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* Posts by Pete 2

2371 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Curiosity's laser turns Mars rocks to 'glowing plasma'

Pete 2
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What happened next

> The unprovoked attack was the first time any off-Earth object has been subjected to investigation by laser and unleased awesome forces on a rock named “Coronation”.

The footage that NASA have kept to themselves in that a few seconds after being lasered, the rock got up and ran away

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Amazon UK to offer collection service at corner shops

Pete 2
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Isn't it time we got weekend deliveries?

Someone needs to give the courier companies a dam' good kicking - out of the 1980's.

I appreciate that they originally ran their business on fast and reliable deliveries to and from businesses - and therefore based their operations on a 9-5 / Mon-Fri schedule.

However, everyone else in the country has moved on. Those are now exactly the LEAST CONVENIENT times possible to attempt to deliver stuff to a huge proportion of the population - not to mention the times when the roads are at their most congested. We know that everyone from ASDA to pizza joints can manage to deliver stuff at weekends and outside traditional office hours, so there's no reason why the "names" in courierdom couldn't, either.

Obviously they all have a nice little earner going here: Yes, ma'am ... you want it delivered on a saturday <sound of teeth being sucked> we'll have to charge you extra. Sunday? <boggle> oh no, we don't get out of bed on sundays". Even though there is a much larger labour force of competent, willing and honest deliverers available, a lot of whom would gladly take the opportunity to have a second job.

You never know, with just the tiniest bit of organisation, initiative and customer service awareness, your Amazon consignment could well turn up with your 10 inch thin-crust.

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Watch out, PC disk drive floggers: Cloud will rust up those spinners

Pete 2
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The high cost, low speed option

> I have a Dropbox icon on my iMac

... and looking at the prices they charge, a meagre 100GB will cost you $99 per year. In antediluvian terms (i.e. before the floods in Thailand) you're buying a 1TB drive every year and only using a tenth of it. But unless you have a screamingly fast internet connection you're getting "access times" of tens of millisends - and that's presuming that (so far) few other people on your branch of the internet are contending with you for a slice of that download bandwidth. It would be even worse if you and all the other dropboxers were trying to use the same few megahertz of wifi for added wireless cool. Just wait until every bod in your road tosses they hard drives and throws money at DropBox and friends. See who'll be racing back to local hardware then!

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Bitcoinica sued for $460,000 by 'out-of-pocket' punters

Pete 2
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Printing money

> being sued by four users that claim to be owed more than $460,000.

Do you thing they'd accept BTCs instead of dollars for the settlement payout?

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Surfing far too tedious or terrifying, say Northern Irish women

Pete 2
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Getting over the hump

I'd suggest that for those older individuals the reason for ignoring the internet has less to do with difficulty, access or cost, but more to do with lousy website design (the Disabilties Discrimination Act notwithstanding), the physical constraints of using a mouse with arthritic fingers and the poor interfaces for people who have never learned to type or who find it difficult.

After all, it's completely alien to a twenty-something webdesigner to appreciate that double-clicking can take several seconds, or that the wizzy piece of flashy (if not Flash) graphics they were so proud of is utterly irrelevant to someone with poor eyesight.

Also, you have to ask: what precisely, are the advantages of the internet to someone who doesn't surf for porn, who doesn't work in IT or who's friends don't spend all their waking hours tweeting about their last fart? Maybe the elderly aren't missing out so much as have an alternative lifestyle where the internet is just another channel on daytime TV?

So with these high and artificial barriers to adoption and little benefit from it's use, maybe it's not too surprising that a large number of people have neither reason nor incentive to get online. Did I just hear Martha Lane-Fox's head explode?

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Hypersonic Waverider scramjet in epic wipeout

Pete 2
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Sunk cost

> With only one test craft remaining, ... whether or not to risk burning more expensive hardware

They've already built the craft, so there is no financial risk (except for the cost of the test flight). The question is whether they understand what went wrong on the previous 3, so that the information they've "bought" with those failures can be used to move closer to a successful trial.

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Shops 'mislead punters' over phone contract prices

Pete 2
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Old joke

What's the difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman?"

Ans; The car salesmanperson knows when they're lying.

The problem is that the minimum wage, "straight out of school and into a shiny suit" yoof that you find in phone shops¹ hasn't really got much of a clue. They'll say pretty much anything to (a) gain a sale and (b) maximise its value.

Going into a shop, or engaging with a tele-sales person to any greater level than "I want THAT ONE" will lead to disappointment and possibly bitter recriminations.

[1] and in most other sales emporiums where the products use electricity

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SurfTheChannel Brit movie pirate gets 4 YEARS' PORRIDGE

Pete 2
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What else gets you 4 years in chokey?

Well, killing someone does: Two teenagers who killed a man during a row over litter have each been sentenced to four years detention. (ref: BBC London news).

Now, arguably that's a light sentence for a 16 & a 17 y/o - though they'd expect to be out in 2 years with good behaviour. But it still bears comparison with running a dodgy website.

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Climate change blamed for rise of LIFE-DRAINING HORRORS*

Pete 2
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Re: Simple

But leave port 80 open

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Pete 2
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Hands up if you're poikilothermic?

> A study on frogs - ...if the temperature changed unpredictably, which the researchers said could have a big impact on biodiversity and humans.

Last time I checked, my body was doing a pretty good job of regulating my body temperature - an advantage I share with all other warm-blooded animals. So to say that bad things happen to (cold-blooded) frogs when the temperature changes and then to say that this could be bad for people is one hell of a stretch. Climate change or no.

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Google may face grilling by MPs over 'immoral' tax avoidance

Pete 2
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It's your money

> All big companies and rich people do this, they'll move heaven and Earth to avoid paying taxes.

> Because they're greedy. That simple.

Companies are not "greedy". They are inanimate entities with neither feelings or morals. The individuals who make the decisions regarding where to locate a company and how to arrange its tax affairs do so to maximise shareholder earnings.

So who are these shareholders, who benefit so greatly from tax avoidance? The quick and accurate answer, if you want to see one, is to look in the mirror. Yes! you and me. We contribute towards pension savings (itself a form of tax avoidance) that are paid to pension funds which invest OUR MONEY in .... you guessed it .... shares in large companies. The fund managers decide which companies to invest in by looking at company profits and earnings per share. So if you want all these large companies to "pay their fair share" of taxes, be prepared to lose a sizable chunk of your future pension payouts.

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Don't get sued or cuffed on Twitter: Read these top 10 pitfalls

Pete 2
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Mere conjecture

So when you remove all the "top 10" that contain a lawyer's favourite words and phrases (could, may, risk, might, possibly ... ) and then remove all the descriptions where no legal action has ever been brought, is there anything left?

As any right-thinking person knows, if you really, really feel an unstoppable urge to tweet something, just use a bit of common sense (yes, I realise the conflict between the "if" and the "just") and consider if you'd like someone to tweet that comment about you. Better yet, keep the thought to yourself.

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Bucks muck chuck muck-up leaks 840 email addresses

Pete 2
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suggest what would work better.

ISTM that torture has some unique advantages.

It's cheap, quick to administer, very personal and has a huge deterrent effect.

Plus, as a sideliine, you could always sell tickets to watch it.

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Pete 2
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The victim pays

The lovely thing about this is that the email recipients are council-tax payers in that area. So if the council is fined for this breach, the people who will have to foot the bill: either through increased CT to pay the fine directly, or through reduced services to make up the budget shortfall, will include the people who had their email addresses exposed.

There can't be many situations where the victim of incompetence is also the person who is punished for it, instead of the person who made the mistake. Isn't local government wonderful?

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French minister: 3 strikes anti-piracy rule a 'waste of money'

Pete 2
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Cutting off internet services

There's also the human rights aspect regarding collective punishments.

An IP connection isn't associated with a single person. It serves a household. You can't therefore deny access to all the members of that family or house simply because of the alleged wrongdoings of a single individual. Further, in a shared environment, it's not at all clear which particular individual performed the offending action. Given that not all potential users are always present it's not even clear that you require other users to grass-up the offender as it's entirely possible that they weren't aware of who downloaded what, and when.

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Pete 2
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Laws create criminals

Yes, the correlation between the number of new laws a government enacts and the rise in "criminal activity" that follows cannot be lost on the french. Surely the best way to reduce crime is to stop making things illegal?

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Why women won't apply for IT jobs

Pete 2
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The answer is in the article

So in Oz, few women work in IT and the director of the ACSF reckons it's because they don't perfectly match the wish-list in the job ad.

However, the article then goes on to contradict this opinion by citing the "pitifully low enrolment rates" into australian IT courses and then the "horrifying drop-out rates for women in IT courses".

So it seems that while the hardy few who do apply and get through the course may be reluctant to apply for less than perfect jobs, the biggest failing is in getting sufficient numbers of women IT graduates, in the first place.

Maybe the guy should stop blaming the few women who "talk themselves out of applying for jobs” and instead fix whatever is broken in the education system that's an almost complete failure at attracting women into the relevant university courses and retaining their enthusiasm through those courses.

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Climate change behind extreme weather, says NASA

Pete 2
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Re: Don't believe or deny. Just observe

Re: sunspot cycles

No. A cyclic event won't affect the long term data, as there will be as many "ups" as "downs". Now, the ups will contribute more record years - but a hot year during a cycle max. won't necessarily be any hotter than one during the previous or subsequent maxima - so their effect will be less significant. Also the cycle minima will nullify the effect (on your assumption that sunspot cycles affect global temperature) that some, randomly "record" years won't happen. The overall effect, therefore, of a cyclic phenomenon will be zero.

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Pete 2
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Don't believe or deny. Just observe

There's an easy way to tell IF your climate is changing - though it provides no information about WHY.

Consider the meteorological record. Let's assume that it's been measuring things like temerpature and rainfall for 100 year.

In year #1 there was no previous highs or lows.

In year #2 the odds of an average being the highest (or lowest) on record was ½ there being only 2 values.

In year #3 the odds of that year being the highest or lowest for a given attribute are 1/3rd

and so on.

So in the 101'th year, what are the odds - assuming purely random changes in temperature, rainfall or whatever else you're measuring being the highest on record?

Now, consider Harmonic series. How many "record years" would you expect in (say) temperature readings if there was no underlying trend and each year's data was independent of all previous years? The answer is 1 + 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 ... + 1/N, which for a 100 year stretch would mean you'd expect 5 or 6 record years.

Now, check out how many "record years" there have been, where you live, in the past century. If the number is greater than 5 or 6, something's causing a temperature rise. if less, then there's cooling taking place. The underlying causes are not revealed, just the result.

You decide.

P.S. This is my distortion of a piece from the book 100 Essential Things you didn't know you didn't know"

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Daily Mail group in screeching U-turn on parody tweet persecution

Pete 2
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1 completed, one to go

So the Daily Wail has done a U turn. if we can get them to do a second U turn, they'll have gone round: full circle. With any luck they'll then disappear up their own fundamental orifice and never be heard from again.

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Jobless yoofs! Get on your bike, er, mobe, and look for work

Pete 2
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Self interest?

Local councils helping people? Odd ... one of the perks of working for a council is that you get to make life hell for ordinary people. Then I read that they laid off 150 employees last year, so maybe this scheme is meant to redress the (self-inflicted) balance somewhat. Although a council with a conscience is rarer than a council with a "help the public" ethic, so that can't be right.

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Russian tech baron shocks physicists with £3m cash wad

Pete 2
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I wionder how many physicists ignored the email?

Just imagine. You get an email from <somewhere>.ru with a title Congratulations: You have won $3 Million. How many people would read that?

Maybe it's time to start paying a little more attention to my spam folder

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SHEEP NEED TWITTER, insist my noble Lords

Pete 2
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and it STILL sounds like an absolute bargain

So even if we take the lowest figure cited, that coughing £28Bn will "only" increase GDP by 0.1%, where does that leave us?

Well the UK's GDP stands at about 1.5 TRILLION pounds, so one-tenth of a percent comes to £1.5Bn. But that's not a one-off increase - it's every year. So the country would be "investing" £28Bn and getting an annual return of £1.5Bn - just over 5% - less than it would cost us to borrow that amount. In addition, £28Bn would add somewhere in the region of a quarter of a million job*years of employment, assuming whoever got the contract was able to take registered unemployed people, rather than bring in immigrant workers, thus reducing benefits costs, too. Finally, most of those billions would be spent in the UK - not spent on buying imports, so it is essentially money going round in a circle. The people who earn a salary from being employed on pushing out BB, will pay taxes and buy stuff with their pay, so a large proportion of it will either go back to the exchequer or will boost consumption for other goods - a small fraction of which might even be british-made.

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RBS must realise it's just an IT biz with a banking licence

Pete 2
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I blame "consolidation"

It's the easiest way to cut costs - i.e. staff numbers.

Instead of having 20,000 servers, each one doing it's own specialised task in it's own customised environment, why not axe a ton of the hardware and run all the mess on one single box o' tricks - maybe even virtualise it all, for added points in the buzzword bingo stakes. Even better, spin the consolidation as being "green" by persuading the gullible and terminally trendy types that we're really saving all those gigawatt*hours because we care about the planet - not for all the money it saves.

However, it does mean that you can end up with 20,000 servers all being dependent on a single DNS box, or that one honkin' great hub is responsible for *all* your enterprise's core traffic. Even if you've built a resilient or redundant system who's ever had the balls to press the big red button to see if it does actually fail-over?

So instead of an insignificant bugette or hardware failure just knocking a small part of your biz offline until the on-call engineer puts down his/her sandwich and shuffles over to press "reset" a whole long line of tits go up and suddenly all the lights go dark - and a funny smell seeps through the IT centre.

So what sounded like a good idea to the accountants who run the corporation, turns into a tangle of interdependencies and unknown unknowns that makes the Butterfly Effect look like a piece of string connected directly to a lever (with a sign saying Do not pull on it). It's not surprising that these systems fail. It is surprising that anyone ever manages to get them running again - though maybe the next major crash won't leave us surprised, at all.

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NASA's nuclear Mars tank prepares for high pucker-factor landing

Pete 2
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Re: Mic

I doubt it would matter. Does anyone know how a Martian would say "I don't care who you are, get your buggy off my roof"

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Boy cuffed after Twitter troll's drown threat to Olympic diver Tom Daley

Pete 2
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Re: Good

... and we can be safe in the knowledge that all police forces will act with equal vigour and speed - whether the target is an Olympic Games contestant, or not.

(and that rumbling sound you just heard was a squadron of pigs getting ready for takeoff)

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Samsung docs tease 11.8in, 2560 x 1600 tablet

Pete 2
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At that size ...

... it might even be worth getting a tablet. I wonder if they'd do a version with a proper fold-out keyboard and Windows - that would be the ultimate.

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How do you measure up at the Olympics?

Pete 2
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Re: Accuracy

> Not entirely sure how you plan to "fix" 100m sprints for example

One way would be to mandate that the participants only consume the products of the sponsors for a month before their event.

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Pete 2
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Technological swings and roundabouts

So there have been cases in the past where a lack of technology has shown the wrong person to be the winner. Compare that with modern developments, not just in swimming but pretty much everywhere, where one athlete's technology (or spending power for the best equipment, training, facilities or support staff) confers an advantage over less fortunate co-competitors.

We've got to the point in most sports where the winner is not really the best athlete, but the one most able to apply assists, coaching, medical help or even just have the luxury to train 24*7. Is it really "sport" any more, or merely the application of money that makes winners?

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Skydiving daredevil Baumgartner leaps from 96,000ft

Pete 2
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No prizes for second best

> Baumgartner took the second-highest free-fall crown

Maybe that qualifies me for the 5-billionth "crown"?

Anyway, it's only the last few millimetres that matter

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Foreign intelligence agencies are biggest online threat, ex-Fed warns

Pete 2
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Doesn't even make the top 10

> computer attack is the most significant threat we face as a society, ...

So the guy contradicts himself in the very next breath (way to go, speech-writers). However, he's still wrong.

In no particular order, the threats I feel are most likely to have the greatest impact on ME, would be:

- economic downturn (again!)

- violent crime

- property crime

- traffic accident

- ill health

- corruption

- civil unrest

- energy prices (electricity, gas, petrol)

- bad weather

- social intolerance

and add on his particular paranoia: WMDs (surely an exclusively american fear? Bizarre, since they have most of them) and people messin' with computers doesn't even feature. Obviously the guy is telling his audience what they want to hear. By appealing to their vanity, he's obviously hoping to puff-up their own self importance (as if it needs any more bolstering), but his words appear trite and self-serving. He seems also to miss the point that to 95% of the world, the USA is a foreign intelligence agency - maybe there's a kernel of truth in his keynote, after all.

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What happens when Facebook follows MySpace?

Pete 2
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> I mentioned that they only have to last for their lifetime. They were perplexed as to why I wouldn't want them to last say 200 years+.

People's desire for "200+" year life expectancy for a CD/DVD isn't unreasonable when you peel back the statistical curtain. Saying that they only have to "last your lifetime" makes it sound as id a disc with, for example, a 40 year life that's manufactured on Dec 31 1990 will do a Mission Impossible as soon as the clock strikes happy new year in 2030. It won't.

The notional life of a disk means that after that many years, a certain percentage of media will have failed. So if you had 100 discs, you will be unable to read a proportion of them. The longer the stated life, the fewer will be unreadable after a fixed amount of time - provided they are stored properly.

So all your perplexed buddies are really asking for is as small a number of failed discs as possible, not an actual lifespan measured in centuries. The obvious practical solution is to have 1 copy (plus the original) of each disc and to rewrite them at regular intervals. well within the advertised "lifespan" of the media.

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Pete 2
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Re: Archive problem

Actually, that's NOT what Matt Asay said, at all.

To paraphrase: "store pictures and anecdotes from the lives of my children." and "worry that all of my digital memories are going to be locked into a dead-end" and then "I don't want just my data, but also its presentation"

Which doesn't mandate "the web" at all. In fact, given his gloomy views on the permanence of anything web-based, it's worth considering that the web, itself, may not be permanent or exist long enough to be a viable option.

As a very general rule of thumb, the older a thing (technology, building, company but not person) is NOW, the longer it's likely to survive in the future. On that basis, stick to old technologies: cave painting, clay tablets or maybe just paper.

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Pete 2
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DIY

You should not rely on any online service to either warehouse your "memories", or keep them away from unwanted eyes. They're offering a free service and you get what you pay for.

So far as formats go, anything you decide to archive off, and store in a box in the loft today will be the equivalent of being written in "olde english" in 25 years time - if there's even any reliable hardware to access your chosen storage method. So the only viable solution is to keep the stuff you value, yourself. Hold the original source on your primary computer (and on a second computer 'natch) and occasionally add new copies in formats that seem likely to stick around for a reasonable length of time - lossless wherever possible.

While that might seem like an imposition, it'll help you decide what is REALLY worth keeping, and what turned out to be an impulsive decision to capture an obscure (and almost always) embarrassing moment for posterity. If you can't be arsed to keep your "precious" memories current, then they're probably not that precious after all.

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Is running IT for the Olympics the worst job in the world?

Pete 2
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A new excellence fad?

> the gallery has astroturf on the floor instead of carpet

Ahh, so if the OGs are successful can we expect the country's CIOs and IT manglers to replace all the datacentre carpets with plastic grass?

It's probably as likely to be effective as any of the other initiatives they've tried: (ISO9000, BS5750, ITIL etc.) and for exactly the same reasons - random chance.

p.s. Lucky they took their lead from the field events, not the aquatic ones!

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Why British TV drama is crap – and why this matters to tech firms

Pete 2
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Re: Hawking for Sky are we?

> UK drama is compressed and concentrated, giving quality over quantity.

So are OXO cubes, but you wouldn't want to eat them out of the packet. The problem with british dramas is that they don't give themselves the space to develop interesting characters. By only having a small amount of time to fit in all the exposition, development, twists and conclusion british writers tend to skim over the bits that make a story interesting. It's a bit like reading a Cliff's Notes of a classic text, rather than reading the original yourself. You get the basic story, but none of the nuances and depth that make it enjoyable.

Oddly, a lot of films manage to squeeze in more dimensionality in a couple of hours - but that might be because they apply more bodies and more skill (as well as more money) into getting the whole package presented to a viewer - or it might be because they focus tightly on what's important, rather than indulging the writer's whims, meanderings and biases.

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Pete 2
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More stuff, quickly

> BBC or ITV doesn’t spend enough

In recent years the pattern for british drama has been one of short-run series: maybe 3 * 1 hour episodes. That has two big problems. The first is that setting up a TV series is expensive. Before you start filming you have to assemble the "team", make all the props, get studio space/locations, create the basis for CGI and budget for the show's eventual promotion and advertising. A lot of those costs are more-or-less constant whether you make 3 episodes or 20. However, if you only make a few, then those costs have to be amortized across the small number of episodes, making each one appear more expensive - the opposite of an economy of scale.

The other basic problem is that with gazillions of TV channels, there's a need for LOTS of stuff to fill the empty voids between advertisements. 3 episodes just won't hack it - and is difficult for the schedulers to fit in to a format that's designed around "seasons" of 10 or 20 episodes - and therefore difficult to sell to them.

A big reason for these issues is the way that british dramas are written and produced. Over here we tend to treat them as hand-crafted works of art. Great when they succeed, but an expensive and inaccessible mess when they don't. Other places tend to productionise the writing - with a team of scribblers who contribute a part to each episode - which gives them depth and variety, rather than the monoculture and superficial characterisations that our lone-writers don't have the time (or ability) to incorporate.

It could be that the biggest technological boost we could give to TV drama production is to find ways to enable a group of writers to work together (assuming you can get past the diva effect). You'd think that with all the tools available for softies to write code in a collective and collaborative way, that there'd be solutions for authors, too. Maybe they are just too stuck in their own ways to look over the parapet - or maybe they just like being the queen bee.

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BSkyB punches Virgin Media in ads watchdog fist fight

Pete 2
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Can't tell their ASA from their elbow

> we considered that consumers would understand ...

What they really meant is that customers understand that ALL advertisements for broadband are universally false, misleading and that none of the claims can stand up to any level of scrutiny. Customers also understand that as a watchdog, the ASA does just that: watches. It doesn't act.

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Raspberry Pi rolls out speed surge Raspbian OS

Pete 2
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(Not a) Daft question

> it seems to me that you are buying a computer without the hard drive and OS

What you get is a naked "motherboard". You have to provide the following:

Power supply

USB Keyboard (the £2.50 ASDA jobbie works OK)

USB Mouse (as does their cheap mouse)

Display, usually an HDMI TV and a connecting cable

SD card that you download an OS for and then need to use a PC to copy the OS to the card

Network cable to plug into your home router

Something non-metallic to put all this stuff on. The 'Pi doesn't have any mounting holes and is quite small and lightweight, so stopping it from dragging when you move a cable is not easy.

And since the 'Pi only has 2 USB ports, you might need a USB hub - though since the 'Pi's ability to use peripherals is strictly limited (none of the 4 different types of webcam I've tried have worked on it) there may not be much scope for this.

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Sky's TV-on-demand registers with regulator just hours before opening

Pete 2
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Can't happen soon enough

> Now TV isn't an addition to its satellite service, in the long term it’s a replacement for it

The fixed-fee "all you can eat" model for TV really does need sorting out. It rewards TV companies that fill their channels with cheap dross and repeats of cheap dross while making "quality" TV (i.e. programmes I like) marginalised and an endangered species.

If TV became truly PPV, so that a punter had to shell out before watching any particular programme, there would be a direct link between the programme maker and the viewer. Better yet, if a series tanked the makers would have an immediate and tangible motivation to improve it (rather than as some BBC writers are known to do: bleat about how the audience is "wrong" and blame the viewers).

The TV channel would merely become the delivery medium, much like UPS and the Royal Mail - they don't charge you £20 a month on the offchance there's a package you might want to order. By closing the gap between programme makers and programme consumers the industry can become far more response and efficient: no more cartels deciding for us what we'll be permitted to choose from, or when it's convenient for their schedules to show a particular programme.

All we'd have to do next would be to get the music industry to adopt the same model and get their fat-cats out of the way so we can get music directly from the bands and musicians, themselves.

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Olympics security cockup down to software errors - report

Pete 2
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This one needs fingers and toes

Errrm - hang on a sec. There are 168 hours in a week. So if your staff work _about_ 40 hours per, that means (FX: takes off shoes and socks ... starts doing maths) you need 4 shifts, not 3. Maybe the G4 people did the calculations your way and that's where it went wrong?

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Move over Raspberry Pi, give kids a Radio Ham Pi - minister

Pete 2
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Playing to the crowd

Well of course the rent-a-minister is going to say how wonderful and inspirational ham radio is when he/she/it is lying talking to the RADIO Society of GB. However IMHO (from experience) the internet took over all the interesting aspects of amateur radio.

Also, I'm sure the minister will be eating, nay: wolfing down, his words when someone whispers in his ear about all the cases of RFI that rigs can cause, especially in high-density housing estates and when surrounded by cheaply made and largely unshielded domestic electronics.

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LOHAN fizzles forlornly in REHAB

Pete 2
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A bigger hammer?

Instead of relying on a single Copperhead, is it possible to insert (say) three into the propellant and fire them all at the same time.

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Being a skinny is much more unhealthy than being fat – new study

Pete 2
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Re: Study shows that...

I see. So the real problem is that I'm 4 feet too short?

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Pete 2
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There's more to life than death

This study is all very well, but it doesn't take into account quality of life.

I'm sure it's a great consolation to the "blobs" that they will live as long as ordinary-sized people. But what will their lives be like? Will the enjoyment factor be the same for someone who is able to lead an active life: kicking a football with their kids/grandchildren, as it is for those who can only sit on the sofa and watch TV?

Similarly, if it takes you 10 minutes to recover from walking upstairs, will you have the same optimistic, happy, positive attitude as a slimline version of you who bounds up them; two at a time?

So while life expectancy may well be the obvious factor in the fat vs. thin debate, the ability to enjoy your allotted time is just as important.

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US networks: Political donations by text? Rlly nt a gud idea

Pete 2
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Greater democracy?

> Proponents reckon it'll lead to greater democracy, as politicians are always answerable to those who fund them

Gets my vote for the most cynical justification of a new means of taking money from the credulous and dim-witted.

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British Gas bets you'll pay £150 for heating remote control

Pete 2
Silver badge

you don't want that do you?

Err, YES! All this home automation malarkey becomes utterly useless the moment it requires human intervention at any stage of the process. Once a person's presence is called for - filling the kettle, washing up a dirty coffee mug, getting the teabag out - then you might as well do the whole thing yourself. I would hazard a guess that is the main reason it's failed to take off.

I do remember my old gran having a "teasmade" in the 1960's. Essentially, you filled a pot with cold water and at a predetermined time, instead of the built-in alarmclock waking you, it started up a heater that fizzed and bubbled and eventually woke you with a cup-o-char. From the little I've seen of commercial "home automation" there's been little or no progress in the past half-century.

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China reveals new strategy of stockpiling rare earths

Pete 2
Silver badge

Watch and learn

> China – which produces 90 per cent of the world’s supply ... now has just 30 per cent of the world’s reserves

It seems to me they've been reading up on the history of OPEC and realised that there is a long (if not honourable) history of leveraging the supply and demand equation for their environmental reasons national profit.

Luckily for the chinese, it appears they are immune to the fate that befalls other countries who get in the way of " ... US workers and manufacturers [desire for] access to raw materials". I just wouldn't like to be in the shoes of whoever is sitting on top of the other 70% or the world's reserves.

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UK is first class for train Wi-Fi in Europe

Pete 2
Silver badge

Productivity != Creativity

Most office workers produce very little of any actual worth. Unless you count as useful sending numerous emails to hordes of people about things they don't care about (and probably won't read, anyway).

Far better than spending your travel time on the administrative equivalent of a hamster's wheel is to sit back, clear your mind and use the opportunity for some blue-sky thinking. All it would take would be one really good idea from one talented individual to recoup the whole cost of this new train-set.

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