* Posts by Pete 2

2527 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Nest bricks Revolv home automation hubs, because evolution

Pete 2

Hard lesson

It would seem that people continually need to be re-taught that you only have control of stuff you can touch.

Relying on "web" or "internet" services is always to put yourself at the whim of some anonymous (or Anonymous) decision-maker who has no interest in you or your problems.

Web services or cloud computing users take note.

Oh, and when an online company offers you a "lifetime guarantee", they mean the lifetime of the company - not your lifetime. This is usually to be measured in months.

15
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UK.gov watchdog growls at firms that pass off advertorials as real opinions

Pete 2

Amazon

> Failing to identify advertising and other marketing, so that it appears to be the opinion of a journalist or blogger, is unlawful and unacceptable

Hopefully the CMA will start to target some of the blatant adverts that pass as "user reviews" on Amazon, too.

7
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IT freely, a true tale: One night a project saved my life

Pete 2

Learn to say "no"

> if your boss assigns you work, they should also assign the work a relative priority

There are only 2 levels of priority: the important job (note: singular) and everything else. The top job gets worked on at all times when progress is possible and everything else is filler in the gaps while you are waiting for the top job;s critical path to come back to you.

When a new piece of work comes in, the conversation has to be: "My highest priority is X at the moment. I expect it will take so-many more days / months. Do you want to me to stop this and work on the new job, instead?" Unless the answer is "yes", the new job goes on the bottom of the pile.

Needless to say, all of this must be conducted by email - never merely in a conversation - so that there is a paper-trail, come review time.

1
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Hortonworks fires up Centrica contract: Gassy client to probe users' usage

Pete 2

2PB and 250 nodes for that?

> allow its [ British Gas ] analysts to identify patterns in data covering customers' energy use.

Let me take a wild guess: more in the winter and less in the summer.

3
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Microsoft's bigoted teen bot flirts with illegali-Tay in brief comeback

Pete 2

Big AIs have little AIs on their backs to bite them

I think the issue here is that the AI was learning faster than it's human "controllers" could keep up with.

One would hope that this AI (and all the others that Microsoft must surely have spawned) is actually feeding into a higher AI. One that will in the future produce better AIs by learning from the mistakes of the earlier generation of man-made ones.

0
1

Go nuts, brother: Ubuntu 16.04 beta – no more auto data-spaffing

Pete 2

Long term support

> it’ll also enjoy full support and updates until 2021

Just so long as you don't need / want /accidentally add a package that doesn't form part of the LTS suite - which requires a later version of a library that is lagging in the LTS stakes. Then you're (back) on your own again.

Given the amount of stuff - not just the pretty dam' popular packages that the article mentions - that don't form part of the LTS, that would be a large proportion of the user base.

3
2

Microsoft did Nazi that coming: Teen girl chatbot turns into Hitler-loving sex troll in hours

Pete 2

The first mistake

... was to announce that this was a 'bot and that people could "teach" it things. They might as well have put a "kick me" sign on it.

Hopefully, the next time MS do this, there won't be any announcements, no "Hi, I'm a bot" hoopla. Just an anonymous "person" joins Twitter and starts saying "normal" things - if anyone on Twitter actually says normal things.

So, the first lesson in machine learning would be to not tell the world that you're a machine. If the people who interact with it don't twig that fact then maybe you've got something interesting going on¹. Plus, of course, Twitter could really use all the new 'bots to boost its flagging membership.

I wonder what will happen when it becomes mostly bots? Will there start to be something worthwhile on it (at last).

[1] but more probably that its followers are even dimmer than the bot is.

39
1

You say I mustn’t write down my password? Let me make a note of that

Pete 2

It's not a password, it's a TO DO list

1.) T1dyUp

2.) G0t0lunch

3.) MeetSa11y

4.) Chan8epassw0rd

21
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Raspberry Pi celebrates fourth birthday with fruity version 3

Pete 2

Re: One or 2 more ethernet ports..

> One or 2 more ethernet ports

A tenner will buy you a USB - Ethernet adapter. Or < £3 if you buy from China

2
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Remember WordPress' Pingbacks? The W3C wants us to use them across the whole web

Pete 2

Bait and switch

So after Alice has published something and Bob "webmentions" her writing in his response. Then Alice sees what Bob has said - something complementary - she decides to link her stuff to his stuff.

Fair enough so far. We have two pieces of compatible material.

Now, after a day or so, Bob (or Alice) swaps out their original text and replaces it with an advertisement for bodily elongation, loan applications, political endorsements or pr0n. How is the weblink policed?

So long as the link stays the same, would the process be able to detect changes; whether benign such as a correction of update or nasty, underhand or fraudulent?

6
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Cybersecurity is slowing down my business, say majority of chief execs

Pete 2

If you can see it, you're doing it wrong

> security staff getting in the way

A not unreasonable attitude - and one that is prominent (dominant?) in the real world, with users, too.

The problem with "security" is that it's not built-in. If it was, it would be transparent and nobody would be able to point to a thing, server, person or process and say "that dam' security [ whatever ] is slowing down our business". The security elements of a business should be ubiquitous, rather than discrete. There shouldn't even be a security component, just like there isn't a literacy department (unless you count Q.A) or someone who's job is ensure the staff aren't walking around naked.

As with real people in the real world, if security gets in between them (us?) and what we are trying to do, it's a failure. And therefore it will be no surprise that people will ignore, disable or subvert all the bad security implementations that are seen as annoying complications to their lives. The level of engagement that users or businesses should have with IT "security" needs to be down at the putting on your seatbelt level - and even then you still get idiots who think that is too much trouble. Anything more complicated for users is just bad design and poor implementation.

9
0

Virgin Atlantic co-pilot dazzled by laser

Pete 2

Re: How about adding the penalty of......

> And if they're worn rather than fitted to windows

The difficulty is whether the protective glasses would interfere with the colour rendition of the cockpit displays.

What I would like to see is detectors in the cockpit to quantify the incidence of laser "attacks". While they are certainly annoying, without some hard data on both the frequency and intensity it seems to me that an effective response is impossible to implement.

I wonder if any of the passengers noticed the beam? Given that the aircraft must have been miles away from the origin and traveling fast, you'd have to be extremely unlucky for only the cockpit window to get zapped.

3
1

Trane thermostat is a hot spot for viruses on home networks

Pete 2

Re: IoT

Either that or your "smart" fridge will notice that it's packed full of junk food and beer. It will ping the node in your bathroom scales that will confirm you've put on a couple of kg in the last month. Your intelligent doorbell will pass that on to your car, which will refuse to unlock the door in the morning, so you have to walk to work.

The toaster will order you a treadmill off Amazon and the TV won't work until your electricity monitor confirms you've done an hour's running each night.

And it'll be your waste-analysing lavatory that rats you to the DEA.

3
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Pete 2

Re: When is the IoT industry going to get smart on security?

One reason that the IT industry is so tardy at fixing potential problems is that until they turn into live issues - with actual exploits that affect real users, there are always more pressing (if not more important) things to focus the available talent on.

So if people want to promote IT security they need to not just wave their arms about potential security holes, but to tell people how many actual incidents of exploits are affecting¹ real customers, NOW.

It's also worth noting, that customers / users are just as bad. They don't install available fixes until after the "horse has bolted". So unless fixes are forcibly pushed down - an extremely risky strategy: just ask Apple or Microsoft - it's left up to an equally resistent user population to act on patches and fixes.

[1] and "affecting" means: dickin' with their IoT stuff. Not just ssh-ing in and having a poke around, but turning the thermostat up to boiling point or having other material affects on the users' lives. Without that sort of information, it's still just a theoretical threat that they won't take seriously.

4
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Did water rocket threaten Brum airport Airbus?

Pete 2

Hitting the "k"

825m eh? Do I smell a Special Projects Bureau project in the offing.

1km would be something to aim for (rather than a passing airplane)

23
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Facebook tells Belgian government its use of English invalidates privacy case

Pete 2

Our terms, not theirs

> Facebook has told the Belgian government that it cannot proceed with its privacy case against the social media giant because of its use of English terms

But surely England (you know: where English is spoken - and invented) can step in and "allow" the Belgians use of some of our words. Since the Americans actually speak american, not English, their argument seems invalid.

Of course, it's complicated, since the american word for their language is "English", although this is really just a failure of translation, than them trying to lay claim to an entire language. Especially when it's one they don't actually speak!

7
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'Unikernels will send us back to the DOS era' – DTrace guru Bryan Cantrill speaks out

Pete 2

Hard and fast

Cantrill seems to be promoting an idea that "proper" OS's, Like Solaris / Unix are more reliable because there is an interface that stops user-space mistakes migrating into kernel-space. This is obviously flawed, as anyone who's ever made a system call with incorrect parameters will know. Or anyone who's application sits, waiting on an I/O to a networked device can see - after that device (or the network) has gone away.

In theory, what he proposes has merit. A reliable, resilient, impenetrable, wall between the two. However faults in device drivers and poorly written code, APIs or bad implementations mean we never get this in practice.

And then there's the performance issue. Moving between kernel and user space takes time. The more checks, tests and privilege validaions you put in place, the longer it takes. (I recall that Sun moved their telnet server from user-space to kernel-space in the 90's for this very reason) and the slower your machine gets when you scale up to production levels of load.

One area that he does flag up is the ability to debugger your applications. But isn't this just a function of the tools that (would) be built into a unikernel? If they aren't there now, that doesn't mean they couldn't be in the future. It might even bring about the return of hardware based debugging - which has the advantage of sitting outside the running system and therefore not affecting it's performance or logic flow.

3
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The last time Earth was this hot hippos lived in Britain (that’s 130,000 years ago)

Pete 2

So what are we supposed to think?

Although it's a given that the Earth is getting warmer, the "approved" belief is that is could only be a bad thing.

After reading this piece, there is doubt. Are we really warding off an ice-age? If so, surely that's good and if a bunch of ugly insects and a few cute, furry, things can't cope - well that's life! Many more ugly insects and cute furry things would become extinct in an ice-age, so aren't we doing them a favour?

The real issue seems to be OMG! Change is happening! We're scared of change! We must stop it!". Without anyone being able to run the model forward to work out what the options or outcomes of more or less global warming would be. Maybe we should be cranking up the CO2 and CH4 emissions¹ - just think of the cute furry animals.

[1] Just add water to make booze and free oxygen. What's not to like?

11
2

Full of fear at work: Blame the boss, or yourself?

Pete 2

When to panic .... and when to stop

> When we are afraid, we have only our intuition and built-in responses to draw on.

And we all know that "intuitive" answers, in IT, are frequently wrong and rarely the best choice.

However, when it hits the fan a good bit of JFDI style panicking can work wonders. So long as it's limited to digging yourself out of the mire. The crucial next step is to know when to stop panicking and start on the first stage of recovery: the witch hunt learning, and ensuring something similar won't happen again.

However, when organisations are crisis-driven and seem to be continually reacting to one problem or another, then someone - someone very high up - needs to recognise this as a failure of management and to step in (or find a new position).

The sad thing is, that so many IT shops these days are so hidebound with processes, reviews, buy-in, "quality" (ha!), and all the other buzz-word stages that get between a dam' good idea and making it happen that it's often more rewarding, much less effort and a lot of fun to move the fan closer to the brown stuff - and instead of avoiding problems, let them happen and then be a superhero. After all, who doesn't like a good panic every now and again?

3
1

$30 webcam spun into persistent network backdoor

Pete 2

Re: Second hand kit

> The attacker might not always get the device into a juicy target, but whats the risk/cost? Buy it second hand, flash, resell for much the same price.

The place this is most likely to happen is with used phones. Yet we don't hear of it. We do hear of people buying s/h phones and finding all the stuff from the previous owner still on it, so it's clear that there are many people who have neither the knowledge nor the inclination to protect their privacy.

I'd use the phone market as the "canary in the coalmine" for this sort of thing. It's a bigger market and therefore potentially more open to exploitation. The buyers seem to be an order of magnitude less savvy and the scope for illicit gain is much greater.

3
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Pete 2

Applies to everything?

So, the guy reflashed a commercial product and added a backdoor.

What was special about this particular camera, that couldn't be applied to pretty much any device capable of being upgraded by its owner or a potential baddie? [ See below for the answer ]

ISTM the only "weakness" on this device is that the researcher was able to work out how it worked and to add code that didn't screw up it's operation (although given the parlous state of the software on some of these cheapo cameras, it's difficult to say what "normal operation" actually is).

As for

> A fix would require a Trusted Platform Module or specialised chip to verify software updates.

That's not going to happen, so it's probably best that these devices remove the upgrade / reflash option (although how you'd stop people whipping the lid off and reflashing through the internal programming / debug interface, I do not know). Alternatively, since this device can already be hacked to run OpenWRT (why? FFS!), maybe the easy access and hackability that Linux provides is becoming more of a liability than a benefit?

0
2

'Personalised BBC' can algorithmically pander to your prejudices

Pete 2

So we'll still have 500 channels full of crap

> Rather than taking the viewer beyond their prejudices or acquired experiences, it’s confining the viewer within the prejudices and experiences that they have already acquired

So very like choosing which newspaper to read?

Although I would fully expect that the prospect of tailoring programme content to individuals will be far too difficult and expensive. Rather, this technology will merely become a way of tailoring advertising to the punter.

4
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Most businesses collecting data they never use, survey finds

Pete 2

The natural balance

> Most companies ... collect data they never use,

That's OK. Most people provide data that is completely made up.

4
0

LHC records biggest bang ever with 1 Peta-electron-volt jolt

Pete 2

Re: Theoretically there are quark stars.

> The article you cite says that their existence has not been confirmed theoretically.

All right then, how about this:

Theoretically, there there are theoretically Quark stars.

1
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Outsourcer didn't press ON switch, so Reg reader flew 15 hours to do the job

Pete 2

Need I continue?

> pressed the eject button on the floppy drive and went home

The lone techie in a far away office was instructed to insert *the* one and only diagnostics CD into the drive of a rather large server box to determine what the fault was. The CD drive didn't have a tray to put the disc in, it had a slot that you pushed the CD into. sadly, there was a small gap in the chassis just under the CD drive.

13
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Ofcom asks: Do kids believe anything they read on the internet?

Pete 2

Just the kids?

from the report:

> Figure 55: Childrens belief in the truthfulness in [ social media ] websites ... 28% of 12-15's think "all or most is true"

How many people read this article and thought it was true?

0
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Second UK teen suspect arrested over TalkTalk hack

Pete 2

The fly on the wall.

You can imagine the scene inside Talk Talk's IT department:

The IT boss is there, yelling at his/her/its subordinates: "Your (note the shifting of ownership) security was so crap that even children could break into it! Maybe I should sack the lot of you and employ some kids, instead?"

and from the back of the room comes the anonymous, quiet reply: "We've been telling you it was hopeless for years, but you management did nothing about it. Maybe we should replace the management team with some script kiddies who know the importance of security in IT systems?"

20
1

US military personnel investigated for splashing $96,576 on strippers

Pete 2

£30 for a whole weekend - brilliant!

The last stripper I hired was fantastic. Cheap, Friday night to Monday morning. Very easy to get along with. Did exactly what I expected and left the living room walls completely undamaged and free of wallpaper.

Thoroughly recommended.

40
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Journos to be spared replacement by robots, BBC claims

Pete 2

They would say that, wouldn't they?

Journalist writes article saying journalists won't be replaced by machines.

The triumph of hope over experience, or was that article already written by a computer?

Although I can see a large number of sub-editors being replaced, After all it can't be that difficult to automate the spelling / grammar / fact-checking aspect, can it?

The two rules for defending your job against all-comers, including automation:

1.) Don't tell them everything you know.

2.) Well, that would be telling. Wouldn't it?

2
0

Look! Up in the sky! It's letters on a plane read with a 250MP camera

Pete 2

New year's resolution

The abilty to read small stuff a long way away is a function of the pixel size and focal length (magnification, to the layman) of the lens. Not the number of pixels on the sensor. That will increase your field of view, but not your resolution.

It's still an impressive chip. Gimme call when I can get the colour version in my DSLR for < (a grand).

2
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Spanish developers strike gold with ‘Mr Mayor’ dodgy dealings gaming app

Pete 2

Amateurs!

> Players are encouraged to bribe, do deals with drugs lords, set up shady contacts with weapons traders, flash money around and make a killing, all without getting caught.

What a real corrupt person would have done would be to claim this was a training programme, not a video game and then applied for a grant to develop it.

5
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Pete 2

> They're so going to get shut down when their own mayor hears about it and takes it personally.

Nah, they just bung him or her a couple of €50s and keep going.

(Anyway, isn't it "Alcalde" who is the top person in a spanish town hall?)

3
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Susan Sheridan, voice of Hitchhiker's Trillian, dies aged 68

Pete 2

Re: Sad Day for the Universe

> the wake will be held in the Restaurant at the end of the Universe

> Attendance by Invitation Only

And invitations may be posted to oneself from the Big Bang Burger Bar where you can also deposit 1p which, by the laws of compound interest will be more than enough to pay for the funeral service when the universe ends.

Definitely worth growing an extra arm for.

0
0

Moronic Time cover sets back virtual reality another 12 months

Pete 2

Looks and perceptions

> don't understand why Time decided to show everyone what the Oculus looks like when you're observing someone using it, instead of an illustration of what the experience of using the Oculus is like

Two obvious reasons: first, more people will see someone else using one of these than will ever use one themself. Since most people form an opinion of another (a) very quickly and (b) almost entirely based on visual perception it is important for potential buyers to be aware of how others will perceive them if they are seen wearing one of these. It's similar to buying a little motor-scooter, Segway (remember them?) or the "wrong" sort of car. It still gets you from A to B, but many will not like being the object of ridicule.

Secondly, it's impossible to depict to someone on the web, or reading a magazine, what the user-experience is like, as it will look just like the innards of any other video-game screenshot.

As a final offering, the shot also shows that the user (or wearer) is basically blindfolded while using this device. That should alert all pranksters to get their thinking-caps on as to how best take advantage of the user's predicament.

1
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Pete 2

Parallel universe?

So when will be the year of "Oculus on the desktop?"

Seriously, needing a dam' wire to connect it and generally being so big, ugly and intrusive this thing doesn't stand a chance of adoption - except by the sort who are attracted to the tech for its own sake.

Think: 3-D TV headsets, but without the attraction of content that ordinary people want to watch.

1
1

Ditch crappy landlines and start reading Twitter, 999 call centres told

Pete 2

Just don't add LOL

Tweets are fine for conveying factual information in one direction if you don't require an immediate response - or any response at all. However I would assume that the emergency services would usually like a bit more information than can be packed into such a short message - and that the additional information would depend a lot on the circumstances of the emergency.

And then we have the question of how, exactly would you report a fire in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (or even it's abbreviated form: Llanfairpwllgwyngyll) if you spell it wrong and the tweet-operator, possibly outsourced and completely unfamiliar with Anglesey and tries to Google the place you're talking about? Or, worse: your spell checker "autocorrects" your location and sends the emergency services somewhere completely different.

Personally, on the few occasions I've called for emergency assistance, the reassurance that there is actually someone there is very reassuring. To simply fire off a tweet and maybe (or not) get a response sometime doesn't seem very helpful.

8
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Unlucky, Palmer: Facebook's going to BAN Oculus pr0n apps

Pete 2

Sabotage your own product?

> pornographic content will be forbidden from appearing on the Oculus store

Well, I suppose that's one way to kill it off.

I guess the smut-mongers will either have to wait a few weeks until there is a cheaper chinese clone on the market, or wait a day or two until someone roots the device and makes an absolute fortune for themselves with their own Succubus Rift store.

39
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Microsoft to Linux users: Explain yourself

Pete 2

Re: Just use Linux and be done with it!

> However, Microsoft could release their own Linux distribution and this would be (almost) comparable to Apple utilising similar technology in their O/S.

The thing is, no user cares, any more, what the underlying O/S is. They do care about the quality, range and ease of use of the applications they want to run.

And this is where Linux still falls down, flat on its face. Sure, it provides some apps that are said to be "compatible" - where compatible means they can read some of the same file formats and perform some of the same functions: GIMP and OpenOffice/LibreOffice are the examples used to "prove" that Linux can do anything that Windows can.

Until. that is, you actually try to do that "anything" with these free tools. Then you find that they are lacking in basic features, have such terrible UIs, simply don't work or have major bugs at the highest priority for many YEARS, that will never be fixed as the support team says: Just to be honest - it's very unlikely that this will be fixed soon. We are a community of volunteers - people fix what bugs they want to fix generally. In the grand scheme of things this really isn't a big deal - compare to crashes [ ref: https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/show_bug.cgi?id=37960&redirected_from=fdo ]

And it turns out that most Linux advocates simply don't understand that people are willing to pay for stuff that works. Everything past Windows XP has been at least as usable and reliable as Linux, supported a far wider range of peripherals and has professionally written and supported apps that actually work.

And if, like me and everyone else who works for pay, you can place a monetary value on the personal time spent dickin' about trying to dig out obscure documentation, patches, fixes and "how tos" - Linux is no longer "free" in financial terms, either.

And for those people who do want "free" AND who want simple to install, easy and intuitive to use and only costs pennies, there's always Android.

8
12
Pete 2

Data, not information

> Microsoft says it can measure 43 metrics* and spit 'em all out into a pretty, GUI-fied Azure console.

And as usual, all these monitoring tools do is find easy to record data from the kernel and present it in wizzy, pretty graphical format.

Even though it is all totally irrelevant.

Providing this is like telling a car driver the piston temperature, the headlight colour, the average pressure exerted by passengers on the seats and the methane content of the cabin. What drivers want to know is answers to the important questions, such as: am I going too fast? will something break? do I need to take corrective action?

And so it is with computer monitoring. All the monitoring services seem to be in a race (and, truth be told: have been for decades) to provide the greatest number of different measurements of obscure, irrelevant and often inter-related factors. However none of them provide anything that is of primary importance, such as: how long do I have to wait for the answer to appear? can I run something in the background without affecting the important stuff? Is there time to back my stuff up before I go for lunch?

So if Microsoft want to merely mimic all the crap that today's tools produce, they'll go down the metrics route. Even though most of the stuff is irrelevant, has little effect on the BIG QUESTIONS and in itself (without knowing what the applications are doing) provides nothing of value. As all the other monitoring tools that have come, promised and then disappeared into oblivion have done since the 1980s (remember "sar" and "vmstat"?).

However, if they want to truly provide something that is useful, user-centric and actionable they will extract I-O data (volume, latency, cache efficiency) on a per-file basis. Query times broken down into CPU, storage and network latency. Internet access times by site (or IP address), memory usage per processs - identifying shared, CoW'd and local volumes - best of all - a calculation of how much "slack" is available in these key areas for users to fill up with additional workloads.

All of this is hard. And most of it is not available from Unix or Linux kernels without a lot of hacking about. If it was easy then the dozens of other capacity planning / performance monitoring programs, companies and freeware would have done it years ago. However they have all failed to produce information that users value - which is the tricky bit, but, ultimately, all that matters.

10
1

The weapons pact threatening IT security research

Pete 2

Oppress "1" to start

> stop repressive regimes around the world from buying sophisticated software that can be used to spy on political opponents and others

But it's only repressive regimes who WANT to spy on "political opponents and others¹"

[1] where "others" would imply everyone who isn't a political opponent. So that has pretty much all of us covered.

1
0

Virgin Galactic will get into space 'within 18 months to two years'

Pete 2

Re: And we should give a Rat's Arse about this why?

> It's simply some disgustingly expensive carnival attraction.

First of all, the money is NOT destroyed, it's merely moved from one individual who has too much to a company that is at the very least doing something that no-one has done before (or yet). Making progress, if you will.

Although it won't get us to Mars or the Moon, it's investing in technologies and techniques that make space travel better, cheaper, (hopefully) safer and more accessible. That adds to the sum total of moving in the right direction and is probably better for us all and the person involved than other ways of blowing the same amount of cash.

8
0
Pete 2

The spacefaring equivalent of 2 weeks?

Whenever someone asks when a piece of software will be ready (or any other IT goal met, for that matter) the standard response is that it'll take "another couple of weeks".

That is long enough to make progress - possibly even get close to something that works. It's also long enough in the future that you can hope whoever you made the commitment to will have forgotten. It's also close enough to satisfy the person asking, without them criticising or objecting too much.

Of course, it's incredibly unlikely that you will have it all sorted by then - but when they come back you can say "oh there were a few complications, but I reckon it should be ready in a week ..... or two"

5
0

Intel imagines chips in nappies to create the Internet of sh*t things

Pete 2

At last!

A real-life implementation of Sturgeon's Law

1
0

Back to the Future: the internet of things as imagined in 1985

Pete 2

Re: Why the obsession....

> Why the obsession with using smartphones as remotes?

It's arguable that a true IoT device shouldn't even need a remote. In fact, most of them shouldn't need a person to tell them what to do, at all.

Take an IoT'd lightswitch as an example. Instead of a boring old PIR to detect the presence of people and then turn the light on or off accordingly, a better solution is to design in a $5 ultrasonic Doppler sensor to detect the direction of people: into or out of the room. When $number_of_people == 0 OR $light_level > daylight then turn off the lights.

All that this obsession with remote controls does is to add one more level of indirection into the equation. Instead of a person making a physical action to control a device, they are now required to do so by means of another piece of equipment. As a design concept it's as daft as calling for your butler to do these trivial things for you: more trouble than it's worth, so I'm told.

3
0

RAF radar station crew begs public for cash to buy gaming LAN kit

Pete 2

Buy your way in

Let's just sit back and see how long it is until the station receives a donation of LAN equipment from, say, Iran, the PRC or N. Korea. I'm sure it would all be perfectly fine and that there would be no chance it would have any backdoors, bugs, covert comms channels, spyware or other nasties.

2
4

Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

Pete 2

Re: 3% margin of error

Although the pollsters claim a 3% margin, that is clearly shown to be false. You just have to look at the results of the various polls, where the spread from one poll to another was much greater than 3%. When Sky News was broadcasting before the election they had a rolling graphic on the screen that summarised the most recent polls. Looking at the numbers as they went by, one could see that few of the polls were within 3% of each other.

It would be easy to dismiss the spread by saying that the polls were taken on different days. However, if there really was so much variation: one day to the next, then the pollsters were measuring a quickly changing variable to too high a degree of accuracy. The poll might have been accurate to the stated degree, but its shelf-life at that accuracy was so short that it was probably obsolete before it was even published.

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Pete 2

Measure what you value ...

... don't value what you measure.

> This put Tories and Labour within a whisker of one another around the 34 per cent mark.

But that's an irrelevant statistic. Who wins a First Past the Post election (as we have in the UK, designed primarily to produce clear, if somewhat less than truly representative, outcomes) is the party with the most seats, not the most votes.

The system is supposed to be highly sensitive (there's only 1 winner, whether the majority is 1 or 10,000) to small differences in numbers of votes between the most voted for and the next candidate.

Everyone: the pollsters, the media who commissioned them and the general public all know this. So to huff and puff and say "well, we were almost right with a measurement of something that's useless" is a ridiculous defence.

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ISS 'naut: How we collect our POO and DROP it FLAMING on hapless Earthlings

Pete 2

Dropping in.

Further proof, as every pigeon will tell you, that being higher up the gravity well¹ beats being higher up the food-chain.

[1] provided of course you're in a self-sufficient environment and not dependent on those below.

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Tesla's battery put in the shade by current and cheaper kit

Pete 2

Double or quit

And if you really are off-grid and rely on this technology to keep you powered up, you'll need a backup in case of failure (guarantees are nice, but they don't keep the lights on and if it takes a week to deliver a replacement to your remote, off-grid location ... ), or for those times when your "old" battery is being replaced.

The thing about multiple LA batteries is just that: you already have the makings of a resilient solution. Or at least one that can operate at reduced levels, rather than being a single all-or-nothing proposition.

So, as with all H.A. systems: computer or home, the cost of a truly reliable system is a multiple of the cost of a single purchase.

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High-speed powerline: Home connectivity without the cables

Pete 2

The IoT thing

> a fan of the Internet of Things (IoT)

If you're a true geek you'll be rolling your own IoT out of ESP8266's and looking seriously at the possibility of configuring them as a mesh network. Given that they are < £5 a pop, any geek's house should have these in every room (they also work as wifi APs and stations) and should be hooked in to the home internet, too.

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