority in the internet-as-a-battlefield stakes. It does seem that none of the perpetrators will be able to go bleating to anyone if some other state (or maybe even non-state) decides to go after them: either in retaliation or just for LOLs - after all, they started it.

It also make you wonder if this undermines the americans' ability to prosecute cyber-attackers, since they are not above using the same tactics, themselves.

Since cyber attacks are a very good match to asymmetrical warfare, by pulling the cork out of the proverbial these guys may well find that any baddies with a botnet or two could wreak much more damage on them than they managed to incur on their (first?) target.

I just wonder how many moves ahead their strategists were thinking when they decided to start down this particular road?

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Sharp to show OLED 'retina' display for laptops

Pete 2
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Should've gone to screensavers

OK, it would be nice to have a screen that could actually display a 1::1 rendition of the mutli-megapixel snaps that our hyper-giga-sooper-megabyte cameras and phones (complete with their mess-produced, fixed focus little plastic lenses) can take. But that's about it. All that will happen then is people will begin to see the Emperor's New Clothes of a 14Mpix camera that is bugger all use if the shot isn't perfectly focused, and taken with a decent lens (read: costs more than the camera) with a noise-free image sensor, and no camera-shake.

So far as looking at internet porn ictures goes, unless they get re-scaled to a suitable DPI, which obviates these extreme resolutions, they'll be about the size of a postage-stamp. Text, likewise.

As for movies, even 1920x1080 formats will need to lose the benefits of all those millions of pixels just to fit properly on the screen - unless you're planning on watching 4 movies simultaneously.

Finally, who actually has eyes that could discern such high resolution? Sure, if you have eyes like an eagle and are viewing in a well-lit (but reflection-free) environment then you might possibly get some benefit from a 4MPix screen on a 13-inch display, but for ordinary people: with or without fully corrected vision, viewing from a sensible distance, this seems like a "we'll do it because we can strategy - just like the megapixel marketing campaigns are with digital cameras.

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'Europe two years late' to the US cloud party

Pete 2
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Sounds like a wise course of action

This is excellent planning by the sounds of it. Just like we're told "never install version 1", it's only sensible to let someone else take the risk, find the problems and iron-out the bugs before committing to a new way of "doing" computing.

Maybe once all the concerns regarding getting your stuff into a cloud environment, getting it out again if the worst happens (and it will), learning how to deal with cloud suppliers who go bust, outfits that don't have top-rate security - or service provision - and learning how to recognise all of these pitfalls. After the problems of where the hell your data actually resides and who controls it have been sorted out we'll then be in a position to ask the basic question:

"What real, hard, monetary and business benefits do I get from handing over the IT part of my business to some complete strangers?"

can start to be addressed. If the answers to all these points makes it clear there are benefits and manageable risks, then - and only then - would it be worth considering.

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Steve Jobs speaks from beyond grave: 'iPads are toys'

Pete 2
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Planned obsolescence?

> We look at the tablet and we think it's going to fail

which it will do eventually. And once it does fail there doesn't appear to be any alternative but to buy another (except, of course, NOT buying another). That's the genius.

Oh, you meant the business model?

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MPs brand BlackBerrys for bobbies scheme a failure

Pete 2
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Hardly surprising

All government agencies have their own preservation as the top priority

Hence, any change provides an excuse to add cost, bureaucracy, oversight, additional management and more "information". Even going back to the old ways adds more supervision, time, people and cost into the department.

Just as 1984 is the de-facto handbook for government surveillance of it's enemies - or "citizens" as we used to be known, so Little Dorritt¹ has been the "bible" of every government department for the past 150 years. The only way to break free of the ever-increasing costs, restriction, required-approvals and form-filling is a very long wall and an outsourced firing squad. Sadly, the revolution's been cancelled on Health and Safety grounds - until a full risk assessment is completed.

[1] The Circumlocution Department, specifically

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The more science you know, the less worried you are about climate

Pete 2
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All you need to read

> ... [people] with higher levels of scientific and mathematical knowledge are more sceptical

and that's all folks!

It's not about climate change, voodoo, astrology, psychology or the latest health fad. It's just a state of mind. Everyone's on the spectrum between iconoclastic and faith-believer. It's just that more people with more rational knowledge will tend to ask "why?" and not be fobbed off with responses that don't stand up to reason,

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Hard disk drive prices quick to rise, slow to fall

Pete 2
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Re: No surprise

> Cost of manufacture doesn't suddenly go up because one factory goes offline.

Well, it can do. If an industry loses a percentage of it's supply AND the other, unaffected, suppliers need to step up their production to meet demand there IS a cost to doing that.

These days most manufacturing runs with very little slack. If a plant is designed to make 100,000 gizmos a week then it'll be making that many. Asking for 110,000 gizmos won't just be a case of turning the production line speed up to 11. It'll need more investment, more raw materials (or parts: from subcontractors who in turn are working at 100% capacity), more workers - to be trained, more factory floor space to be built, more storage packing clean-rooms and testing. In fact: more of everything.

If the expectation is that when the "lost" production is restored, all that extra investment will be standing idle you can't really expect the plants' owners to finance that expansion without wanting to recoup their costs.

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Self-driving Volvos cover 200km of busy Spanish motorway

Pete 2
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@Emj

Don't try this without expert supervision. Get your tongue stuck in the tread at speed could well be grounds for divorce.

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Pete 2
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But does it fail safe?

If this "platoon" is dependent on the lead lorry to provide guidance, what happens when LL fails, breaks, or loses its wifi?

I appreciate that this is more of a testbed/demonstrator than a viable option, but the key question isn't so much "can it be made to work?" but should be "what happens when it fails?" Even requiring each vehicle to have a drive who could take over isn't a complete solution. If that driver is busy doing something else: reading the paper, having lunch, getting "cosy" with the passenger, leaning out of the window trying to lick the tyres - or whatever else bored drivers get up to. If the driver can't get back to a position where they can take over quickly, or the car doesn't do something sensible on it's own then the system can't be usable.

Hopefully this particular implementation won't crash and kill everyone involved each time it goes past a roadside cafe offering free WiFi!

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People-powered Olympic shopping mall: A sign of utter tech illiteracy

Pete 2
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Dimensional analysis

But kiloWatt*hours are a useful unit, as they have a direct connection to people's experience and their consumption of electricity. It's easy to know that if you run a 1kW electric fire for one hour how much electricity that equates to in the units that it's billed in. From that follows the cost of your action.

In the same way, we measure petrol consumption in miles per gallon, km per litre, litres per 100 km or some other variant of distance and volume. We don't feel the need to consider that distance is measured in units of length and the "per" is dividing that length by a volume (i.e. length cubed) unit. That would mean that logically petrol consumption should be stated in "inverse square feet" or some similarly meaningless definition.

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Pete 2
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Hope for the best

Maybe the most fortuitous outcome from this publicity stunt could be the widespread adoption of these "magic" tiles by the ignorant, innumerate and terminally trendy. With luck they'll be so in awe of this new way of getting so little much energy at so high low a price that they'll rush to install them in their own homes. Then, come the time of accounting: when the invoice for the tiles' supply and installation doesn't match (or even come within 0.1%) the cost of electricity consumed they might just begin to ask questions.

Although the obvious question they'll probably ask is "why weren't these tiles installed properly, to get the savings I thought I should have?" it might just come to pass that one or two of the II&TT's would start to question the whole premise of energy-saving wheezes that are targeted at them, as a whole. If that does happen, at least the monumental cost and complete fallacy the exercise was based on will have some, small (about as small as their energy "saving") benefit.

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How to keep your money safe if the euro implodes

Pete 2
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Re: Making a drachma out of a crisis

> a sign to other 'lazy' countries

I was thinking more in terms that the consequences (of exiting the euro) would be a clear message to the people in those "threatened" countries. So instead of them adopting a Mikawber-esque attitude and thinking "it's not that bad, something/someone will sort it out for us", they'll see that WHEN their turn comes, the consequences will be real, painful and immediate. At that point, they might just decide to stop avoiding taxes (a big problem the greek govt. had - Spain too) reform their ways of working (the term "spanish practices" came from somewhere ;)) and start living within their means.

I agree with you about monetary union. The problem was that the agrarian economies were no real match for the industrial economies - no matter how well they had "synced" their fiscal states. Now, if the euro had originally been called the Euromark, that might have made the balance of power a little more apparent to all the deadbeat countries who thought they were equal partners - and spent EU grants and took out EU loans accordingly. A lot of countries "peg" their currencies to a stronger one - usually the US dollar. It could be time that the euro was rearranged a little so that instead of a single currency without political union, the eurozone currencies either got a peg to the Euro(mark) or seriously all got into the same bed and agreed on a political basis, too.

So far as the consequences for the euro - it might even be a good thing. It would show that the politicians were willing to cut away the rotten states. Financial markets fear nothing more than they fear uncertainty. So far "europe" has been prevaricating and fudging the issue, while it's clear to all the speculators what needs to be done, and should have been done years ago. Maybe they have been betting on a breakup. After all, every other previous currency union has failed. Some strong action may make the speculators rethink their position.

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Pete 2
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Making a drachma out of a crisis

The greek GDP is about 300 Bn euros a year. Compare that with the eurozone GDP of over 7 Tn - it's less than 5%. Now I appreciate that everything's connected to everything else and that the european (probably worldwide, too) banking systems are more brittle that Windows 3. However the UK managed to Quantitatively Ease more than that amount all on it's lonesome. With two or three eurozone countries pitching in, we could probably buy the whole of Greece for the price of a busted bank or two (and we have a few of those on the books, if anyone's interested).

So what happens if Greece does get the boot? At the very least it will serve as an example to others. Maybe when the rest of southern europe sees Greece turn (back) into a third world country in the space of a week - possibly followed by the traditional Coup d'Etat, it will galvanise then into thinking that maybe getting off their arses and paying their taxes is the lesser of two evils.

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And the worst film NEVER made is...

Pete 2
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picking nits

> Starring Justin Bieber ... Barbara Streisand ...

Having watched ToTP 1977 last night, shouldn't that be Barbra Streisand (though I'm not blameless, for many years I thought her last name was Streisland)

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SpaceX does what it HASN'T done before: Dragon in close ISS flyby

Pete 2
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Re: Great but oversold?

The biggest achievement of SpaceX is in doing what they've done at a low cost. That's the advantage of a private enterprise over a government programme. It's also the future of space development.

What we need now is to introduce a little competition into the game - hopefully without a patent-war. That will help turn the current "old technology" solutions into something better and innovative. That's really the only role governments should have in space development: to be the munificent customer.

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Google warns against ISPs hard on web filth

Pete 2
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There IS a case for web censorship

Personally I would thoroughly support any initiative that helped protect children and other impressionable members of society from exposure to the Daily Mail.

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VIA outs $49 Raspberry Pi-alike

Pete 2
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I like!

That 2GB of flash sounds handy - instantaneous bootage (well, close) and having all the ports along one edge is definitely a good move.

This is exactly the sort of competitive reaction that benefits consumers and users. Anyone want to buy my Pi?

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Star Trek's Scotty boldly goes where he always wanted to

Pete 2
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And on the first launch attempt

... a shudder went through the Trekkie fan base as it aborted and they all heard a voice in their heads:

"Cap'n the engines canna take it!"

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Apple's trial experts are 'slavish fanbois who believe in magic'

Pete 2
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Pulled a rabbit out of the hat

> [Apples] ... magical and revolutionary products

Dang, you mean Apple have patented magic?

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Met cops' CSI mobe-snoop tech sparks privacy fears

Pete 2
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It's who you know

So the best thing a crim can do is to make sure his/her speed-dial list contains the numbers of the Top Cop, a few Members of P, some high profile journalists (ex-NotW, 'natch) and some extra-litigious lawyers. Just call them all up from time to time to establish credibility and then go about your business. Maybe for extra points, some photoshopped happy-snaps of said crim and high-profile copper's head in compromising positions.

If you do get your phone's collar felt (or downloaded) it's a good bet that once those "VIP" numbers and piccies start to appear, the data they took will get conveniently lost.

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Raspberry Pi gets snappy with camera add-on

Pete 2
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Re: downvoted (who are you calling a cult?)

> Pointing out ... hardly makes me a fanboy.

Errrrm, I though I was agreeing with you. it's the people who can't stand any criticism that amuse me.

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Pete 2
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Re: downvoted

> I can't work out why 'It'sa Mea... Mario' has been downvoted. His comment was purely factual, save for his 'hoorah'. Really.

ISTM the Pi has gained "iPhone" status - there is a (small but vocal) collection of fanb admirers who will not hear a bad word against it. Whether there's a correlation between its fans and those who have actually touched one, is something I'd be interested in knowing.

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Does Britain really need a space port?

Pete 2
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Kiss of death

> without any significant government help. ... Some people think that ought to change

Possibly the worst thing that could happen to the UK space industry (and by that I don't mean satellite TV) is government involvement. If they want to help, they can promote space science in education, make permits, planning and finance easier to obtain but otherwise STAY OUT OF THE WAY.

The UK has an unhappy history with space exploration - which was all government sponsored and fell prey to the whims of bean-counters far from the action. If there's to be any continued success or growth of the UK industry, it should learn from the lessons of the 60's and keep government interference at arms length.

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NASA found filming August's Mars landing in California desert

Pete 2
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Just like WotW

Even NASA's three-legged "fighting machines" are as described in the book - though they're smaller than I imagined

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75,000 Raspberry Pi baked before August

Pete 2
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a credible offering or a pig in a poke

It's the Mark 1. We know (some through experience and some by learning from the mistakes of others) all about "Mark 1"'s.

Although I doubt if they planned it like this, but the RPi people seem to have got the hacker community to do the beta-testing for them. Discovering the real-world problems is always a necessary task and one that's usually devolved to the early adopters who, through the powers of marketing, seem to be happy to spend their money on unproven stuff in return for the bragging rights of "I was in at the beginning".

[Disclaimer: sometime between now and (hopefully) christmas (hopefully 2012) I'll get to the top of the list and be invited into the RPi store, too.]

What should be happening now is that the professional designers will be looking at all the criticisms and feedback. They'll be tearing apart the initial designs and looking for improvements. With some luck, the current run of Mark 1's will be superceded by faster, cooler (in all senses), more reliable boards using up-to-date chips with more memory, peripherals and a better layout (you really don't want I-O on all sides of the board) that may cost more but be generally better suited to mass-use.

Depending on when that happens, I may grab a Mk 1 when the time comes - or I may get the opportunity to buy a Mk2 when the current design gets obsoleted.

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UK's '£1.2bn software pirates' mostly 'blokes under 34'

Pete 2
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The cost of things that don't happen

We reckon that the cost of a production server taking an unexpected dive averages about £5,600. It might be a made-up figure, but it's one that drives a fair number of budgetary decisions around here.

Yesterday there were no server crashes ... kerrr-ching! Look at that, we've "saved" the company over £300 grand (52 prod. servers) in a single day. Surely for that massive saving, the IT department deserves a rise? In fact, there haven't been any unscheduled outages for a couple of weeks now, which puts the IT "savings" at something greater than our departmental budget.

Given how many (ahem) crashes I personally didn't cause last year I can boast a saving to the company of several million. Surely that means HR should employ more IT staff - none of whom cause any crashes, thus saving even more? Strangely, they're not buying it.

However, I'm sure that with their accounting methods the BSA has IT staff coming out of their ears. Even if they count the cost of an outage at much, much less than we do, they will still be in the money by employing more and more people who don't kill their computers.

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Facebook ups IPO shares to $38, edges towards $104bn value

Pete 2
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What goes up

... must come down.

Sooner or later someone's going to ask the embarrassing question: what's their intrinsic value? That can only be quantified by the amount of living, typing product they have available - the number of actual people who use the site regularly. Unlike Google, which doesn't have "users" in the conventional sense: people who have created an account and visit the site frequently, FB is dependent on the number of people who actively partake of the site and receive their advertisements. It doesn't take much (ref: every other social website that's floated) to realise that users are a fickle bunch. Just because a site is popular, now, with todays generation of teenage web users, that doesn't mean that todays 8 year-olds will necessarily want to use such an "old" technology in 5 or 6 years time. If that does come to pass, then the shelf-life of FB and its stock value could be about as perishable as a piece of fish.

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London's Oyster card website still down after 12-hour outage

Pete 2
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Let me guess

leaves on the server?

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