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* Posts by Pete 2

2310 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH

Pete 2
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Just to make it interesting

What we need now is a race.

If yachts can mount round the world races, there should be scope for HAB-ers (?) to do the same. Hopefully at much lower cost.

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Thirteen Astonishing True Facts You Never Knew About SCREWS

Pete 2
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The unanswered question

Nice article.

Though I was disappointed there was no explanation about why a dropped screw *always* finds its way either into the deepest, darkest crevice or is attracted by the universe's strongest force which ensures it ends up electrically shorting the two most sensitive (and expensive) exposed current-carrying pieces of metal in the room?

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4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles

Pete 2
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Cut or compress

There are two ways to reduce the quality of TV.

You can either fill up the airspace with cheap, crap programmes that nobody watches and repeats that are repeatedly repeated -- or -- you can compress the crap out of the signals until you are left with blocky, distorted pictures and sound that nobody watches, but for different reasons.

At present we are still in the infancy of digital TV and are only just starting to realise that "choice" is not all it's cracked up to be. It appears that "choice" means watching this prime-time soap, or that one - or watching the Commonwealth games on either BBC1 or BBC3, or a celebrity quiz or a celebrity reality show. The quantity has increased, but the breadth has not.

If there is to be a "crunch" where the frequencies available for TV is greatly reduced, we may well find that viewers are not willing to put up with both bad programmes and poor picture quality. At that point, it might just happen that broadcasters start to offer a greater variety of programmes that are low-bandwidth friendly - such as without the fast scene-changes or lots of action that programme makers edit in to programmes to give the impression of quality, dynamism and attractiveness.

Though I can't ever see them axing all the repeats.

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Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees

Pete 2
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Re: No Surprise

> there is no such thing as climate science

You'd be surprised how many people study things that don't exist.

For a start: philosophy. You can't point to it or observe any side-effects of its existence (or not, he said - getting all philosophical). Art is another one that exists only in the mind of the individual, yet everyone has an opinion of it and lots and lots (too many?) of degrees are awarded in it every year,

Finally, there's history: which the renowned (and gorgeous) tudor historian Suzannah Lipscomb has gone on telly to tell us is: "the study of something that doesn't exist"

So simply because something doesn't exist is no reason why people shouldn't dedicate their lives (and lots of other people's money) to its' study. After all, if something doesn't exist; nothing you say about it can be wrong, can it?

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Pete 2
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Tax attacks

> some consensus as to what is really happening.

What is really happening is that the government has identified a "thing" that the general public believe in and that they believe it is a bad thing -- one that should be stopped.

In other words, reducing carbon emissions is not only popular but taxable too - as british governments only know one way to curb "bad" behaviour: booze, ciggies, CO2: and that's to tax it.

If that new revenue stream just happens to avert a global crisis while raising loads-a-lolly? So much the better, they can take full credit for that, as well

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Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)

Pete 2
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Amortise

> Rocket Lab's low-cost launcher ... will cost less than $5m

So if a single launcher can be built for $5 Mil, how much are the development costs going to be - and what happens to the cost-of-launch if the project can't fling 100 units a year into the sky?

I haven't a clue what it would cost to develop a new, commercial launcher from scratch - but lets make a WAG¹ at about $1Bn (which sounds incredibly low - you'd think NASA would have new launchers coming out of it's ... if they were that cheap to design and develop). then over 10 years his repayments will be about $10 M per month at 5%. So at 100 launches a year, that's a smidge over $1M per launch in finance costs. And then there's all the overheads, on top.

Personally, I'm skeptical.

[1] Wild Assed Guess - the foundation of all government, economic and commercial proposals

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LOHAN's stirring motto: Ad Astra Tabernamque

Pete 2
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MMXIV or 11111011110

Don't forget to add the date so when the future archaeologists dig up the bits that went missing, they'll at least know when little plastic people first tried to invade colonise the stratosphere

Footnote: Oh look. Next year (2015) is a mirror image year 11111011111

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'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter

Pete 2
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Expect nothing less

... when you have policing by keyword detection.

The basic problem is that there is such a hair-trigger approach and such a complete over-reaction. No doubt this will tick the counter for "the police service foiled X computer related terror plots". And since there is no such thing as a trivial cyber-crime incident, that this will be filed in the reports along with other "mastermind" and "criminal genius" (compared to the skills of yer avrige detective) records.

Though I suppose that in the land of the plod, the one-fingered typist is king.

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Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in

Pete 2
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Not what the plan said

> It is 25 July, and that means it's Systems Administrators Appreciation Day

It was scheduled to be March 31st, but somehow it kept getting delayed.

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NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'

Pete 2
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Re: "Has anyone put anything in your luggage without your knowledge?"

In the spirit of the question, I reckon the answer:

"Anyone? No!"

is both strictly true and suitably vague.

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Pete 2
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We know, you know.

> Yet I have often wondered at that peculiar question...

> “Tell me about your Turkish connections.”

It's simple enough. All it means is that they already knew who you were, where you had been and that information had triggered a request for a spook to "spook" you at the airport with a seemingly random (ha!) check. They already had your description. They already knew you'd been to some place that shared a border with Iraq. The "stop" wasn't random and the question about Turkey was a pre-planned, gentle reminder for you, that you were on their radar.

Your answer was irrelevant as the message (we know you) had already been delivered. That's all it was about.

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Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves

Pete 2
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Re: OzLaw

> They will be the first to follow the USA in that regard

I would agree, except that the USA has stumbled upon an unusual "safeguard" against this sort of thing. They have constructed a form of government with two "houses". One is generally "ruled" by one faction and the other house is normally ruled by the other. They also have a president who (apart from being able to, allegedly, press a big red button) is essentially a figurehead - who spends most of his (or maybe next time: her) time in office either repaying election promises, or trying to get re-elected - and for 2 years out of every 4 year term, is impotent as it takes more than that time to get a law through both of their houses.

The upshot being that for all their commercial power, military might and media dominance, they stand little chance of actually changing anything within their own political system. Which could be why their companies, military and financial systems have become so powerful.

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Pete 2
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OzLaw

Whenever I read an article about some new law "down under", I'm left with the lasting impression that their government makes some startlingly bad (for it's citizens and for liberty, in general) decisions for all the wrong reasons - and enacts laws that are some of the most restrictive in the free world.

Will Oz be the first country to slide, gradually from democracy to totalitarianism? Will it even be a willing journey made with little protest or remark, until it's all too late?

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Experts gathered round corpse of PC market: It's ALIVE! Alive, we tell you

Pete 2
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Re: Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

> Where the bagel have you been?

I've been here, safe in PC-Land.

As for Mac's, I consider them a bit like Herpes: lots of people talk about it but almost nobody has any direct experience of it. And long may it stay like that! <g>

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Pete 2
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Reports of its death are greatly exaggerated

Over 80 million PCs shipped!

No, that's not last year's (2013) total - that's just the last quarter.

Since we know that when they ship 16 million units a year, nobody talks about the demise of the Mac market [ source: macworld.com ], we can safely say that the PC market could shrivel by 95% and it would still be bigger than that.

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White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!

Pete 2
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Fun and games with numbers and their meaning

Strictly speaking, in america, MEN are a minority.

in the United States — 143.4 million of whom were female and 138.1 million male

However, regarding race and recruitment. One issue is that a company can only recruit from the applicants it gets. So apart from looking at the diversity of people actually in the company, any properly conducted research should also consider the make-up of the people who apply for the advertised positions (if it's even possible, moral or legal to have that information - if not, you can't really draw many worthwhile conclusions).

If the same proportion of young, white, males in jobs is the same as the proportion who apply for jobs, the disqualification is being applied elsewhere - not in the recruitment or retention policies. Simply put, the whole issue is far to complex to be summarised in a headline, a Powerpoint presentation, or maybe even by the little brains of the H.R. department.

It may be, for example, that many people from diverse backgrounds don't actually want to work for Twitter.

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You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary

Pete 2
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Todays "reminder" leads to tomorrows prosecution

> nag subscribers when their accounts appear to have been used to access pirated material.

This might sound laughably ineffective now. However, laws change. We also have some insidious situations where people are threatened with prosecution for things that weren't illegal in the past. There are now cases where (retrospective) legislation is in place to "recover" taxes from people who legally managed to avoid paying it in the past.

[ref: http://metro.co.uk/2012/02/27/retrospective-law-sets-a-dangerous-path-3822883 ]

What's to stop the same thing happening with this - especially as the government appears to be giving this initiative its blessing?

We know that BIG MEDIA cares little about justice (except the "justice" of getting paid) and it's not inconceivable that all those "nags" you collected in the past and laughed about, could magically, when enough political donations have been made, be turned into retroactive laws that bite you in the nuts.

It wouldn't take much for a public campaign, along the lines of "minimising your tax bill is bad" metamorphosing into "avoiding the right amount of tax is illegal" to change "you really shouldn't be downloading all this stuff" into "Kerrr-ching. Here's a back-dated bill for all that stuff you've stolen P.S. We'll take your house - or the ISP account holder's house - if you don't pay".

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There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES

Pete 2
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Re: Europeans have no guns?

> 4 of the top 10 and 10 of the top 20 countries

it's not whether they have guns, it's whether they are so gung-ho about shooting their fellow citizens, either on the smallest pretext or simply by accident "I thought he was an intruder". That only happens because they are so pathologically scared of every little thing in everyday life that they simply must strap one on just to go for breakfast.

Though it's not the guns that are the problem.

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Pete 2
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We have all the TV we need

Let's see what's on the box.

The major UK terrestrial channels (BBC1 & 2, ITV and juuuuust about Channel 4) show repeats about half the time. And if you count the "+1" channels, 247 and everything that is shown once on the "prime" channels and then shunted off to Dave, Gold, ITVx, More 4 and all the other filler channels - the vast majority of terrestrial TV (and an even greater proportion of satellite channels) is repeats. For the "majors", these are mostly during "daytime" when few are watching. Otherwise it's a mixture of game shows, reality stuff, sports, things we laughingly call "documentaries" (which generally consist of someone vaguely famous on a "journey" and constantly repeating, everything they've told us in the past 5 minutes), some period drama, quizzes, celeb chat, cooking and soaps.

Would it matter if none of these were contemporary programmes, but just repeats from 10 or 20 or 30 (or 40) years ago?

OK. For the sports and news programmes, it might. But for all the rest: does it matter if the petty criminals we watch arguing with each other, in the weekday early evening slot, are yelling about something we haven't heard before, or are fighting over some minor inconvenience from 1991?

The same could be asked about quiz shows. The answers will still be the same. We'll still be rooting for contestant X, Y or Z merely on the basis that they look like aunt Betty, or are wearing a nice shirt.

We know that most new programmes are crap. Why else would the BBC constantly repeat programmes like Dad's Army? the latest episode to be shown (BBC2 8:30pm last saturday) was from 1970. Forty four years old, and the Beeb still can't find anything for a saturday evening that draws a bigger audience.

So, apart from the small amount of stuff who's value is down to its newness: news, weather and sport, why don't the major channels just quit making new programmes and simply resort to transmitting all their old stuff (sans those hosted by convicts, or other disgraced individuals). They should just admit defeat in the realisation that they can't make decent telly any more and start a 25 year long loop of old broadcasts, In fact, given that anyone under the age of 30-ish would find it new and novel anyway, it would probably be more successful that the current crop of programmes.

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Why has sexy Apple gone to bed with big boring IBM?

Pete 2
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Re: and the little one said "roll over"

> Samsung just make them. They are not co-developed in any way, shape or form.

No, far from it. The chips use Samsung's process. it's a far closer relationship than Apple simply casting about for the cheapest price to make something that is entirely their own, 100% internally produced, design.

Just as the Apple PowerPC chips were based on IBM's I.P and they couldn't have been produced without IBM's partnership.

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Pete 2
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and the little one said "roll over"

> how far apart "cool" Apple once was from "legacy" IBM

Not as far as you'd ever think.

Even in those faraway days when Apple computers were "cool", they still depended totally on IBM for their PowerPC processors.

So while Apple likes to present itself to the media as being trendy, innovative and iconic it's important to remember that it always has been and still is today, dependent on other large (if generally out-of-sight) suppliers of parts and services for the success of its business.

Whether that was boring old IBM to provide Apple with processors that it couldn't make itself, or far-eastern sweatshops to do its assembly or even getting into bed with it's arch rival (Samsung) to share in developing iPhone processors.

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FORGOTTEN Bing responds to search index ECJ ruling: Hello? Remember us?

Pete 2
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Re: Bing Is Not Google

Crikey! 3 thumbs down. I'm impressed and slightly flattered that Bing managed to muster it's entire user base to support its position.

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Pete 2
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Bing Is Not Google

As far as being forgotten goes, maybe someone filed a request on behalf of the Bing executives for their whole search engine to be forgotten. They certainly got their wish.

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That stirring LOHAN motto: Anyone know a native Latin speaker?

Pete 2
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Verbiage

Just about the only feature of Latin I can remember is that almost always, the verb comes at the end of the sentence.

If the sentence, like Yoda-speak, becomes? Well: too bad, that is.

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Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot

Pete 2
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Disposable passwords for disposable accounts

> The trio argue that password reuse on low risk websites is necessary in order for users to be able to remember unique and high entropy codes chosen for important sites

I've been doing this for years something over 30 years, if you take bulletin boards into account as well as internet accounts.

Take a normal website or forum. Maybe one that you post the occasional message, plea for help or stooopid comment about the current government. It requires a password in order to register. It contains none of your personal information since nobody ever uses their real names, gives a birth date of 01-01-66 (or whatever else is easiest to type) and Afghanistan (it's the first one on the list) as their "home" country. So on that basis, there's nothing there to compromise and nothing there that you value. Plus, if you have been using the internet for any length of time, you will have used a disposable email address to receive the one, single confirmation message that the site sends you.

So for the everyday websites, where registration is merely a chore, using the same password is both sensible and convenient.

It also separates those sites from the high-value, important accounts like El Reg your bank, PayPal or Amazon account. Here, where accurate information is necessary (you don't want all your Amazon purchases to end up in Afghanistan), it makes sense to use a more rigorous password regime. It also makes sense to use completely different email addresses, so that SPAM sent to your "ordinary" accounts can't be mistaken for administrative emails from someone who holds your real persona data,

So yes, stick with one password for the mundane stuff. Use it everywhere for decades. Even if it gets stolen, it won't unlock anything you value - provided you use different passwords and email accounts for them.

But also, have multiple email addresses. Preferably your own domain. Just as you separate high-value passwords from zero-values ones, do the same with emails and keep all the ones you don't care about on Spamgourmet or another disposable service. Not only does it make changing ISP so much easier if all your contacts aren't bound to their email system, but it also means there's no chance of "cross-polluting" your friends contacts with SPAM from a zero-value website that has sold your email address to a hacker.

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NASA: ALIENS and NEW EARTHS will be ours inside 20 years

Pete 2
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> We will always need to wear protective suits

Or "skin" as future us's might get to call it.

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Pete 2
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Promises, promises

> “I think in the next 20 years we will find out we are not alone in the universe,”

So is that the same "20 years" time period by which we'll have commercial nuclear fusion?

Or is it like the "two weeks" forecast for when we'll have that software ready. I.e. soon enough to keep the hope alive and keep the boss off our backs, but far enough away that by the time the forecast / deadline arrives, there will be a new and credible reason why it'll take just another couple of weeks

As for:

> "Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life," concurred Matt Mountain, a top space telescope boffin

I think what he means is "Just imagine all the new research grants we'll get to confirm or refute the existence of extraterrestrial life (depending on which religion / industrialist is paying for it). Just imagine all the publicity we'll be able to generate and all the talk shows we'll be invited onto. I might just have to change my name to Majikthise".

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Can it be true? That I hold here, in my mortal hand, a nugget of PUREST ... BLACK?

Pete 2
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Which pub?

> We raced down to the pub and had a lightbulb moment."

'cos I want a pint of this "Lightbulb"

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BitTorrent not to blame for movie revenues, says economist

Pete 2
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Cause or effect

> file sharing arrivals shortly before the theatrical opening have a modest positive effect on box office revenue

So the implication is that studios should be paying the filesharers for the benefit they confer?

I think this is one example of why people take the piss out of economists and their prognostications.

If you only look at the dates and numbers, without applying a small dose of common sense, you could arrive at this conclusion.

Just because the studio's value blips upwards when successful films start to get downloaded is really just an indication that whatever is driving the price, also drives the download activity. Presumably both effects are driven by the pre-release "buzz" generated for the film: both from reviewers and the trailers. All this tells us is that the filesharers have access to pretty much all the new releases, whenever they please - and choose to put them on torrents when the film looks like being a success.

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LOHAN seeks stirring motto for spaceplane mission patch

Pete 2
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Sound advice for a scary mission

> a stirring motto à la "Audentes fortuna adiuvat".

Well, since it's got to be in Latin, just so's it sounds impressive (all Latin stuff sounds impressive until you translate it), then I would humbly submit

Semper ubi sub ubi

as any fule kno

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El Reg nips down IKEA's 'I've Got A Screw Loose Street'

Pete 2
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Better than FYRKANTIG Close

> IKEA asked its Facebook fans to vote on a name for the new road

Presumably a close second was: How the hell do I get out of here? Avenue

which narrowly beat: Dam' I forgot the handles Way

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UK's emergency data slurp: IT giants panicked over 'legal uncertainty'

Pete 2
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A Friday afternoon upgrade

> rush an emergency ... Bill through Parliament just seven days before MPs break for summer recess

Every support person's nightmare:

It's 10 to 5, Friday afternoon. You've filled in your timesheet and your expenses. You've closed the trouble-ticket system and then ... the phone rings.

"Hello, this is Fred from <your biggest customer> Inc. I wonder if you can help me. I've been trying to get this upgrade to work all week as we have to go live on Monday morning. I know I've left it a bit late but could you help me as I really need it working by Monday?"

As so it goes with legislation: if you're going to enact new laws, then give yourself time to work out all the bugs in it before you bugger off on holiday until October. And if this "emergency patch" is needed because your last attempt was found to be unlawful, all the more reason to make sure someone is there to fix your cock-up if this version suffers the same shortcomings.

But do they learn? Do they hell!

And regarding the five-o'clock call? The answer is the usual: "Sure, why don't you email me all the details, logs and config files and I'll see what I can do <click>" followed by the sound of running in the corridors.

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Today's Facebook fury: Coppertone-like baby pic ban baffles US mom

Pete 2
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Asymmetric laws and asymmetric justice

> As an example of this, it is an offence in France to insult a public official

Having something illegal in one part of the world and legal in another is just one, small, part of the issue. The other is enforcement.

Without enforcement, laws mean nothing - as anyone who's accidentally stuck an upside-down stamp on a letter¹ will be relieved to know. Likewise, if a resident of one sovereign nation commits an offence in another country, if makes little difference unless the "victim" country presses for extradition and the "home" country grants it. Sadly for us, the UK seems to regard shipping individuals off to be tried in other places, sometimes on the flimsiest of pretexts and with scant evidence of a case to answer, to be a means of saving money by outsourcing law enforcement, rather than a duty of protecting it's own citizens' rights.

So, apart from the question of "is it legal", there should be a bigger question of "will anyone care enough to do anything about it?"

Further, we are all told that ignorance of the law is no defence. However, it would appear that we are now all personally responsible for knowing all the laws in every country (and in every language, too) else we could find that an innocent typo means something completely blasphemous (to take an example) in some place we've never heard of - and we're about to become the new "friend" of an inmate in a jail on a distant continent.

It does seem to me that this state of affairs is neither practical nor just. Law-abiding people who innocently transgress some foreign diktat via their internet activity should not become criminals, simply because some faraway place objects something they have published. Conversely, there are some behaviours that are quite legal elsewhere, that we - or others - would find objectionable.

What is the answer? Well, short of every country burying their differences and coming up with a common legal framework, judiciary and scale of punishments, I can see none. With the possible exception of making the whole enforcement issue moot by ensuring that your internet activity cannot be traced back to you - though that in itself is probably illegal somewhere.

[1] The 10 stupidest laws - though #6 might even be worth getting pregnant for.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1568475/Ten-stupidest-laws-are-named.html

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The Windows 8 dilemma: Win 8 or wait for 9?

Pete 2
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Re: Time for some truly revolutionary GUIs?

> Pretend that the hard problem has been solved

> There's a subtle but significant difference ...

I agree. However, the key is to not think of this as any one form of input supplanting all others.

The whole "secret" is to provide an interface than can utillise many forms of input, depending on what is suitable, optimum or even physically possible (given the range of physical limitations that people can have).

I also agree about emails - and also about forum posts. However ISTM there are many flame-wars that start or get out of control because purely textual content doesn't convey intonation, jocularity, seriousness or any other emotions. So it's left up to the reader to guess, ascribe or project the emotional content of written content - depending on the mood they are in - or what medication they are (or should be) taking. On the opposite side, I wonder how much "confusion" has occurred from people typing "not" when they mean "now" and vice-versa?

Other forms of interface could also empower automatic translation: thus enlarging the sphere of communications and (as Douglas Adams pointed out) vastly increasing the scope for confusion and misinterpretation to global proportions.

We also need to remember, that most of the working practices that we have now, are the result of the limitations of the tools we have available. A greater number of forms of interaction would also expand the form and content of the material we produce with it. I think that's why so many comments here are so scornful of voice as the only alternative: they have not considered that practices, content and form will evolve and adapt as more possible ways of interacting become available. Throat or ear microphones (which have been around for decades) and maybe sub-auditory sensing methods being the obvious response to all the nay-sayers.

What we need to do is look over the parapet and use our imaginations. Instead of saying "such-n-such will never work because ... (of limitations that only exist in the present, or in our minds) " and look for ways to improve things and THEN to look for ways to implement them. Rather than for people to always stick with what they are familiar with and rejecting all new possibilities, simply because they don't like change.

The one thing we know about IT is that change DOES happen - except in the world of UIs, where we still seem to be stuck with 19th century manual input formats and 1970's style GUIs and mice. And it seems to be the GUIs that account for all the criticism that W8 has attracted. You'd hope that soeone, somewhere would be trying to break away from all that.

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Pete 2
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Re: Time for some truly revolutionary GUIs?

> Voice control, are you mad? My office is already noisy enough.

did you forget to read this bit?

So the user can write, speak or draw their request ...

It's a case of horses for courses and market forces. Many here seem to think I'm advocating voice activated input as the only option. The point is to choose the appropriate solution for the situation: not to fixate on one, that would not be suitable for some environments.

However, at the risk of repeating myself, the main issue is to have the computing device fulfill our requests - not us having to tell it how to do things. It should work that out for itself: so we'd give it the problem to solve (what we want) and it would come up with the solution (how to do it).

And assuming we've learned nothing in the 20 years since Windows 3.1 and Bob and that the amount of computing power, interfaces and sensors: Kinect, Siri, etc. available to implement something like this today would not allow far better choices and options, is simply wrong.

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Pete 2
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Time for some truly revolutionary GUIs?

Mice, touch, start menus ... how traditional ... how old-fashioned .... how computer-centric.

And by computer centric, I mean just that: having the computer: be it a PC (a "proper" computer) a phone or a tablet, at the fore of the operations.

Instead, how about putting the person or the user in the spotlight? So instead of us having to press the buttons and direct the machine to perform what we want it to, shouldn't IT be asking US what WE want. So instead of having a menu or GUI that says: these are your options: pick one, the interface asks one simple question:

What do you want to do?

So the user can write, speak or draw their request: I want to write a letter, I want to watch a film, I want to continue reading my book, I want a command line, I want to search the internet, I want to know what this (holds summat up to the camera) thing is for ...

After that, it goes away and works out how to fulfill our requests. Obviously if it is unable to do so, it should respond in a calm, cool and not-quite-remote voice to the effect "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that" Though I suppose we'd all have to change our names (or at least our accounts) to make this happen. A small price.

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Reg reader fires up Pi-powered anti-cat garden sprinkler system

Pete 2
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Prevention or cure

In my little cul-de-sac pretty much every other house has one or more cats. You can't really blame the owners, they are mostly "empty nest-ers" and have fallen into the trap of thinking that their cats are a way to be loved (how wrong they are: all the cats care about is being fed. They'll "love" whoever has the biggest tin of Kit-e-Cat).

Fortunately this is the moggy's downfall.

All it is necessary to do is patch up all the gaps in the fences and install a 6 foot garden gate on the only entrance. All the local felines are so fat and lazy that not a single one of them has the ability to scale any of the fences. One did manage to waddle along an overhanging branch and flop onto the lawn, but that path was soon closed off too.

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It's finally happened: Bloke builds BOFH-style goofing-off cattle prod

Pete 2
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Vapourwear

When you look for more info on this, there's nothing.

There are some websites that show two different 3D images of what it might (or might not) look like. There seems to be a press release which forms the source for all the media "buzz" - and that's your lot.

Apart from the obvious question: why wouldn't users simply take it off? It's difficult to see how you'd program this gizmo about what constitutes "punishable" activity. And where the battery is supposed to go. If this is merely meant to modify the behaviour of computer users - and assumes that wearers only have access to a single computer, but no tablet, or smartphone then it would be much simpler to either have the 'pooter switch itself off when the aberrant behaviour is detected, or to build the user-shocker into a mouse and electrify the buttons.

Plus: every stick needs a carrot.

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Euro banks warned off Bitcoin as Canada regulates it

Pete 2
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Trust what?

> So why should we trust the least trustworthy among us any more than the new kid on the block?

But you seem to be forgetting the golden rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules.

Governments only exist to raise revenue -- and then spend it¹. Therefore it's easy to see that they, above all others, have a vested (literally) interest in supporting the value of the currency they, and therefore by association: we, use for those transactions.

You may be suspicious of them, but where money is concerned they are extremely motivated to retain the confidence of the international markets and thus the value of the currency. So if nothing else can, that at least will keep them on the financial straight and narrow.

[1] There's also a small matter of creating laws. But that's largely irrelevant to this conversation - and anyway, we pretty much have all the laws we need. We just need to implement them better.

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Pete 2
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A matter of scale

The basic problem that I have with BTC, and the reason I won't touch it (yet?) is its sheer volatility.

While it *may* be possible (leaving aside the desirability of doing so) to buy a lot of life's basics with BTC it is a small currency: there are only about 13 million of the suckers in existence and there'll never be more than 20-odd million. Even at their current value, Bill Gates could buy all of them and barely notice, if he so chose.

They are also subject to scare stories as one major government, or exchange, or hacking group -- or whoever makes statements for or against the security, status, value or validity of the stuff. You can't base your long-term wealth on an asset who's value can drop like a rock from one year to the next.

So while it's a nice toy for people to demonstrate to the world (or their friends) how hip, trendy and down wiv' da kidz (although it's only mothers of teenagers who would say something like that) they are, it's not something I'd be willing to bet my house, my salary and my pension on. So until BTC acquires both the status and scale -- measured to the nearest TRILLION € or £, I'll stick with something that I hope will see me into my dotage.

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Booze in SPAAAACE! Brit rocket boffin preps bold stratobeer mission

Pete 2
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A dream come true

It's raining beer (and 'Pride, too!)

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Journal that published Facebook emoto-furtle study: Proper boffins get CONSENT

Pete 2
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Informed consent?

In psychological research how is informed consent even possible?

Leaving aside the basic problem that research is meant to discover new effects, psychology is a wholly imprecise science subject and the average person's understanding of it is pretty much zero. As a consequence a researcher is not qualified to either list all the possible effects (on the test subject), nor to quantify the risks of taking part - or any possible benefits, either. Nor is a lab-specimen, sorry: test subject in a position to assess whether the value they get from the experiment is worth whatever might, or might not, happen to them: either as a result or just naturally, from life.

Without that basic level of information, any consent is worth no more than "we'd like to do something to you. It probably won't (physically) hurt, but apart from that we can't make any promises". Which is probably little different from the level of personal protection that FB commits to in the Ts & Cs that nobody ever bothers to read, before they accept.

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Is there too much sex and violence on TV?

Pete 2
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What the eye don't see

> the "strongest material" broadcast well after the kids are tucked up in bed.

... and watching avidly on the tellies in their room.

Seriously, the watershed does nothing to "protect" children (most of whom have the most open-minded, flexible and resilient attitudes until they get "educated"). At best, it allows their over-protective parents to kid themselves into thinking they are being "good" parents. Mainly to brag about it with other "good" parents at the school gates - in a python-esque we were so poor ,,, sketch way, except now it's about intolerance. It's certainly not for the long-term benefits of their charges, themselves.

As for being offended by programmes content. Isn't that the sole reason so many people watch? To pretend to be shocked by the sorts of language, undress (and activities) you'd see every day if you walked through a town on the way to the beach.

You get the sneaking feeling that some people lead such dull and disconnected lives, that they don't feel alive unless there's been something "stimulating" on the box, for them to get worked up and subsequently complain about.

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Oh SNAP! Old-school '80s Unix hack to smack OSX, iOS, Red Hat?

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Security scan?

> Edited to add: Just read filik's suggestion of using the likes of:

> rm ./*

All fine and dandy, until one day when you get a sticky "dot" key and accidentally transform it into

rm /*

- even worse with the -rf option -

(don't try this at home, kids)

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Pete 2
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dot and slash

[ disclaimer: I'm not gonna try this on the production system in front of me ]

ISTM this is merely sloppy use of wildcard expansion. I have always assumed that these are easily prevented by changing the "*" argument (and root users who put that in scripts should be shot - slowly) to "./*" or $EXPLICIT_PATH/ ... which changes what is expanded by the shell from being arguments starting with a dash, into pathnames, all starting with ./<something>

P.S. If you really *were* trying to write a trapdoor into a system, surely you'd use "invisible" files with names containing backspaces or octal \000 characters?

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'Disruptive innovation' is nonsense? Not ALWAYS, actually

Pete 2
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Re: Sorry, Bell Labs...

> In what way? [ was the development of the transistor disruptive ]

Before transistors: all electronics was bulky, fragile (even metal-enveloped valves), consumed a lot of power, gave off a lot of heat, required high voltages, was expensive to build and assemble.

After transistors: electronics became miniaturised, portable, low power, low voltage, highly reliable, extremely densely packed (which allowed much higher operating frequencies). It also drove all the other miniaturising processes (such as MEMS sensors) and nano-technology that we are _starting_ to exploit, now.

These changes moved "electronics" from being one or two large brown boxes in a household and nowhere to be seen in an office, factory or shop to being everywhere and facilitating every single thing we do, being involved in the manufacture of every single thing we touch and becoming ubiquitous in the daily lives of almost every person on the planet. Even the 2Bn people who have no mains electricity rely on mobile phones to improve their lives.

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Pete 2
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Re: Sorry, Bell Labs...

> Interestingly, although these are innovative, they are not disruptive.

I would suggest that the transistor was the single most disruptive technology of the 20th century. Above nuclear power/weapons, antibiotics, air travel or even fiat money

The degree to which it opened up new possibilities and changed our way of thinking was unsurpassed.

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Pete 2
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Too much law

The biggest barrier that disruptive technologies have to face today (it was different in the past: even up to 20 years ago), is litigation.

There are a lot - the vast majority - of companies that make stuff and profit from what is here, now, today. They value the ability to make this stuff so much that they've managed to persuade the legislature of the whole dam' world to grant them patent protection of every stoooopid little idea, component, design flourish, technological variant and process they could possibly push through - and the bar is set pretty low.

As a consequence, any new improvements on existing products that small companies are foolish enough to try and promote will get stomped into the ground by queues of lawyers focused on protecting the vested interests of their behemoth paymasters. Irrespective of what benefits these innovative ideas and products might bring.

That means it's getting harder and harder - and taking longer and longer - to "disrupt" an existing incumbent. The only areas open for innovation aren't to disrupt existing, originality-squashing, products but to branch out into new areas. Areas that have no stultifying pre-existing IP and where it will take the legal smother-pillow 20 years to catch up and kill off your novel ideas. But by then, you'll be the industry dinosaur: desperately fending off all these new, warm-blooded, innovators and trying to kill them off, in the same way others attempted to do-for you a generation ago.

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We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier

Pete 2
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Improving your reproduction

All very lovely, scientific-sounding and possibly even correct.

However, it all falls by the wayside when faced with the modern fashion of compressing the dynamic range of the music source material to increase its "loudness" to make it stand out from the crowd (or now: blend is and not get left behind) when broadcast or streamed to the user.

So given that fundamental quality limitation, not to mention all the background noise in out lives, the quest for "perfection" whether in loudspeakers, amplifiers or dragging a piece of crystal across some plastic is largely futile.

As it is, for most audiophiles that I have met, the goal is not perfect audio quality. The real goal is to impress their other audiophile friends with the size and cost of their stack.

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GCSE Computing teachers cry victory as board decides NOT to bin tech teens' work

Pete 2
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Re: Assessment methods

> All candidates outsourced to India for the actual exam

and marking performed by america's electronic voting machines?

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