Flying pigs next?
One step closer to having to re-write the old saying.
2465 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
One step closer to having to re-write the old saying.
Considering that it's so much more useful than FB, I'm surprised how little it went for.
If I was designing an autonomous vehicle to go motoring around the garden hacking down plants, grass and anything else that got in its way, I'd be drawn to a RC model tank as the basic platform. Apart from the sheer "cool" of a tracked vehicle, I reckon that when you scale up the natural contours of a less than perfectly flat lawn, then that's a reasonable match for something designed to drive over battlefield terrain.
Depending on the amount of ground clearance, there should be scope to mount a rotating-wizzy thing under the chassis; safe for prying fingers, nosy cats and slow-moving grannies. There's also the long-term possibility of doing something with the gun turret. I'd suggest using it as a means of delivering systemic weedkiller to dandelions in the path of the all-conquering garden-force.
Given that this was an offensive, pre-emptive operation by one or two states against another "enemy" state, it will be intersting to see if the USA and Israel (if they really were in cahoots to make the attack) can retain any moral authority in the internet-as-a-battlefield stakes. It does seem that none of the perpetrators will be able to go bleating to anyone if some other state (or maybe even non-state) decides to go after them: either in retaliation or just for LOLs - after all, they started it.
It also make you wonder if this undermines the americans' ability to prosecute cyber-attackers, since they are not above using the same tactics, themselves.
Since cyber attacks are a very good match to asymmetrical warfare, by pulling the cork out of the proverbial these guys may well find that any baddies with a botnet or two could wreak much more damage on them than they managed to incur on their (first?) target.
I just wonder how many moves ahead their strategists were thinking when they decided to start down this particular road?
OK, it would be nice to have a screen that could actually display a 1::1 rendition of the mutli-megapixel snaps that our hyper-giga-sooper-megabyte cameras and phones (complete with their mess-produced, fixed focus little plastic lenses) can take. But that's about it. All that will happen then is people will begin to see the Emperor's New Clothes of a 14Mpix camera that is bugger all use if the shot isn't perfectly focused, and taken with a decent lens (read: costs more than the camera) with a noise-free image sensor, and no camera-shake.
So far as looking at internet p
orn ictures goes, unless they get re-scaled to a suitable DPI, which obviates these extreme resolutions, they'll be about the size of a postage-stamp. Text, likewise.
As for movies, even 1920x1080 formats will need to lose the benefits of all those millions of pixels just to fit properly on the screen - unless you're planning on watching 4 movies simultaneously.
Finally, who actually has eyes that could discern such high resolution? Sure, if you have eyes like an eagle and are viewing in a well-lit (but reflection-free) environment then you might possibly get some benefit from a 4MPix screen on a 13-inch display, but for ordinary people: with or without fully corrected vision, viewing from a sensible distance, this seems like a "we'll do it because we can strategy - just like the megapixel marketing campaigns are with digital cameras.
This is excellent planning by the sounds of it. Just like we're told "never install version 1", it's only sensible to let someone else take the risk, find the problems and iron-out the bugs before committing to a new way of "doing" computing.
Maybe once all the concerns regarding getting your stuff into a cloud environment, getting it out again if the worst happens (and it will), learning how to deal with cloud suppliers who go bust, outfits that don't have top-rate security - or service provision - and learning how to recognise all of these pitfalls. After the problems of where the hell your data actually resides and who controls it have been sorted out we'll then be in a position to ask the basic question:
"What real, hard, monetary and business benefits do I get from handing over the IT part of my business to some complete strangers?"
can start to be addressed. If the answers to all these points makes it clear there are benefits and manageable risks, then - and only then - would it be worth considering.
> We look at the tablet and we think it's going to fail
which it will do eventually. And once it does fail there doesn't appear to be any alternative but to buy another (except, of course, NOT buying another). That's the genius.
Oh, you meant the business model?
All government agencies have their own preservation as the top priority
Hence, any change provides an excuse to add cost, bureaucracy, oversight, additional management and more "information". Even going back to the old ways adds more supervision, time, people and cost into the department.
Just as 1984 is the de-facto handbook for government surveillance of it's enemies - or "citizens" as we used to be known, so Little Dorritt¹ has been the "bible" of every government department for the past 150 years. The only way to break free of the ever-increasing costs, restriction, required-approvals and form-filling is a very long wall and an outsourced firing squad. Sadly, the revolution's been cancelled on Health and Safety grounds - until a full risk assessment is completed.
 The Circumlocution Department, specifically
> ... [people] with higher levels of scientific and mathematical knowledge are more sceptical
and that's all folks!
It's not about climate change, voodoo, astrology, psychology or the latest health fad. It's just a state of mind. Everyone's on the spectrum between iconoclastic and faith-believer. It's just that more people with more rational knowledge will tend to ask "why?" and not be fobbed off with responses that don't stand up to reason,
> Cost of manufacture doesn't suddenly go up because one factory goes offline.
Well, it can do. If an industry loses a percentage of it's supply AND the other, unaffected, suppliers need to step up their production to meet demand there IS a cost to doing that.
These days most manufacturing runs with very little slack. If a plant is designed to make 100,000 gizmos a week then it'll be making that many. Asking for 110,000 gizmos won't just be a case of turning the production line speed up to 11. It'll need more investment, more raw materials (or parts: from subcontractors who in turn are working at 100% capacity), more workers - to be trained, more factory floor space to be built, more storage packing clean-rooms and testing. In fact: more of everything.
If the expectation is that when the "lost" production is restored, all that extra investment will be standing idle you can't really expect the plants' owners to finance that expansion without wanting to recoup their costs.
Don't try this without expert supervision. Get your tongue stuck in the tread at speed could well be grounds for divorce.
If this "platoon" is dependent on the lead lorry to provide guidance, what happens when LL fails, breaks, or loses its wifi?
I appreciate that this is more of a testbed/demonstrator than a viable option, but the key question isn't so much "can it be made to work?" but should be "what happens when it fails?" Even requiring each vehicle to have a drive who could take over isn't a complete solution. If that driver is busy doing something else: reading the paper, having lunch, getting "cosy" with the passenger, leaning out of the window trying to lick the tyres - or whatever else bored drivers get up to. If the driver can't get back to a position where they can take over quickly, or the car doesn't do something sensible on it's own then the system can't be usable.
Hopefully this particular implementation won't crash and kill everyone involved each time it goes past a roadside cafe offering free WiFi!
But kiloWatt*hours are a useful unit, as they have a direct connection to people's experience and their consumption of electricity. It's easy to know that if you run a 1kW electric fire for one hour how much electricity that equates to in the units that it's billed in. From that follows the cost of your action.
In the same way, we measure petrol consumption in miles per gallon, km per litre, litres per 100 km or some other variant of distance and volume. We don't feel the need to consider that distance is measured in units of length and the "per" is dividing that length by a volume (i.e. length cubed) unit. That would mean that logically petrol consumption should be stated in "inverse square feet" or some similarly meaningless definition.
Maybe the most fortuitous outcome from this publicity stunt could be the widespread adoption of these "magic" tiles by the ignorant, innumerate and terminally trendy. With luck they'll be so in awe of this new way of getting so
little much energy at so high low a price that they'll rush to install them in their own homes. Then, come the time of accounting: when the invoice for the tiles' supply and installation doesn't match (or even come within 0.1%) the cost of electricity consumed they might just begin to ask questions.
Although the obvious question they'll probably ask is "why weren't these tiles installed properly, to get the savings I thought I should have?" it might just come to pass that one or two of the II&TT's would start to question the whole premise of energy-saving wheezes that are targeted at them, as a whole. If that does happen, at least the monumental cost and complete fallacy the exercise was based on will have some, small (about as small as their energy "saving") benefit.
> a sign to other 'lazy' countries
I was thinking more in terms that the consequences (of exiting the euro) would be a clear message to the people in those "threatened" countries. So instead of them adopting a Mikawber-esque attitude and thinking "it's not that bad, something/someone will sort it out for us", they'll see that WHEN their turn comes, the consequences will be real, painful and immediate. At that point, they might just decide to stop avoiding taxes (a big problem the greek govt. had - Spain too) reform their ways of working (the term "spanish practices" came from somewhere ;)) and start living within their means.
I agree with you about monetary union. The problem was that the agrarian economies were no real match for the industrial economies - no matter how well they had "synced" their fiscal states. Now, if the euro had originally been called the Euromark, that might have made the balance of power a little more apparent to all the deadbeat countries who thought they were equal partners - and spent EU grants and took out EU loans accordingly. A lot of countries "peg" their currencies to a stronger one - usually the US dollar. It could be time that the euro was rearranged a little so that instead of a single currency without political union, the eurozone currencies either got a peg to the Euro(mark) or seriously all got into the same bed and agreed on a political basis, too.
So far as the consequences for the euro - it might even be a good thing. It would show that the politicians were willing to cut away the rotten states. Financial markets fear nothing more than they fear uncertainty. So far "europe" has been prevaricating and fudging the issue, while it's clear to all the speculators what needs to be done, and should have been done years ago. Maybe they have been betting on a breakup. After all, every other previous currency union has failed. Some strong action may make the speculators rethink their position.
The greek GDP is about 300 Bn euros a year. Compare that with the eurozone GDP of over 7 Tn - it's less than 5%. Now I appreciate that everything's connected to everything else and that the european (probably worldwide, too) banking systems are more brittle that Windows 3. However the UK managed to Quantitatively Ease more than that amount all on it's lonesome. With two or three eurozone countries pitching in, we could probably buy the whole of Greece for the price of a busted bank or two (and we have a few of those on the books, if anyone's interested).
So what happens if Greece does get the boot? At the very least it will serve as an example to others. Maybe when the rest of southern europe sees Greece turn (back) into a third world country in the space of a week - possibly followed by the traditional Coup d'Etat, it will galvanise then into thinking that maybe getting off their arses and paying their taxes is the lesser of two evils.
> Starring Justin Bieber ... Barbara Streisand ...
Having watched ToTP 1977 last night, shouldn't that be Barbra Streisand (though I'm not blameless, for many years I thought her last name was Streisland)
The biggest achievement of SpaceX is in doing what they've done at a low cost. That's the advantage of a private enterprise over a government programme. It's also the future of space development.
What we need now is to introduce a little competition into the game - hopefully without a patent-war. That will help turn the current "old technology" solutions into something better and innovative. That's really the only role governments should have in space development: to be the munificent customer.
Personally I would thoroughly support any initiative that helped protect children and other impressionable members of society from exposure to the Daily Mail.
That 2GB of flash sounds handy - instantaneous bootage (well, close) and having all the ports along one edge is definitely a good move.
This is exactly the sort of competitive reaction that benefits consumers and users. Anyone want to buy my Pi?
... a shudder went through the Trekkie fan base as it aborted and they all heard a voice in their heads:
"Cap'n the engines canna take it!"
> [Apples] ... magical and revolutionary products
Dang, you mean Apple have patented magic?
So the best thing a crim can do is to make sure his/her speed-dial list contains the numbers of the Top Cop, a few Members of P, some high profile journalists (ex-NotW, 'natch) and some extra-litigious lawyers. Just call them all up from time to time to establish credibility and then go about your business. Maybe for extra points, some photoshopped happy-snaps of said crim and high-profile copper's head in compromising positions.
If you do get your phone's collar felt (or downloaded) it's a good bet that once those "VIP" numbers and piccies start to appear, the data they took will get conveniently lost.
> Pointing out ... hardly makes me a fanboy.
Errrrm, I though I was agreeing with you. it's the people who can't stand any criticism that amuse me.
> I can't work out why 'It'sa Mea... Mario' has been downvoted. His comment was purely factual, save for his 'hoorah'. Really.
ISTM the Pi has gained "iPhone" status - there is a (small but vocal) collection of
fanb admirers who will not hear a bad word against it. Whether there's a correlation between its fans and those who have actually touched one, is something I'd be interested in knowing.
> without any significant government help. ... Some people think that ought to change
Possibly the worst thing that could happen to the UK space industry (and by that I don't mean satellite TV) is government involvement. If they want to help, they can promote space science in education, make permits, planning and finance easier to obtain but otherwise STAY OUT OF THE WAY.
The UK has an unhappy history with space exploration - which was all government sponsored and fell prey to the whims of bean-counters far from the action. If there's to be any continued success or growth of the UK industry, it should learn from the lessons of the 60's and keep government interference at arms length.
Even NASA's three-legged "fighting machines" are as described in the book - though they're smaller than I imagined
It's the Mark 1. We know (some through experience and some by learning from the mistakes of others) all about "Mark 1"'s.
Although I doubt if they planned it like this, but the RPi people seem to have got the hacker community to do the beta-testing for them. Discovering the real-world problems is always a necessary task and one that's usually devolved to the early adopters who, through the powers of marketing, seem to be happy to spend their money on unproven stuff in return for the bragging rights of "I was in at the beginning".
[Disclaimer: sometime between now and (hopefully) christmas (hopefully 2012) I'll get to the top of the list and be invited into the RPi store, too.]
What should be happening now is that the professional designers will be looking at all the criticisms and feedback. They'll be tearing apart the initial designs and looking for improvements. With some luck, the current run of Mark 1's will be superceded by faster, cooler (in all senses), more reliable boards using up-to-date chips with more memory, peripherals and a better layout (you really don't want I-O on all sides of the board) that may cost more but be generally better suited to mass-use.
Depending on when that happens, I may grab a Mk 1 when the time comes - or I may get the opportunity to buy a Mk2 when the current design gets obsoleted.
We reckon that the cost of a production server taking an unexpected dive averages about £5,600. It might be a made-up figure, but it's one that drives a fair number of budgetary decisions around here.
Yesterday there were no server crashes ... kerrr-ching! Look at that, we've "saved" the company over £300 grand (52 prod. servers) in a single day. Surely for that massive saving, the IT department deserves a rise? In fact, there haven't been any unscheduled outages for a couple of weeks now, which puts the IT "savings" at something greater than our departmental budget.
Given how many (ahem) crashes I personally didn't cause last year I can boast a saving to the company of several million. Surely that means HR should employ more IT staff - none of whom cause any crashes, thus saving even more? Strangely, they're not buying it.
However, I'm sure that with their accounting methods the BSA has IT staff coming out of their ears. Even if they count the cost of an outage at much, much less than we do, they will still be in the money by employing more and more people who don't kill their computers.
... must come down.
Sooner or later someone's going to ask the embarrassing question: what's their intrinsic value? That can only be quantified by the amount of living, typing product they have available - the number of actual people who use the site regularly. Unlike Google, which doesn't have "users" in the conventional sense: people who have created an account and visit the site frequently, FB is dependent on the number of people who actively partake of the site and receive their advertisements. It doesn't take much (ref: every other social website that's floated) to realise that users are a fickle bunch. Just because a site is popular, now, with todays generation of teenage web users, that doesn't mean that todays 8 year-olds will necessarily want to use such an "old" technology in 5 or 6 years time. If that does come to pass, then the shelf-life of FB and its stock value could be about as perishable as a piece of fish.
leaves on the server?
With General de Gaulle on accordion
> ... who goes on training courses on subjects or skills he is fully conversant in
Actually, I think you'll find he's the guy who is sent on those courses by colleagues (who willingly transfer their training credits to him) just so they can get him out of the office for a while.
Sorry, but unless the volume is expressed in olympic swimming pools I have no idea how much (or little) that is.
If they need a source of cheap programme content (and they will, 'cos they won't be in a position to make any themselves - not on their budgets) there's already a thick vein of unspeakable dross ready and waiting. I can see that in the few minutes per hour that is NOT advertising, the lone employee will be tasked with doing searches for "Oxford" or "Southampton" on YT and then plugging whatever comes out into the TV transmitter.
> OpTIIX is exciting because if the "adaptive optics" experiment is successful, it'll pave the way for much larger, free-flying telescopes in the future
Uhhh, don't almost all ground-based professional telescope already use AO? Haven't they developed it for many years in order to reduce the effect of atmospheric turbulence on their cameras. Why would you need to put this as an "experiment" on a space-based telescope that was above the atmosphere, if you only want to look at stars through it?
However, if you wanted a space-based telescope that was looking downwards through the atmosphere, to spy on people then I can see the benefit - and where the funding would come from.
Now, I appreciate that vibration from all the machinery inside the ISS makes it a no-no for anything that needs precision pointing, but the simple solution to that is (as has been done since the beginning of the space era) is to NOT put your telescopes on a platform that wobbles it's way around the planet. Hubble, JWT and all the other observation satellites managed this decades ago, so it's mystifying why we suddenly need a telescope on what is probably the least suitable orbital location.
I can see that some of the other attributes of this experiment: kit telescopes, are useful. But AO on an extra-atmospheric 'scope? What's it really meant for?
People want the shares simply because there's a demand. The plan being to buy what you can then sell quick (stagging) for a profit. Since FB is such a massive company, those traders who need a "balanced portfolio" will be forced to hold some FB stock, just to maintain the balance - irrespective of how many veiled profit warnings FB announced this morning.
Now, the problem is that if there are more announcements (FB said they don't make as much from mobile users - and their proportion is growing) or if the markets decide that FB isn't the golden child they thought it was a year or two back, then all the fizz goes out of the proposition and those left holding shares at the IPO price would have to take a loss if they sold them.
Personally, I don't give a rat's arse either way. They say that the only way to make a million quid on the stock market is to start with 2 million. And given the way it's going these days, it's no longer the sure thing it was in the 80s (when you literally couldn't get hold of a broker on floatation day ... grrrrr).
As it is, the history of internet stocks shows that they all go through an initial boom, followed by a decline into nothingness. The only question is was FB's boom last year, before they floated?.
> who we are supposed to be fighting with these carriers and planes?
Ans: nobody. They're like nuclear weapons (i.e. terribly expensive, bought from the americans as we can't make our own and never intended to be used). The point about having an offensive capability is status, not security. There's no possibility that these weapons of war will ever be used to repel an invader. However the threat that we could bring them to bear against some other poor schmuk in a faraway country affords us a place at the table, in the Security Council. The fact that we don't, demonstrates our restraint and maturity (or possibly the secret, kept, that they don't actually work).
These weapons allow the politicians to swagger about, pretending to be statesmen (or women) and to show magnanimity by deploying them to help "friendly" (i.e. oil-rich) countries/peoples with the implied debt to be paid by them selling their resources to us, instead of to other countries that can't bomb the crap out of people they don't like.
In political terms, they help preserve our influence in the world. In footballing terms: attack is the best form of defence. In the animal kingdom, so long as you look big and threatening others will leave you alone. Sadly we've got ourselves into the situation where none of these aphorisms work for us any more - or we've been sussed. Even more sadly, the defence companies keep persuading the politicians that they still hold true.
The key to understanding this decision (or any government decision, come to that) is that by the time this carrier comes into service and it's shiny new aircraft arrive - either horizontally or vertically - there will have been an election. No government has the ability or will to look further ahead than the next ballot, as they'll either be out of power or have new and more interesting problems to
screw up solve. By that time, or even further ahead when/if an enemy emerges that needs the might of an aircraft carrier's planes to defeat it, nobody will remember who decided what (and those who did decide will all be on the boards of various defence companies, anyway) and how to bring them to book.
I expect this decision was not driven by strategic thinking, but by expediency: JFDI or CYA or both. As it is, the chances of a government official being able to outwit a company that's dedicated its existence to squeezing as much money as possible out of it is slight. Even if such a brainiac politician was in the right place at the right time, the defence suppliers only have to wait until the next election for that person to be reshuffled and replaced by someone more "amenable".
> Venus in rare Sun crossing next month
Clouds in common Sun crossing next month, next week, tomorrow and most of the rest of the "summer"
Though if you do fancy a shot, £20 for an A4 sheet of Baader film for your telescope is fine. Comz1 is correct - just make sure you buy the ND5 film, not the "weaker" one meant for astrophotograhy.
> previous "stealth wallpapers" developed for the defence sector cost roughly £500 per square metre, the researchers reckon rolls of this new decor will be reasonably priced,
It's probably exactly the same stuff, made in the same way by the same people. The only difference is this is closer to the true price, without the added "overheads" of dealing with a government department that has an infinite supply of money at its disposal that it's determined to (over)spend.
> "It’s not entirely clear to me why the Beagleboard is so expensive ... "
We are told the Pi took 6 years to develop. I'm guessing that during the time the developers had proper jobs and regarded the Pi as a sort of altruistic hobby. It definitely wasn't going to be a source of income during those years.
Consequently all the time and resources used for the development process are a sunk cost and don't have to be recouped from the unit-price of the eventual product. That's what makes the Pi different from commercial offerings. In these cases the years (or more likely: months, for time is money) of developer time has to be paid for - in salaries, equipment and facilities.
We also know that given a large enough production run (say for a mobile phone) these costs don't add a great deal to each board when you're producing a million of them. Even less if all you have to do is add new features/power to an existing design. However for a low-sales, niche market that only produces one-hundreth the number of units, those same costs will contribute 100 times as much to the price of each board made.
Maybe the longest lasting legacy of the Pi won't be introducing children to little motherboards, but will be the creation of a low-cost, open sourced basis for future embedded hardware.
> a definite 200-year-long cool period which corresponds with the onset of the "Homeric Minimum"
Maybe we'd better all stop writing ancient greek prose, just in case.
> "The government agreed with our assessment that the central system for assuring major projects was not optimal," the NAO says, and the government has since set up the Major Projects Authority (MPA)
Add more committees and paperwork. It's a poor substitute for talented project leaders, but it's the only substitute we have.
> Some broadcaster suits will take [40% of people being online while watching TV] as a call to make TV more interactive, while others will see the need to make shows more engaging so people put the damn
notebook tablet phone down, and watch.
It could go the other way. That TV producers will assume that if people aren't actually watching, they can reduce the "quality" of the programming. I suppose the direction it will take will be determined by whichever option lets them make the most hours of
filler content for the least amount of money.
> thames charge 117p per tonne plus 580p for disposal
Holy crap! (actually, that might explain it) Thames charge us the same 117p / m³ to deliver but only 59p/m³ to take it away again. Odd that they're charging you 10 times as much.
p.s. to AC 15:22: awwwwww! did someone not get their hug today?
> ... and the creeping rationing of water meters continued to spread
Personally I was very pleased to see the advent of "rationing" when the installation of a water meter at our house dropped the annual bill from a flat-rate £440 to a pay-for-what-you-use cost of £160 p.a. Though it's worth noting that this is still significantly higher; both in standing charge and in cost per m³, than water bills in "dry" areas such as the desert regions of Spain.
As for the rest of the article, TL;DR
Question 5: In comparison with steel, what is pure iron like?
Q1, part (c) Describe the action of heat on:
(i) Sodium hydrogen carbonate
(ii) lead(II) nitrate
For further marks, determine which question came from (a) the AQA Extracting metals and making alloys section on the BBC website and (b) the 1973 O&C Chemistry O Level paper
Was it Yes Minister or Dilbert who suggested the idea of countering a disastrous project failure with a meaningless reorganisation?
It does seem to me that a random swapping of job titles won't excuse pouring £17Bn down the drain - though given the amount of talent in government, a quick reshuffle is probably the best they can manage.
However, if our overlords and rulers are so worried about IT "waste", why not change the certainly useless Chief Social Scientist role into something useful - like a Chief Computer Scientist job? In fact, given government's history with IT projects, they probably don't need an actual person to fulfill the role. A framed notice will do - it would read "It'll cost more than you can imagine, it'll be delivered late or not at all and it'll never work properly".
... with the three channels of snooker on at the moment.
(For those who want to check: BBC2, BBC HD and channel 301)