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* Posts by Pete 2

2319 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Raspberry Pi signs big-name sellers

Pete 2
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Never trust a publicity junkie

So what todays events boil down to? The announcement we were advised to "buy an alarm clock" for is simply to tell us that there will be 2 companies selling the "B" model, at some point in the future. And if we wish, and if we can get onto the thoroughly slashdotted websites, we can put our names on a waiting list.

The Raspberry Pi people have certainly achieved their goal of creating the maximum amount of media buzz about their (still unavailable) product, I can't help wondering if that media frenzy is all it will be remembered for.

Although the technically minded are in no doubt that this is merely an embedded component that, with a lot of work *could* be integrated into some future products, the lay press is pushing it as a "$35 computer" [ ref: cbc.ca ] and this seems to be with the consent and tacit approval of the designers / pushers, themselves. Given that the first run is a trifling 10,000 units and the amount of (misdirected) interest is sufficient to kill 2 commercial websites for some hours I can't help wondering if the sheer volume of publicity has been somewhat over the top.

In 6 months, when the hype has died down and several thousand tinkerers have bought one of these - only to wonder, when a circuit board drops through their letter boxes what the hell they're supposed to do now - what will be the end result? A few will have turned into the sort of apostles that Sinclair's early computers produced, but most will realise they have neither the time or skills to use it, nor the need for one . Then, and only then will some actual worthwhile products start appearing that are based on RPi circuitry. But they'll be deeply embedded in a domestic appliance and nobody will even be aware of it's origins.

That's the true destiny of embedded electronics. To be so good that it becomes invisible. if it does succeed, few will (therefore) know and most will simply not care - just so long as it works.

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Hacking breach made us stronger says RSA

Pete 2
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What's sauce for the goose

> the hacking attack... ended up making the company stronger and more effective.

So presumably the hackers will be able to invoice the company for the services provided. After all, if companies can claim damages for adverse effects of hacks, surely they should be made to pay for benefits, too.

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Molesworth and the New Latin

Pete 2
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The new latin

Coding in a language

as dead as dead can be

it killed the ancient programmers

and now it's killing me

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Avoid flying next to blubberbeasts with seatmate-finding site

Pete 2
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Re: Ugh

Absolutely right. Sit down, put up the newspaper "barricade" and plug in the in-canal earphones. That way it's perfectly clear that you have no wish to interact with the other strangers on the plane.

Maybe the thing to do is to create a new FB profile (we all have several - or none - don't we?) with things like:

Interests: I love garlic and bean sandwiches

Hobbies: Pig farming

Which should guarantee not only that nobody would want to sit near you, but that you get the whole row of seats to yourself.

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Male dinosaurs failing on social privacy

Pete 2
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Being polite

I assume the phrases "post something they regret" , "young men are the most impetuous" and "men to be the least privacy-conscious people online, and the most likely to make a gaffe" are merely roundabout ways of saying that (young) men are more likely to post something while out of their skulls on <chemical of choice>.

Failing that, maybe it's simply down to the sorts of people that social networks attract? Not "men" or "women" in general, just the fraction who actually spend their time posting stuff.

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The cyber-weapons paradox: 'They're not that dangerous'

Pete 2
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A team effort

We're fortunate that there are very few people in the world who wish to cause harm - and even fewer in positions of trust and with the ability to do so. Luckily (!) most of the attacks we've heard about have either been from external forces - limited by their ability to insert bad stuff accurately, or by lone insiders acting out a personal vendetta. Whether the situation of a concerted inside-job by a focused team will remain a fiction, or whether it will be targeted as the "soft underbelly" of the whole computer industry, remains to be seen. However, it would be incredibly easy to do[1] given the time and inclination of those involved.

Afterthought: Given the amount of mis-management, overruns, over-costs, poor implementations and buggy products - maybe this sort of sabotage has, actually, been happening for years - or decades.

[1] Scenario: An HR person with a particular "outlook" preferentially recruits techies with the same outlook. As part of a slow-burning plan, they all gravitate towards working on the same vulnerable system and from that position of self-supervision are free to implement whatever bugs, backdoors, weaknesses, logic-bombs or espionage they please. How many people? A team leader, couple of coders, a tester. Maybe half a dozen: tops. How long? Maybe a year or two.

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Hey Commentard! - or is that Commenter?

Pete 2
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Re: It's not just retard

> nearly all words ending -ard are (or were once) derogatory tags

I'm sure the "bARD" would disagree. Surely you would rewARD his talent and have regARD for his hARD work. You wouldn't give him his cARDs. I think you've been hoist by your own petARD.

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Pete 2
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Push back the limits

Anything that stands against the tutting, intolerant and politically correct must be a good thing.

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Brits guard Facebook passwords more than work logins – survey

Pete 2
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Remembering a password is no harder than remembering a phone number

It must be so difficult, living in modern times. Apart from having to remember your address - or getting lost 'cos you've forgotten where you live. Or your registration number and wandering the neighbourhood attempting to get into every vehicle you come across (at least that's what I told the nice officer). Or what channel your favourite programmes were on. Or your spouse's name (not one you want to get wrong!) or any of the other gazillions of pieces of information you need to recall just to live your daily live.

Now add on top of all that, three or four (or even 10 or more) passwords. It must be pure hell.

In fact, recalling data that you use on a daily basis is no big deal - we do it thousands of times every day. So, provided you pay attention when you set the password and use it regularly, it's as easy as remembering to get dressed before you leave the house. The big problem only comes when one of the stooopid "security" systems insists you change a perfectly good password on a regular, or frequent basis. Now that IS dumb.

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Met Office wants better supercomputer to predict EXTREME weather

Pete 2
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I'd love to live in your world

> What happens when we predict icy roads properly?

Where I live the gritters go out and salt the 1 major road through my town (pop 20,000) and the bypass. However they never, ever grit any of the side roads. So the arterial routes are lovely and clear, but since nobody (the people who's council tax pays for the gritting) is able to get through the snow-blocked residential streets to use them, they remain clear - except for the occasional gritter wondering why they bother, since nobody is using the road.

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Pete 2
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Sometimes the answer is "we just don't know"

In Britain most of the weather we get only develops in the last 2 or 3 days before it hits us. While it may be possible (sometimes) to say "there's a storm coming our way", or "some places will be windy" predicting exactly WHERE will be hit is probably outside the bounds of the knowable.

Even within 24 hours of an "event", the precise location - or worst hit spots - probably won't be evident until whatever it is actually starts to rain/blow/bake or blizzard all over it. if the Met Office was to buy some new sooper-dooper computers, would they really be able warn a particular village that it would be flooded, but the one 10 miles away wouldn't? Without that degree of certainty, we could end up in even worse bother: with the wrong emergency services being sent to the wrong place in advance of an imprecise prediction - instead of being held on "alert" until some calls for help actually came in.

Maybe what Britain needs is a bit more awareness (such as not building houses, or critical services, on flood plains or near rivers) having a few more gritters and the will to use them and for someone to be in charge, rather than diluting responsibility to a mess of small and poorly organised local councils who don't really have any incentive to take precautions against once-in-10-year weather events.

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LOHAN flashes fantastical flying truss

Pete 2
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A spot of wind

Aside from the question of balance, the design needs to be able to withstand high winds. ISTR that PARIS encountered some blowage at height and the extra stress of balloons wanting to go in different directions (a phenomenon some readers may be familiar with) could exceed the design loading of the truss.

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Two thirds of Brits crippled by mobile phone loss terror

Pete 2
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Re: Going up!

Wot 'ee said!

(must learn to type faster)

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Pete 2
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Going ..... up!

And with the increase in utility - especially financial utility, what with Barclay's recently announced foray into mobile monkey and the possibility of NFC becoming useful, the level of insecurity and dependency can only rise.

Just like it's common sense to have more than 1 housekey or credit/debit card (and not to keep them all in the same wallet/purse) , surely the trend of concentrating too many functions onto one not-very-secure and easily nickable piece of shiny plastic can't be a good move. Eggs and baskets comes to mind.

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Linux talent shortage drives up salaries

Pete 2
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Money, money, money

> they were doing all kinds of things to try to retain and attract Linux talent

All kinds of things ... except paying enough to attract recruits, it seems.

If you really, REALLY want to fill a Linux position, simply offer a salary that will attract applicants. Not getting any applicants? then your headline salary is too low. Getting applicants who are crap? Then your recruitment agency needs a kick for not screening properly. Getting applicants who turn down your offers? Then look inside at your company - the work, the conditions and (most important) whether the boss is an idiot.

The problem is that in a lot of large organisations: multinationals, government departments, utilities and the like, all regard IT workers as the same. I've seen instances where the HR people and the IT senior managers were seriously saying "but they're all support staff, why not just get the Windows team to do it?" With no understanding - or even awareness - that the skills are different. When you start with that level of ignorance, it's no surprise that the so-called "perks" listed in the article fail to attract.

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Tesco offers broadband for LESS THAN THE PRICE OF A PINT

Pete 2
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Beer and broadband

Just imagine if Tesco (or, TBF any other supermarket) sold beer the same way they sell broadband.

Beer: quantity UNLIMITED (subject to contents of bottle). ABV: up to 4.5% and then noticing that the bottle top doesn't come off, and you can't get the stuff out at more than a trickle.

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CSC confirms $1.5bn NHS IT write-off

Pete 2
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What he meant to say was:

> these discussions have evolved into a potential go-forward framework that is currently in the government's review process,

If we're lucky the government might bung some sympathy work our way. If that does happen, and our shares get back to anything like last year's level you won't see me (or the rest of the board) for dust.

Now where did I leave my golden parachute?

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IT guy answers daughter's Facebook rant by shooting her laptop

Pete 2
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I bet he gets *no* IT bug reports

Once word of his novel approach to dealing with problems becomes common knowledge, I'd be surprised if anybody would issue a bug report against any of his software, in case he applies his special remedy for "fixing" their IT problems.

It would be interesting to see his staff appraisals, too. I can imagine a somewhat shakily (hand)written assessment along the lines of " ... some scope for improving customer-facing skills"

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Royal astro-boffin to MPs: Stop thinking about headlines

Pete 2
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Ignorance is bliss

> Ignorance prevented people participating in important debates, he added.

If only that was true. The biggest problem (he said, not knowing if it's true or not) with public debate on science and technology - or finance & economics - is that people who don't know the facts still feel they have a right to say what they think. We see this every day, not just in scientific debates but whenever a TV news programme needs some cheap filler and goes out on a trawl for vox-pops. Once an opinion gets onto our TV screens it assumes greater importance - as if being broadcast (and being chosen to be broadcast by an equally techno-illiterate studio-person) somehow turns fiction into fact: "Well someone on telly said ... " and is well on the way to becoming accepted wisdom. After that, no matter how many white-coated, bespectacled, bearded, geeks you put up against "what everybody knows" you're on a loser.

Maybe the first question that Paxo, or any other TV presenter should ask, when opening a conversation with an interviewee should be: "What, exactly are your credentials?" and we should be reminded, frequently, whether the individual speaking does so from a position of knowledge. It could result in much shorter TV debates.

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Doctors sick of anonymous-coward NHS feedback commentards

Pete 2
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Only human

... and of course all doctors are fine, upstanding, conscientious and talented.

The main reason for people "hiding" behind an anonymous posting is to avoid the possibility of retribution - or even of a practice deciding they don't want whingeing patients on their books. You can just imagine a situation, moments before the doctor says "cough, please" when they decide to raise the topic of your last, critical, posting of their bedside manner.

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Sysadmins: Don't get in your own way

Pete 2
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The moral of the story ...

... is to make the users do all the work themselves.

Whether the alternative - either for the helpdesk or the checkout - is one that involves lots of waiting, having to deal with barely-trained & disgruntled employees, having to beg for the most basic services (or carrier bags), trying not to appear too annoyed ... w h i l e ... t h e y ... w o r k ... a t ... t h e i r ... o w n ... g l a c i a l .. p a c e ... or suddenly decide to change shifts and stop everything for 5 minutes.

Faced with that, it's no wonder employees want to bring in their own kit and operate "self-service"

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Boffins out earbuds that sound right when inserted wrong

Pete 2
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Really getting wired

> a weak current, which runs between the buds, is broken.

Now that could add an extra dimension to the music. I can just imagine some over zealous royalties enforcer requiring a chip in all new players that turns this current up to 11 if the requisite DRM checks don't pass.

On the matter of detecting which orifice an earbud is inserted into, wouldn't it just be easier to colour-code them?

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Facebook files for IPO, seeks $5bn

Pete 2
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Too big and too little

What's the point?

The company has been going so long (and grown so quickly) that its future expansion is quite limited - so not much scope for organic growth. Yet for all its size, it's only planning on raising $5Bn from the floatation.

That's enough to land it with all the regulatory deadweight that a public company must conform to, but not cash enough for it to drastically change its business model. All FB could hope to do would be to gobble up other companies in exchange for it's own shares - presuming they hold their value on the stock market - and then hope it can assimilate whatever novel attribute the small-fry had into it's own corporate mass. A strategy that's not known for its successes.

This IPO would make sense if the owners were planning to cash out and wanted to spend more time with their money. But in that case, without the founders' vision, who'd want to be left holding the shares?

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Gov's 'open data' strategy: It'll cost too much and won't work

Pete 2
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To try and to fail

... is better than to not try at all.

The main government driver for almost everything (apart from personal gain: political or financial) is CYA. Therefore it's not important whether a programme succeeds or fails - if it's timed properly, that will be the next incumbent's problem - but to be seen to be doing something. To show that there is action being taken. That there is a policy.

So it is with this one, too. Who cares if it won't work or costs too much? Most government IT projects don't work, so the only issue is to manage expectations: downwards. As to cost -no big deal! The money's going to be spent on something, somewhere and whatever it's spent on probably won't deliver what was intended, anyway.

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Newzbin barrister struck off for owning site he represented

Pete 2
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Pop!

> ... diminish public confidence in the legal profession

Or demonstrate that lawyers are just ordinary people who can hide behind a wall of obscure legal (and latin) jargon.

Most people who have ever come into contact with the legal profession; either through a house purchase, divorce, damages claim or criminal prosecution in all likelihood will already have a pretty low opinion of lawyers. Whether it's the firm that charges you parters' rates for your work and then hands it off to a junior who can't even spell. Or the conveyancer who seems to take a week to drag their heels through every single stage of an otherwise simple property purchase. Or the defence lawyer who doesn't seem to understand that YOU DIDN'T DO IT and just wants you to plead guilty, so they can have an easy life, collect their considerable fee and move on to the next victim.

Maybe this guy didn't diminish public confidence in the legal profession. Maybe all he did was show them up to have the same failings, weaknesses and faults as everyone else - that he peeled away the thin veneer of competence and exposed them to the light of day. For a profession that relies so much on appearances and excluding "ordinary" people from their goings-on, a bit of harsh reality could really burst the bubble.

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Samsung 11.6in 'retina display' tablet spied

Pete 2
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Size doesn't matter

> an 11.6in screen is pushing it a bit for a handheld display

Once a device gets bigger than a convenient size to stuff in your pocket, then whether it's 10 inches, 12 or more becomes less important that how much it weighs. At those sizes (i.e. laptop-sized) it needs a bag to carry it around in, so it's lost the convenience factor. All that is up for discussion is how big the bag needs to be - and if you've got to carry a bag, why not have a proper laptop in it, instead?

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Juror jailed for looking up rape defendant on Google

Pete 2
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What good would 3 months in jail do?

The woman is a psychiatrist (or was it a psychologist? Meh!). She'll probably write a book about her observations and make a ton of money from it.

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Teen net addicts pee in bottles to stay glued to WoW

Pete 2
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Do climbers carry umbrellas?

> Though I wonder, is peeing in a bottle any different ... from me taking a crap outside when I'm out climbing

Only the person following you up the cliff can answer that!

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Pete 2
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So much for individualism

Any parent knows that the hardest thing in the world is to persuade a teen to get out of bed. Yet here we have at least 2 kids who are so motivated by something that they'll voluntarily haul themselves out of the pit (while hopefully not tripping over bottles of stale pee - hey, if it was good enough for Howard Hughes ....) at 3 a.m. to partake of an activity with other, like-minded, people.

Rather than praise their dedication, determination and competitive spirit, she chooses to scoff at their choice of entertainment and criticise their methods of maximising their participation. I can't help wondering if this lady is guilty of a huge double standard: taking the errr, "mick" out of games players yet admiring sports-people who spend much more of each day (and are prepared to suffer more) fulfilling their obsession for equally fleeting successes and rewards.

Maybe she should be less concerned with forcing normative behaviours on children and look instead at how this enthusiasm (or obsession?) can be harnessed into something a bit more constructive than passing comments on how other people spend their time?

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Women pick the family's mobile tech - and pay for it too

Pete 2
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Ask and you shall receive

> asked just over 1,000 women within families ... Around 94 per cent ... were "primarily responsible or involved"

As a control, it would be interesting to know what the reply would have been if they'd asked 1000 men *within families*[1] the same question. I suspect the answer would have been roughly the same.

[1] a further "reveal" would have been to discover if, given a very high divorce rate, those women had anyone else who *could* contribute to the decision making process. Since these days a "family" does not necessarily mean there's a man about the house.

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McDonald's punters offered sex in exchange for Chicken McNuggets

Pete 2
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A simple misunderstanding

Maybe what she actually said was: "would you like to swap those McNuggets for a Happy Meal?"

I mean, who could possibly misconstrue that.

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Olympics volunteers urged not to blab online

Pete 2
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Canute

I fully expect the "unauthorised" posts, tweets, articles and leaks to be the only interesting part of the whole thing - with the possible exception being the inevitable witch-hunts afterwards to find and then prosecute to the fullest extent (and then some) possible anyone who might have been in the slightest bit involved.

So far as "not to disclose their location; ... not to get involved in detailed discussion about the Games online," The Olympic Thought Police may as well issue guidelines asking the tide not to come in for the duration of the games.

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Ten... stars of the Consumer Electronics Show

Pete 2
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To sum up

So the best from CES - the world's biggest gadget show - was a bunch of computers and tellies. With a (admittedly veeeeery cool) RC helicopter and toy guitar to mix it up a bit.

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India threatens to block Google, Facebook and chums

Pete 2
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Power moving east?

Forget all the arguments about censorship, or freedom. What we have here is another example of the most populous countries in the world recognising that they have power: both political and commercial - and exercising it.

Whether the "objectionable" material the Indian government is objecting to (surely de facto, if they object to it, that alone makes it objectionable?) is political in nature, religious, cultural or illegal is less of an issue. We already live in a world where a self-appointed copyright guardian in one country has given itself the right to dictate to everyone on the planet what they may or may not show, stream, upload or view. That's got to be a far less legitimate use of power than for an elected body to require similar controls within its own borders.

Let's fix the mote in our own eye first.

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US killer spy drone controls switch to Linux

Pete 2
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Got it!

> use of the word "advised" in context with military hardware

it's that metallic "click" you hear before the nice man in mirrored sunglasses says "we really would advise you not to do that"

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Pete 2
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You won't make any money like that, son

> If I would need to select between Windows XP and a Linux based system while building a military system, I wouldn't doubt a second which one I would take."

Nope, neither would anyone else supplying softs to that source of infinite amounts of moolah.

Linux is definitely the worst choice possible. Imagine installing a reliable, low cost and easily supportable infrastructure. Whereas everyone knows that to make money from military contracts you MUST specify the most expensive, inadequately implemented and personnel intensive products available. Otherwise your margins will be terrible and you won't be able to cash in on the ongoing support, mandatory suckurity upgrades, and constant bug-fixes (all at an hourly rate) that is where the real profit traditionally lies.

[Afterthought: though maybe the supplier is *still* charging for support at "windows" rates and has forgotten to mention to the suppliers of pork that their new system can be supported by a 14 y/o on a few pesos a day]

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Apple said to threaten legal action over Steve Jobs doll

Pete 2
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Prior art?

But couldn't one claim that he's a derivative work, courtesy of his parents?

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Pete 2
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Number 2

> Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God,

Fortunately the Ten Commandments are now out of copyright (though presumably if they'd been sent to Disney instead of Moses, that copyright term would have been extended while there was still money to be made from them) so I can quote the above.

It does sound like part of the Jobs deification process - maybe Apple is set to turn into a church, if only for the tax breaks. Though if Apple Corp. does get into the salvation business I can't help wondering how long it will take them to patent the sacraments, copyright all the iconography then sue the Catholics, Jews, Muslims and Hindus.

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Govt tells science to budge up for arts at new hi-tech uni

Pete 2
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Did he really say that?

So Willetts recokons that what Eric Schimdt said when he was stroking the egos of a bunch of pissed up luvvies [a term referred to in the speech, as was "boffin"] and TV execs on a jolly, went like this:

> he said that this arts v sciences debate really ought to be dead and buried and instead we should recognise how complementary they are

But when you look at the content of the speech, (courtesy of El Graunian) what it says is:

> First you need to bring art and science back together. Think back to the glory days of the Victorian era. It was a time when the same people wrote poetry and built bridges. Lewis Carroll didn't just write one of the classic fairytales of all time, he was also a mathemetics tutor at Oxford. James Clerk Maxwell was described by Einstein as among the best physicists since Newton - but was also a published poet.

Here comes the good bit

> Over the past century the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. There's been a drift to the humanities - engineering and science aren't championed. Even worse, both sides seem to denigrate the other - to use what I'm told is the local vernacular, you're either a 'luvvy' or a 'bofffin'

So what Mr. Google appears to be saying is that we should start whacking all the humanities types over the head with a copy of Bleaney and Bleaney and make our phsyicists write poetry in their spare time (which I'm sure they'd love). None of that sounds too hard, but it's a long way from advocating a new university for both arts and technology. Maybe once the polymaths can knock together a limerick-creating algorithm, we can lose the arts side of this and focus on what SCHMIDT ACTUALLY SAID about getting a sound technological foundation back into the education system.

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Ubuntu hoists skirt, flashes 'concept' gadget at CES

Pete 2
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Ubugma2

> I have seen stories about GNU/Linux getting on to consumer devices one too many times.

The basic problem that Ubuntu would have as the engine in a TV is its interface. While Unity may (though I'm sticking to Gnome on my 10.04 boxes) be fine for a multi-cored, 2+GHz screamer with several GB of RAM and a graphics card that can run a virtual universe in your office. It's less than useful in a TV where cost, complexity, power, fan noise and board size must be minimised.

The good news is that there are alternatives. Appliances such as The Dreambox run a GUI called Enigma2 that provides pretty much all the functionality and expansion (users can download and install modules on it) necessary to run a TV. While it has a few rough edges which we can forgive due to it's OSS-ness it largely does the job.

If I was Mr. Ubuntu I'd be seriously looking at this sort of front end for a slim format Linux/Ubuntu badged TV that (with the addition of an outboard HDD/SSD) did most of the stuff that all the boxes underneath your home TV did between them, now.

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UK space agency to boldly send techies ... behind a desk

Pete 2
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Sounds good in theory

"Oh yes, I work in the Space Industry"

"Ohhhh, so you're a rocket scientist"

"yes, ma'am <fingers crossed>, though my job title is Optical Payload Lab and Clean-room Technician"

and when you look at the j/d itself, you find the post is for a deputy cleaner:

> A general assistant is required to maintain the various Clean Rooms and laboratories to the required class and cleanliness...

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Comet 'sold 94,000 pirate Windows CDs', claims Microsoft

Pete 2
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These are not the pirates you are looking for

Although this hits the emotional buttons about fake software and piracy, it seems much more likely that it was merely an accounting error. If Comet were producing discs under licence, then I'd guess that all that happened was they failed to pay MS their cut of the Windows royalties for some of the discs they made and have, since, been a bit tardy in coughing up.

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That Brit-built £22 computer: Yours for just £1,900 or more

Pete 2
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Fakes or clones

So who would want such a thing? Apart from the sad old wannabees with more money than imagination, this seems to be a prime hunting ground for the clone makers. Buy a beta board, reverse engineer it and start flogging your own version. You never know, with real R-Pi not producing until February at the earliest, they could even be beaten to market by their copies </irony> (Or worse: find that the copies have been improved over the original.) Since these versions don't have the development and design costs their overheads are lower and the cost per unit (since R-Pi have also done all the promotion for them) should be considerably lower.

But it gets worse. If these few boards really do fetch the amounts reports (and don't just get the bids cancelled/withdrawn) then that would seem to indicate a burgeoning market for the less scrupulous to produce their own "beta" (where beta takes it's traditional meaning of: hardware/software that doesn't work properly) boards and make a few $k for themselves, until the window of opportunity closes.

Either way, it sounds like an astoundingly bad idea, to release prototypes onto the market.

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Boffins drill into human language by terrifying chimps with vipers

Pete 2
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The difference between people and chimps

> Chimps don't just blurt out whatever is on their mind - they consider who's listening

And if daytime television is anything to go by, people never worry about that

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Latest El Reg project: Rise of the Robot Sheep

Pete 2
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KISS

It sounds like you have already nailed the First of Larry Wall's Three Great Virtues of a Programmer (i.e. Laziness, for the truly lazy the other two are Impatience and Hubris - give yourself a a pat on the back for not bothering to look them up).

Impatience should require the use of Off the Shelf parts - possibly an ideal opportunity to buy a Raspberry Pi if/when they ever become available.

As for Hubris, I'd suggest giving the Mk2 it's own web interface, plus real-time webcam feed.

However, going back to Laziness for a minute. I don;' feel that having the device controllable from a phone or PC quite does it, for the truly lazy. Surely the object of complete laziness is for the device to do everything itself? Possibly up to and including re-ordering it's own SLA batteries when it detects the current ones are failing (shades of 2010 A Space Odyssey:, perhaps? Just keep it away from hard vacuum.).

One final point on the topic of a cylindrical cutter. Check out the blades that woodworkers use in planer/thicknessers. Apart from being scary sharp, really: SCARY sharp, they could be the sort of thing you'd be looking for. With a few adaptations, the Mk2 might even keep your hedges in trim.

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Ofcom's Local TV dream: No smut, an hour of news, endless ads

Pete 2
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Pearl and Dean

So what we're going to get is a channel or two playing 23 hours of adverts for the local curry emporium and then a jobseeker reading bits from the local paper?

Can't wait.

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Gov unveils plans to make tax-funded research freely accessible

Pete 2
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Don't universities already do this?

> commercial advantage for UK companies

Apart from research that is classified as secret, I was under the distinct impression that most work results in a publication of something, somewhere - that's how academics and researchers earn their brownie points and assure themselves of future employment.

Better yet, the one in a thousand (guess) pieces of research that can be turned into something useful generally gets commercialised by the spin-off companies that universities have all created to exploit such ideas.

So we already have an environment where public money that funds _useable_ research is turned into money-making opportunities for british companies. Obviously where existing companies (british or foreign) fund or sponsor a piece of work, they reap the benefits of any knowledge gained. But for new ideas from research grants of goverenment money, there is already a route to market - even if it's limited by the lack of entrepreneurial "buzz" in the funding departments.

Maybe what we need is not another initiative or institute (the more steps in the process, the greater the delays incurred) but some government underwriting - again using OUR money - of the nacent spinoffs, to ensure that what profits they do make stays in the country, rather than going to venture capitalists with no commitment to the UK

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Ofcom maps out what 'psychics' are allowed to do on TV

Pete 2
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Bet they didn't see that coming

that's all

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IBM: 'Your PC will read your mind by 2016'

Pete 2
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Open the floodgates

> technologies will be commonplace in five years time, ...mind control of PCs

And you thought the amount of pr0n washing around NOW was bad!

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Tempt tech talent without Googlesque mega perks

Pete 2
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The difference between a job and a hobby

> open source ... it gives recruiters a deep view into an engineer's capabilities without the need for an interview.

But you also need to be aware that a lot of people who have written some OSS software have done it for non-financial rewards. Those are completely different motivations from being paid and don't necessarily mean that the individual who wrote a screamingly good piece of software would be prepared to buckle down for the long term to the disciplines of change, deadlines, designs, testing and debugging. Likewise, the second-rate coder might be a far better fit to a product-orientated outfit than a superstar hacker would.

In fact you still need the interview. Not necessarily to assess the technical skills of a candidate but to check on their maturity, self-discipline, reliability, ability to work with others (a team needs a lot more than a bunch of developers) and for those others to check that they can get on with the developers. Some of that can be done over a phone or online, but ultimately nothing beats at least one face-to-face meeting if you're going to enter into a long term business relationship with someone.

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