* Posts by Pete 2

2389 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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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Woz's key to success: Burn the tie, wear T-shirts to work

Pete 2
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@Michael H.F. Wilkinson

> Authority is obtained through force of personality, prior achievements, and (most importantly!!) through the quality of arguments given, but not through suit and tie.

First, I must apologise - I laughed.

The thing about working outside of academia is that almost NONE of the decision makers one comes across have the background knowledge or time to assess each proposal, suggestion, argument or bright idea on its technical merits (or otherwise). Having your particular views accepted is essentially a sales process, possibly with some internal politics throw in. It's not a detached and objective weighing of benefits, costs, feasibility and risk. The primary assessment is of the person, not the task.

So, given that you are effectively trying to SELL your suggestion better than the proponents of all the alternatives are pitching theirs, what measures are likely (or: historically have been shown to be successful) to help you gain approval from a time-limited, risk averse and technically second-rate decision maker - possibly one whom you rarely have any contact with (presuming the idea you're proposing is big enough)?

Might I suggest that as well as knowing what you're talking about - just like all your competitors do - that the appearance of professionalism and the flattery that you're taking the process seriously would certainly not harm your presentation. If you can achieve that in a scruffy pair of old jeans and a Primark teeshirt then good on you.

To wind up, while I've taken an example of swaying the decision making process of a significant project here, people are judging you all the time at work. Maybe only in small ways and maybe they are people who are aware of your technical prowess. However, it's unlikely that you're the only person of any ability in your team, so what's wrong with boosting your profile by being both technically good AND presentable, both at the same time?

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Pete 2
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A more reliable key to success

Be quite good at what you do (or at least learn how to do what you've claimed you can, before the delivery deadline). Then be the one in 100 million from the above group who just randomly happens to be in the right place, with the right people at the right time.

As for ties, tees or even trousers: what you wear is so completely irrelevant that you may as well ascribe your success to what you ate for breakfast or the colour of your socks.

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Brits turned off by Smart TVs

Pete 2
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Replacement cycles

> we own fewer Smart TVs than folk in other major European economies

Presumably a lot of brits bought "high definition" or at least HD-ready tellies for the last time a british sports team got somewhere close to a final (wasn't there some sort of football thing a few years ago?). If so, they're not really going to upgrade the box they bought then. Not until someone throws a games controller at the screen or the CCFLs finally die and the repair costs exceed the replacement price.

Plus, we shouldn't forget that a great deal of the content on TV today is either repeats of old, old stuff, or daft reality/talent shows - for which internet connectivity or even HD is irrelevant. Added to which, there's always the disincentive with all things televisual that the box will turn out to be smarter than its owner. Maybe a rename from "smart TV" is in order?

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Paul Allen proposes new space launcher

Pete 2
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How will this puppy abort a launch?

Taking a wild leap, I'd assume this aircraft is designed to take off with rocket and land ONLY without it's payload. That means that each flight/launch has got to be successful. No last minute holds or delays. Once the aircraft's wheels leave the ground, that rocket's either going into orbit or into the ocean.

Now that sort of dependency is probably OK for a mature launch vehicle: one that's had, what? several dozen successful lunches - but to assume that from day#1 the number of "ooops-es" will be low enough to not have customers running back to conventional players is quite a lot to ask for.

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Higgs boson hunters have god particle in their sights

Pete 2
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Gives mass to other particles?

So how can a 126GeV boson impart mass to an electron with a rest mass of 0.51MeV?

Do you need to get lots of electrons together into some sort of timeshare - where they each get 2 weeks of the boson every year (actually, with that provisional energy, it would be more like 2 minutes per year, than 2 weeks).

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Jimbo Wales ponders Wikipedia blackout

Pete 2
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A dangerous course

> Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales is contemplating taking [it] down – temporarily

Apart from having to face the uncomfortable truth that very few people (leaving aside those who define their personalities by controlling their own little wiki fiefdoms) might notice - or care, there's a bigger issue to consider.

What gives this guy the right to say "OK this whole mess will be closed for X number of days"? While it is traditionally his "baby", he effectively gifted it to the world. If he's going to spit his dummy and take it back just because of a little local politics in one small part (the USA is only 5% of the world's population) of the internet, that doesn't bode well for how he'd react if the Wiki mafia (i.e. the editors) decided to go in a direction that he, personally, disagreed with.

If the guy genuinely believed in freedom he'd find another way to demonstrate his political leanings. Causing (some small) inconveniences to other people who have may not have even heard of SOPA, probably have no understanding of it, definitely have no influence over it's passing and ultimately have bigger things to worry about, strikes me as a childish act - and one that could set a precedent with some unintended consequences.

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iPad 3 out in March/April say part maker moles

Pete 2
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I'll be waiting

> The new tablet's key feature is expected to be a 2048 x 1536 display

Not for the iPad but for the new generation of lappies that (hopefully) it will spawn. All with decent resolution screens to match the marketing spec that the iPad3 will set. Even if you need a magnifying glass to get the full benefit from them.

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God particle may be within our grasp

Pete 2
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And then what?

Once CERN does announce its discovery of the Higgs - either soon or at some time in the future, what do all the researchers do after that?

Do all the physicists just pack up their bags, have the Big Bang of all leaving parties and wend their various ways, or do they scramble to come up with a new theory in order to secure future funding to keep themselves and their teams in employment.

Discovering a new fundamental particle is all very nice: don't get me wrong. But this seems to be the final part of the Standard Model. After it's been caught I can just imagine all the non particle-physicists saying "OK, they'd got THE ANSWER, now we need loads of megabucks to continue our work in our field, since these guys have now finished doing their stuff."

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Lovefilm dumps Flash, BLINDS Linux fans with Silverlight

Pete 2
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Lock the catflap, but leave the door open

I can appreciate the film industry doesn't want people making illicit copies of it's sequels, prequels, remakes, derivative works and any actual original films that it may make. However, surely the biggest hole in the "we mustn't let customers copy films" strategy is letting people have the DVDs and Bluray discs in their houses, while never knowing what other media copying equipment they may have?

Looking at the Lovefilm rental offerings, it seems that the average punter still has far greater access to the physical media than they do to downloaded material (3 discs per month, compared to 2 hours of download time) and therefore this represents a much bigger threat/opportunity for naughty people to indulge in a spot of copying than trying to secure the online viewing process?

But then again, this is the film industry we're talking about so it's futile to expect rational thought or a considered strategy from them.

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China gets 64 quid Android 4.0 tablet

Pete 2
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alibaba and friends

People who frequent the chinese online bazaars and exporters will have seen many instances of Android tablets available to UK buyers for < 100 USD (plus whatever VAT/import duty you get dinged with)

Just how you'd deal with a warranty claim could be a show-stopper and they don't seem to be A4, but you can definitely get 'em shipped here for not very much, if low prices are your biggest motivation.

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Voyager probe reaches edge of Solar System's 'bubble'

Pete 2
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And what do you find there?

When you get to the edge of the 'bubble' is there a large sign saying "You are now leaving the Solar System. Only space probes travelling to other stars may go beyond this point. Please have your papers ready for security. You are not permitted to carry the following items ..."

More interesting: what language is it written in?

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Man gets £12,500 after girlfriend probes his medical data

Pete 2
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So, nothing for the illegal access?

The article explains that the sums awarded were for the losses the victim sustained as a result of the access to his records - but no mention is made of any award as a consequence of the unauthorised access itself.

So if you or I had our medical records downloaded (by a partner, stalker, nosey bugger or just randomly), but we didn't suffer any losses as a result, this story doesn't sound like we'd be eligible for any remuneration.

It would be interesting to know if the person who accessed this information has been prosecuted and punished for their acts.

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Just who are you and why does it matter?

Pete 2
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One vital piece of information

> questioning more than 5,000

As well as knowing how many people they *did* survey, we need to be told how many declined to take part. If they had to approach (say) 50,000 to get their self-selecting sample that tells us that 90% of people are more guarded and careful about their personal information than want to discuss it with researchers - or potential scammers: there's little to distinguish them when they're "n the field".

That would tend to put a more conservative slant on the results - though by how much is impossible to say. But possibly enough to make a lot of the results less, or very, insignificant as a result. Without that information we can't form an opinion on their results.

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Crack GCHQ's code and become the next James Bond

Pete 2
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In response:

57 20 66 68 20 67 72 6f 6e 70 66 68 20 72 67 76

66 27 6e 20 51 20 46 42 72 20 72 6b 68 70 6e 67

79 6f 2c 72 71 20 72 62 61 66 67 27 7a 20 6e 72

20 61 67 76 6a 20 79 76 20 79 68 65 0a 61 00 00

ha ha!

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James Bond savages the Kardashians

Pete 2
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Though you have to ask ...

Who's the bigger idiot, the one who puts their life on TV or the one who watches it?

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Best Buy fires parting shot at Dixons with closing down sale

Pete 2
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The theory and the practice

While there's no doubt that in law, at least, you may well still have rights - the exercising of those rights becomes harder when your local sales outlet has closed down.

Instead of just being able to haul your malfunctioning goodies along to the place from whence it came, walking up to the service desk and saying "fit it" or "gimme my monkey back", you now have a disinterested voice in a call centre somewhere in the world who will tell you something like:

"Yes we'll pick it up. No we can't say when. No we can't say how long it'll take to replace. No I don't know if you can get a refund ..." and all the other things that call centres say instead of the ideal: "certainly sir, I'll personally bring round a wad of tenners and take the old crap away. See you in 5 minutes" that we can only dream about.

So in terms of a warranty, sure: it's still there - at least in theory. But instead of invoking that warranty at a time and place of your choosing you are now doomed to wait at home for an indeterminate number of days, fearful that if you even step outside to drop some rubbish in the wheelie bin you'll return to a card on the hall floor: "Sorry we missed you" and will have to restart the whole hellish call centre process all over again. No thanks!

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Pete 2
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Knickers on coat hangers

> retail rival Dixons upping its game.

So that's what it was!

I recently had cause to visit a copy of PC World (aka Dixons) to return an item I'd bought online that didn't meet the description on its website. After getting my refund I had a wander round the store to see if they actually stocked the item I thought I'd been buying (they didn't, but the one I'd bought online was there - for 50% more than the website was charging).

It turns out that the store, a fairly large one, had undergone a revamp since my last visit a year or two ago. While the in-store personnel are still as unwilling as ever to make eye-contact, in case you try to ask them something, the store itself was vastly different. It was now much more themed towards the glossy end of the market: with greater emphasis on big TVs, lappies, and shiny things than their previous rather drab piles of stuff in half-opened boxes. It did seem to me that the actual number of products per running foot of shelf space had taken a drop. Gone were the rows and rows of identical products - with 3 different price stickers (all wrong) at various places on the shelf edge. Instead the displays were much more "boutique" and sparse. With individual items tastefully presented and widely spaced - often with just a single product up for grabs.

It was still the same old stuff that they'd been flogging before, but the presentation (if not the availability) seems to have had a makeover. The carpets seemed cleaner, too.

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Ubuntu penguins build Linux TV challenge

Pete 2
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Just missing one feature ...

... it doesn't appear to contain a TV tuner.

Though I suppose if someone was to go into pedant mode (on El Reg, surely not) and analyse the Latin root of the phrase the ability to receive TV signals could be argued to be superfluous. Having said that, both my (real) TV and my DM run on Linux - so calling this tablet/media-player a TV is rather misleading

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Car safety agency sparks e-car battery probe

Pete 2
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Meanwhile, Hollywood breathes a sigh of relief

Electric cars could mark the end of one of the film industries most over-used cliches. Can you imagine a car chase (in electric cars !!! ) or gunfight where one (or preferably all) the vehicles involved don't catch fire or explode at the slightest provocation?

At least this will save the FX people from having to come up with an even more unlikely source for artificial excitement and story-rescuing spectacular scenes. Though it may mean some script rewriting if the resultant explosions (and now they can introduce sparks and lightning and maybe even electrocutions too) don't happen until a day or two after the event.

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UK.gov to build child army of software coders

Pete 2
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First: teach the teachers

Fine words indeed: let's just train a new generation of softies - why didn't anyone think of that before?

However, in order to train all these new games programmers 'n' all you first have to provide some qualified teaching staff. That would tend to imply that some people somewhere will have to be trained in the dark arts of writing software (and the darker arts of writing software that works properly).

BUT THEN you have to persuade these newly qualified and eminently employable people to not dash off and themselves take all the jobs that their freshly qualified pupils were meant to fill. Jobs that pay lots more than they'd get as teachers. Tricky.

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Global warming much less serious than thought - new science

Pete 2
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It's still only guesswork

And now we have another guess.

From what I've read about CC in general, people take some data, guess what that meant, guess again about what caused it, guess whether the same thing will happen in the future, guess whether mankind did/could/will (or not) have any input into the circumstances and then finally extrapolate those guesses into what should (or not) be done.

Now, I do believe that the UK is, on the whole, seeing some more extreme weather than we're used to. And I am receptive to the idea that this is caused by more energy in the atmosphere and oceans. However, since nobody seems to have a model of the atmosphere and oceans that can estimate next week's weather to any degree of accuracy better than a coin-toss, I am not willing to believe that they can translate their guesses about what it all means into any solid, actionable and reliable plan - or tell us if one's needed.

<This is the point where "climate" people pile in and say that their science is not meteorology. Which is a bit like saying biology is not chemistry. They deal with the same basic elements, but at different levels. However to understand the former you *do* need to have a pretty clear understanding of how the latter works and the basic laws it obeys.>

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Shock: Council dumps data wad - doesn't break any laws

Pete 2
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A website for the non-googlers

OK. This site agglomerates a bunch of stuff about Surrey. Where the schools are, the few roads that the council can't weasel out of not gritting, and which parts of the county are really inner-city hell-holes and not the nice leafy 'burbs we all think of as Surrey.

Fair enough - except ISTM most or maybe all of this information is generally available already. Either from surrey.gov.uk - without the "i" -(which already has a helpful "moving to Surrey" section) or the various organisations that provide these services (we're not in 1995 any more - everyone's got a website). The only feature that this idea has is to bring it all into one (more) place, rather than having to search for it yourself, piecemeal.

So if this is all to help people who are less proficient at searching to find stuff then I suppose the question is: how will they find out about this new service?

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Apple crushes High Street in UK web shopping stakes

Pete 2
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Only in hits, not in sales

from the report:

"But the launch of the iPhone 4S twinned with the sad passing of Steve Jobs saw Apple’s web traffic increase five-fold this quarter"

So it's not really that important, as far as surveys go.

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What should a sci-fi spaceship REALLY look like?

Pete 2
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General Products

A #3 sounds like the best bet as a #4 hull could be a little difficult to park (but you wouldn't have to worry about dings and dents)

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Hero dev writes the CODE that COULD SAVE THE WORLD

Pete 2
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Lots of little objects

> Because then you have *lots* of NEOs and they may still be capable of causing havoc.

But that's not really a "destroy", is it. More like a fork() or a split().

Although that could explain why so much code is so flaky - that destroying an object leaves behind lots of little memory fragments that nobody knows anything about.

Note to NASA; Make sure the garbage collector is running.

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Pete 2
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Methods in the madness

OK, so you have a Near Earth Object that you want to destroy:

How about neo.Destroy;

depending on the language you prefer to save the world, but you get the gist of it.

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Facebook 'shrinks' six degrees of separation theory

Pete 2
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This only works until you try to use it.

So what can the average FB-er do with this information? Not a lot, I would suggest.

These people we only know through "friending" aren't real friends. They never call, they never pop round to see you if you're ill, they never buy you a beer, and would drop you like a hot lump of plutonium if you were ever foolish enough to ask them to inconvenience themselves on your behalf - as you or I would if they asked. (And if they do agree to, that's an even better reason to make sure they never, ever find out where you live.)

As it is, most of these degrees of connectedness go through a proportionally speaking, absolutely tiny number of hyper-connected individuals. People (if they are in fact people) who don't know you exist, apart from being a number among their thousands of followers. So the chances of sending them a message along the lines of "since we've been friends now for 6 months, how about a ....." and getting a meaningful reply are infinitesimally small, to the point of making the whole thing pointless.

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Market watcher ayes claim iPad 3 to sport 1536 x 2048 screen

Pete 2
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One heavy iPad

Yeah, and the batteries will be a b@....d

Maybe Apple will be giving away (stop! What was I thinking? that should be SELLING) shopping trolleys to lug it all around in - you never know, they might even be Apple Carts (and patented, too)

Though I have to say, if Apple did come up with an iPad with this sort of resolution (I miss my 2560 x 1920 CRT ) and a half-decent size - say 28inch - display and a keyboard/mouse then I might buy one.

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UK nuclear: Walking into darkness with eyes screwed shut

Pete 2
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The wrong sort of argument

Lewis, Lewis, Lewis!

While I admire your passion and you may even be right, you won't win any arguments. The problem is that to get public opinion in favour of an idea, that public has to lose something they value. It's no good promising "jam tomorrow" or "a bad thing might/will happen". The various financial crises we've been enduring for the past 3 years shows that nobody is prepared to suffer now for advantages later. Not us, not the greeks: nobody.

if we are going to blame the government (and to be fair, it's parties on all sides, colours, beliefs and abilities) for short-term policies, bowing to NIMBY-ism, prevarications or even carelessness it's because these are the politicians that we have decided to give power to. They reflect us.

Sadly the only way to get some action on energy security is for the country to experience its loss. Not to have the price screwed forever upwards like the mythically boiled frog. It needs a SHOCK to kick-start a new initiative, not a gradual phasing in or gradual price increases. However when that shock happens, just like it did for the economy it will (no doubt) be unexpected, severe and blaming all the wrong people for it's causes (and therefore looking at all the wrong remedies for its solution).

When that happens you may well have a schadenfreude moment, for all the good it will do. Though I'd advise you to have all your evidence printed out and a torch handy, as the lights will be off and the computers won't work.

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Chief rabbi: Steve Jobs' Apple lust spreads misery, despair

Pete 2
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@Vic: Me, my Internet and I

> repeated "i" in Apple product names does indeed have exactly the effect

I did see this coming and hoped I'd avoided this thread with reference to the English language. If the effect the Rabbi was referring to was restricted to the English speaking world then he may have had a point. But consumerism and i<products> are both global phenomena - with the vast majority of consumers having no linguistic connection between "I/me" and i<product> names, so the connection fails on that basis.

So far as it being a joke is concerned, I hope he's got planning on making a living from it. I doubt that injecting that sort of bon mot into an otherwise serious piece would have added to it's credibility and I feel sure he could have come up with something better, given the long history of Jewish humour.

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