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* Posts by Pete 2

2345 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

So, what exactly defines a 'boffin'? Speak your brains...

Pete 2
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Re: The socks have it

> the Pyke scale should be logarithmic

Tricky one, for two reasons.

First of all, is the scale additive or multiplicative? If one has a box in the lab shed marked "lasers: misc." that puts you somewhere on the scale. Likewise if you just happen to own a mass spectrometer (or have a penchant for high altitude balloons), you would also be on there, somewhere. However if you have both does that make you a boffin by the sum of those devices "boffinism" or does it imply a greater area of boffinism, hence multiplying (or adding the log()'s) of the individual contributions.

Secondly, how would a logarithmic scale denote a person with zero boffinism? log(0) is not a defined value and there are no log()'s of negative values and log(<fraction>) comes out to be < 0.0.

In the spirit of making things as complicated as necessary a logarithmic scale would need to be calculated something like:

($value == 0 ? 0 : sign($value) * log(abs($value+1))/log(2))

Where the log(2) is a normalisation, so that a 1 Pyke boffin gets assigned a value of 1.0 - we wouldn't want them to be too Pyke-y, would we?

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Pete 2
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The socks have it

It would be very easy to label a boffin with physical characteristics: Einstein's hair, Patrick Moore's dress sense (not that I'm suggesting Sir PM ever wore a dress), Brains from Thunderbirds glasses. However, that would be shallow.

No. A true boffin would be a person who was wonderfully at home with all sorts of abstract notions. Who has a brain the size of a planet and is able to explain simple facts and phenomena in such complex and technical terms that no-one without and equally sized brain would have a clue what he/she/it was taking about. If they have to lapse into differential equations, tensor algebra or Schwartzian Transforms to "explain" - then so much the better.

A true boffin would also be totally mystified by the inability of us ordinary folk to follow their descriptions and train of thought.

One other thing that a boffin would always do, would be to require strict, technical, definitions and (of course) units of measurement to quantify whatever it is they are referring to - including their own boffinry. I would like to offer the Pyke as a unit of boffinry. 1 Pyke would adequately describe Dr. Magnus, himself. With perhaps a milli-Pyke being the level you attain by wearing mis-matched socks (and 2 mPyke for only wearing one sock). There could, of course, be negative values: attributed to individuals who not only didn't meet the requirements of boffinry, but who actually eschewed them. Being organised, pretty or understandable would count against and that's why there are so few boffins on TV any more.

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Google: Why should we pay tax when we make 'intangibles'?

Pete 2
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If I can't see it, it doesn't exist???

> the benefits it brings to the local economy are intangible

And the attributes that taxes pay for are equally intangible. You know, all those airy-fairy "things" that we all enjoy, that without a tax-paying population we wouldn't have. All the stuff that governments use our money to buy (duck houses notwithstanding) for us.

Things like: security, stability and laws. Whaddaya mean? you thought the police and the teachers and suchlike were all paid for by the mythical "they". The same people so often cited in phrases such as "they really should do something about ... " Or that there was some infinitely deep pot of money that paid for all the "free" services we have. All the education, health, welfare - you could even put BBC TV (oh yeah, and radio) into that category.

These features of our society might be intangible. They might be so subtle or ubiquitous that we forget they exist or just assume they'll always be there - a bit like The Internet, without which Google and its ilk would never exist, However, it's exactly those properties that make one (developed) country or another more or less attractive to multinationals and mega-corporations - which presumably, is why Google has chosen to have a presence in Australia,

You'd hope that a provider of internet services would have a bit more of a clue about where her business comes from and what it's based on.

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We're ALL Winston Smith now - and our common enemy is the Big Brother State

Pete 2
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Honesty is the best policy

One of the inter-generational differences (whether it's the metaphorical cart the or horse in this argument I don't have the insight to say) is attitudes towards honesty: telling the truth - whatever "truth" turns out to be.

One of the many throwaway lines in the BBC sitcom Just Good Friends (other than the innoculation classic: "didn't you feel a prick?" "Well, Penn, I was a bit embarassed") was Penny's admonishing Vince for telling lies and getting the reply "That's because I'm a liar" and after that the whole topic was dropped and the story moved on. Vince tells lies: it's no big deal.

These days, it seems, that "being a liar" doesn't mean telling people that it's "black" when really it's "blue". But that lying now means not volunteering every single piece of relevant, or otherwise, information at the earliest opportunity - what used to be called "blabbing". Worse than that: being caught lying (telling actual black is blue untruths) is portrayed as being such a heinous crime that the very thought of it is, well, unthinkable. So much for "ooops, you got me" and brushing it aside.

In such an environment, where information is offered freely to or even: forced on a person, how can the generation brought up thinking that way act any differently? They have it drummed into them that giving information is mandatory. That withholding it is "sinful". That you must tell the truth all the time, to everyone, no matter what the consequences for anyone involved.

So when a big, bad, internet giant says "tell us everything", they blab. Age, height, weight, most intimate thoughts, address, list of 50 closest friends, political leanings, shoe size, suspicions about classmates, inside leg measurement, which musician they'd most like to have sex with, hair colour, medical history, favourite programmes and fantasies about their teachers. Hell, even PV-ing is less intrusive.

Whether this is considered "being honest", or is simple naivety, or some sort of catharsis we'll never know. The good thing is that all this data gets lost in the mix along with the billions of other personal records. Fortunately for all these data-givers, so little of it is either interesting or relevant.

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Texan parks quadcopter atop Dallas Cowboys stadium

Pete 2
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A quadcopter by any other name

Flying a quadcopter in Texas?? Isn't that known colloquially as a "target"

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GAME ON: Top 10 tellies for a World Cup kicking

Pete 2
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Re: Expensive & pointless

> Have you tested that hypothesis

Have a read of Ars Technica's article from the beginning of 2014 that blows holes through the myths of the benefits of curved screens.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/01/whats-the-deal-with-curved-tvs/

They give a very detailed analysis of what most people instinctively know,

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Pete 2
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Reality bites

OK, here comes the paring knife.

Let's forget about 4k. As the BBC says "They [ the 3 matches they will stream ] will only be made available to a limited number of TVs at BBC sites". So a 4k telly is bugger all use. That knocks out #1, #5, #8 (doubly so for being curved) and #10.

Curved screens are a classic "because we can" that have no practical use - unless you're a billy no-mates and watch everything by yourself in a completely darkened room. Just make sure you don't trip over your cat (of which, no doubt, you have many) when you stagger out to recycle all the tins of strong lager that are now pressurising your bladder.

And for the rest: oooh. a huge screen - over-compenasting, much?

Oh yeah, a projector, too? I suppose that works if you want to spend the whole match time trying to get the picture "right", while not projecting it onto that vase in the corner of the room and avoiding both the door (makes the action go away when someone opens it) and the curtains.

To summarise. You already have a perfectly good TV. You probably have several. Just sit down, make yourself comfortable: six-packs on one side, crisps on the other, remote somewhere safe and the phones off the hook.

Enjoy.

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

Pete 2
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Intelligence on the internet?

The ability to imitate a 13 y/o boy is a good goal - if you're a 12 y/o boy.

However, I feel that if Alan Turing was alive today, and looked at the traffic on the world's most popular social media sites, he would (quite naturally) assume that they were test-beds for AI's and that there was still a long, long way to go before any of them appeared even faintly human.

If this result tells us anything, it's that a test devised right at the dawn of the IT era, before there was any experience of AI to draw on, is too limited to be useful. Just as we don't believe that aircraft imitate birds (even though they both fly), we shouldn't consider this anything like a computer imitating a person.

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Euro judges: Copyright has NOT changed, you WON'T get sued for browsing the web

Pete 2
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Re: OMG Mirrors!

> If a newspaper is copied in the forest and there's nobody there to read it, does ....er ......

does a bear use it for toilet paper?

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Pete 2
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Is this what the EU is for?

to provide technical support to the bewigged-ones and prevent they from hitting the STOP button on the internet whenever they get a panic attack from all this newfangled tech-knowledgery that has suddenly appeared all around them.

If so, maybe it IS earning the billions we chuck at it every year </ohcraphowdiditgetthisbad>

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Freeview's rumoured '£100m YouView killer' is real – and it's yet another digital TV thing

Pete 2
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The Magic Roundabout

> manufacturers to launch a new range of connected Freeview HD televisions and boxes which consumers will be able to buy in store

Gottit! A gizmo to make TV watchers buy yet another gadget. Given the failure of 3D (which never actually was 3D, just a trick of perspective) and curved screens - surely the dumbest idea so far this century (really: tellies that only show an undistorted picture if you happen to be the one person sitting in the sweet spot AND which gathers all the reflections from everywhere in the room and beams them directly into your eyes?). Given those failures brilliant marketing strategies, the TV industry desperately needs to get us all buying more crap.

What better than telling us that the smart TVs we've bought over the past 5 years are all now obsolete,as they won't have the software to receive this new service (and after the first and probably only software upgrade, won't be able to receive it in the future - after someone, somewhere changes something and we all have to whip out our wallets again).

The only question that the once bitten, twice shy consumers should be asking is "what guarantees are there that this platform, with it's multiple content providers, won't implode under the weight of it's own infighting in a few years time and we all have to shell out again, just to get back to watching all the TV that wasn't good enough to watch live when it was first broadcast?"

Personally, I give it up until just before the 2018 world cup. What a coincidence that would be?

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Queen's Speech: Computer Misuse Act to be amended, tougher sentences planned

Pete 2
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Pro or con?

> sentences for attacks on computer systems fully reflect the damage they cause

How about requiring some of the responsibility for insecure and badly designed systems to fall on the heads of the people who design or (mis)manage them? One of the properties of being a "professional" person is taking responsibility for the quality of your work (on the basis that it is specialised and therefore beyond the grasp of "ordinary folk" to understand or critique) and that you have a duty of care towards those who place their trust in your services.

Maybe if people who's designs were so flawed - or who cut out every failsafe, oversight, procedural check or protection mechanism for reasons of cost or stupidity - that they amounted to criminal negligence were held to account there would be at least a start to getting some half-decent, secure software. What we have at the moment is like blaming the woodworms when your house falls down.

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Former Microsoftie becomes US ambassador, opts to swear in on KINDLE

Pete 2
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Re: Was the UK tax paid?

> The oath was made at the American embassy in London

The embassy will be considered U.S. soil and therefore not part of the E.U. or the U.K. (except for when it suits the embassy staff: such as to watch UK TV (which, according to the broadcast copyrights may only be watched in the UK), using "our" air and water, etc.

And as for taxes: given that the U.S. along with Russia and a few others, mostly equatorial-belt dictatorships, refuses to pay UK taxes and levies such as the congestion charge¹, traffic violations and parking tickets, I don't think there's much hope they'd do the honourable thing here, either.

[1] ref: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-23266149

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Pete 2
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Up the river

> She took an oath of office on Monday ... placing one hand on a Kindle Touch

One would hope the object at the centre of the swearing in has some idealogical meaning for the swear-ee. That it reflects their core beliefs and/or values and that this is what they are linking to the oath they profess,

In that case, it's not just the symbolism of what's on open display, as bibles and other holy books are closed for the oath, so what's displayed is unimportant - save for identifying the object for what it is. But the symbolic quality of the object resides in all the other texts, ideas and values contained within.With the Kindle, one would assume that contains Amazon's terms and conditions for use (among other things).

One of the sentences says:

By using the Kindle, any Reading Application or the Service, you agree to be bound by the terms of this Agreement.

And with this swearing in, the Kindle has definitely been "used", if not for the intended purpose: but used is used. Has she just sold her (diplomatic) soul to Amazon?

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REVEALED: GCHQ's BEYOND TOP SECRET Middle Eastern INTERNET SPY BASE

Pete 2
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Britain's got secrets

> classified 3 levels above Top Secret

Looks like the good old Top Secret isn't quite so "top" any more.

A case of inflation or just using the "onion" strategy of having layer upon layer?

It does make you wonder, though. At what level are things really kept secret, so that only those who need to know, actually *are* the only ones who do know. And what is it that they seriously don't want us (or The Guardian) to know about.

We should be told!

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Google to plonk tentacles on 'unwired' world with $1bn launch of 180-satellite fleet

Pete 2
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Re: The poor is where the money is

> Not much per person but there are so many of them

It's not just poor people, but poor people in remote areas. Even in third world countries, a large proportion of the population are city dwellers.

So if their countries' infrastructure is so bad that there aren't even any phone lines (or internet cables) that can reach these cut-off individuals - will the roads be in any better shape? How are the goods they buy from all the tantalising advertisements going to be delivered?

Please let the advertising be for stuff that will actually help improve lives: not just for games add-ons and pr0n.

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The fresh Mint of dwell there: This is a story all about how 17 is here for a while

Pete 2
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Going off the rails

> All versions of Mint until 2016 will use exactly the same base as this version

Which means that everything will work fine ... until you change something. Just like with all Linux distros.

It also presumes that everything you could ever want is available through one of the "approved" repositories. And that the software version available there is fully up to date with both bug fixes and features.

If only that were true.

While most people who's daily usage is limited to surfing, playing videos, knocking out the occasional document and possibly spreading some sheet - then everything will be fine. But what happens once you stray off the path? If you "need" an application (say a wizzy new webcam app) that isn't on the list of blessed software - or only has a version several major releases behind. What then. You find a repository, add that to the list, download your new application and all it's dependencies.

And there's the problem ... You're no longer on an LTS release. Your dependencies could include many newer library versions, updates of other, dependent, programs and possibly even security fixes that your LTS doesn't recognise or support. if you dare to buy new hardware during the 2 years of LTS-ness, there' every likelyhood that you'll have to look above and beyond the official suppositories to get the support, drivers and libraries you need to get your new toy to play.

2 years is a long time in the Linux world, and things change quickly. What are the chances you'll want a change, too?

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DIY IoT computer smaller than a square inch

Pete 2
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Linux on the postage stamp

> The 25 x 25mm embedded system

Electric motors revolutionarised (groan!) the world. They're in most powered appliances these days - but they're "invisible": just one of the components that we don't give a second thought to.

This little thingy, and its future generations could do the same.

While there are embedded microcontrollers that are just as ubiquitous as electric motors, they tend to be single operation, uncommunicative, non-networked, un(re)programmable devices that are indistinguishable from all the other chips, and are there simply to replace a handful of logic chips and keep costs lower.

However, these devices will be exposed to the outside world. They have networking capabilities and therefore can be accessed by anyone with a Wifi transceiver connected to a keyboard (whether you want them to connect, or not). Not only is that their strongest feature, it's also their biggest drawback. Apart from the hacking vulnerabilities, a dependency on a network link that can disappear, be reconfigured or suffer RFI is just another thing to go wrong. So while these could turn the IoT into reality (once the Mk 2 gets its power consumption down) I really hope that whoever is making these devices, or embedding them in their products, is gearing up to provide an extremely highly staffed help-desk.

Maybe that's where the real money is to be made?

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The hoarder's dilemma: 'Why can't I throw anything away?'

Pete 2
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What goes around ...

> This column is a repeat publication

We know that TV "stops" (well, stops broadcasting anything worthwhile) during the summer ... and for the month or two over christmas ... and at weekends and various random times throughout the year when the american broadcasters go for a lie down and screen sports instead of entertainment - and we have to stop too, in case we accidentally see something good first.

So in the spirit of repeats, let's have a few commentards repeat some tardy comments.

Here's a possibly prescient offering from October 2007: (filed under Olympic ticketing system crashes under demand)

and in 4 years time ....

... what's the betting we'll see this exact same story again, only with a different country in the frame?

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Automating repetitive tasks: If it moves, script it

Pete 2
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Speed kills

> automation can also weed out errors that may creep in

Automation can also apply the same cocked-up commands to all your databases in the blink of an eye. At least with manual operations, you know something's wrong after you've destroyed the first production instance. It's then possible (maybe even desirable?) to stop and investigate before breaking all the others.

While I'm a great fan of automation (as previously discussed here), I do realise that it's a "force multiplier" rather than unconditionally good. It can help you do good or bad things much faster. However it's also prone to problems when someone changes something that knocks your automatoin off it's rails (maybe something as simple as changing a password - always hard to automate *and* keep secure) or "fixing" a misspelled table name.

However automation can free up ones time to allow for more goofing around on IT forums. Sometimes that even gets mistaken for work.

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Google: Grab our TOOL if you want your search query quashed

Pete 2
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Real or imaginary

> provide valid photo ID, such as a copy of their passport or driving licence

Strictly speaking, they are asking for an ID. Or something that looks like it's an ID. Or rather: a scan or photo of something that looks like an ID which may or may not have been doctored.

Whether the name or photo on the electronic copy of the (real or fake) document is actually the person (or their agent) who is asking for this take-down is not something that Google has any way of verifying. Unless they are planning to try mugshot matching against their collection of individuals in photos that someone may have correctly tagged.

One assumes that this is merely a deterrent, rather than any sort of checkable auditable "proof". And that if someone does decide to be a little bit naughty and asks for someone else's (maybe <shock!> not even an EU citizen's) URLs to be removed, then there's nothing really that can be done. Except for Google to email the falsely removed victim and ask "is this you?" Which then just starts the cycle of verfication and validation all over again. Without any absolute proof of anyone's actual identify ever being independently validated.

But it does give Google a nice little stash of supposedly government issued ID documents (gee, I hope they are kept safe!) submitted by people with something to "hide" and a pointer to what it is they want to keep quiet. It would be a real shame if that collection of IDs and hush-ups ever got out. Is this really privacy, or is it actually making things worse?

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For your next privacy panic, look no further than vending machines

Pete 2
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Re: More useful to look at those who do *not* buy

> figure out the average age of those likely to use it, to better target the inventory on offer.

Well, yes. The vendors already know what inventory is most popular (since those are the products they have to refill most often). So adding the camera tells them nothing new.

And that's where the privacy concerns come in.

The vending machine can (even without a camera, just using a proximity detector) tell when people are nearby and NOT buying its wares. With the facial recognition that the camera allows, it will correctly get the identities of some (possibly just a small number) of these "lurkers" and through social media can target them. Maybe like this:

"Hello, this is the vending machine by the bus-stop speaking. I noticed that you walk past every day but don't buy anything from me. So here's a voucher for 10% off, valid for the next week. And if you don't use that .... remember, we know where you live!"

or worse: "we noticed that lady you were with every day last week isn't your wife ... "

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Facebook wants MORE EXPLICIT SHARING

Pete 2
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Re: "hide all future posts from this source"

I guess that's what FB has come up against.

That so many people are hiding or unsubscribing that most of these feeds of trivia end up in /dev/null anyway (although the people posting this drivel: either explicitly or through the apps they use won't have a clue that nobody is reading any of it).

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Google's driverless car: It'll just block our roads. It's the WORST

Pete 2
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Re: I will be the one to say it

> will be under increasing pressure to drive according to actual traffic regulations, and not according to just how they feel like.

I'd rather like the Google Cars to have a "hunt in packs" subroutine. So where they do see someone driving like a complete 'hole, they cluster around the vehicle and force it to slow down, obey the rules and shepherd it towards the local nick. (afterthought: how long until the police request the live feeds from the GC's for evidential purposes?)

Failing that, then whenever the right combination of variously coloured GC's find themselves in close proximity, the white one spontaneously starts playing snooker with the rest of them.

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Pete 2
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Platooooooon - HALT!

> Google’s saying blind and disabled people who can’t drive will be able to call up and use a Google car. This means more vehicles on the road.

Personally I don't see this as a bad thing, if you translate it to mean that more individuals will be able to have some independence and mobility when before they would have none.

Although the 1 second delay at a green light will, almost certainly, lead to more Google cars getting a shunt (though only if they're first at the light) as people *always* move in anticipation of lights turning green - if by no other means of spotting the opposing light turning red. It doesn't necessarily mean more congestion as traffic lights are often as much about breaking up traffic flow which, counter-intuitivly reduces congestion.

One will also assume that a "platoon" of cars won't be permanently bound together and that they will have a protocol to "break ranks" and create smaller groups. One possible reason being if a non-autonomous car cuts into their middle. Though just how well they'll respond to other drivers "gaming them" (like speeding up when a Google car / platoon tries to overtake) and whether they'll solve the other perennial problem of not finding a parking space, are issues we'll have to wait to see what happens.

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100% driverless Wonka-wagon toy cars? Oh Google, you're having a laugh

Pete 2
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Re: Use case

[ Edit: 'pollies. The quote comes from Steve Button's contribution above. Replied to the wrong post ]

> I think it'll happen sooner than YOU think, but perhaps not as soon as Google would like.

The biggest drawback I can see is that these would be Google cars. We should therefore expect that every flat surface within would be bombarding the occupants with advertising for the whole trip.

Not only advertising, but targeted advertising. So every time the car passed a McD's (and there's no guarantee it would take the shortest route: the one that passed the most advertising sponsors would be better - better for them, that is) you would be invited to stop for a Happy Meal. Every time it passed a coffee shop, you'd be notified of a special offer. And if you'd made the near-fatal mistake of handing over a credit card that was attached to an email address that Google knew about, no doubt it would SPAM all your friends and family that you'd passed their house and not stopped to see them.

We might even find that a Black Mirror prediction came true: that inserting earplugs to get away from the cacophony of the advertisements actually increased the fare, as you were no longer abiding by the terms and conditions of the ride. I think I'd prefer to walk ... in the rain.

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Pete 2
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A managable speed

We are frequently told that the average speed of traffic in Central London (as an example - probably the worst example) is only 9 MPH [ source: TfL ]. Now obviously this conceals more than it reveals: there are still a few times of day when you can get 100 yds of clear road and really put your foot down (on the clutch, from 1st gear into second).

But it would seem that these driving conditions would be ideal for a Wonka-mobile. Apart from ferrying various forms of drunk around the city, it would be the ideal means of transporting packages and goods. The lack of a human driver should do wonders for pushing down the cost per hour of freight and you wouldn't have to give this thing a tip (unless you were trying to roll it over) or listen to endless chatter gleaned from that day's Daily Mirror. If it also removes the vastly oversized and frequently nearly empty red buses from London's overcrowded streets: where the cars parked on either side means that in suburban roads it is impossible for them to pass one another, then that would make a Wonka-mobile worth it, on it's own - and might even drive up average speeds to a mind-blowing 10 MPH.

Best of all, it might just put the shoe on the other foot and get Uber drivers complaining about the unfair competition.

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Rich bitch sorority girls actually more likely to put out than low-class 'sluts': Study

Pete 2
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Re: What?

> Really? They had to have a study to conclude this?

Good grief, no.

But if you can persuade someone with more grants to disburse than common sense, it sounds like a very agreeable way to get a further degree.

I look forward to some post-doc research. I would suggest: Beer, Lager, Spirits: a hangover comparison. and The world's best holiday resorts: a 3 year study.

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Pete 2
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The basic flaw in all psych / socio "studies"

ISTM that most "research" carried out on social subjects or the inner workings of the human mind all start with a notice being pinned on a board in an american university. It reads something like:

Test subjects needed. Cash paid

and therefore the whole corpus of research in these subjects comes from studies of 18-21 y/o individuals from one single country, involved in tertiary education, who fancy or need a few extra readies. (Though you'd have to wonder why the "posh girls" got involved.)

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A budget phablet, what a curious thing: Reg puts claws to the Lumia 1320

Pete 2
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Nice but dim

The photos are good, but the biggest problem I have with my phone is the total inability to see the preview screen when outdoors and therefore to frame the shot.

Sure, you can stand there with the phone in one hand and use the other as a sun-shield, hoping you can press the photo button with your thumb whilst neither shaking the camera nor dropping it. Better would be a low tech solution: simply for the camera makers to drill a hole right through the phone's case: front to back that a photographer could peer through, just like "old fashioned" viewfinders. However the ultimate, which I'm still waiting for, would be a screen that combined the non-reflectivity of a black hole with the eyeball-searing brilliance of british sunshine (yeah, I'm kidding) so that you could actually see the image you were about the commit to posterity before you took it - and if the screen then provided DSLR-like data regarding what the sensor was seeing, being able to see that would be nice, too.

So while we still have screens that are too dim and too shiny to see in daylight, I can't see the need to upgrade. However many megapixels a new camera (that makes phone calls, too) can boast about.

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Amazon turns screws on French publisher: Don't feel sorry for Hachette, it's just 'negotiation'

Pete 2
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Power corrupts

... and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Let's face it: in the markets they operate, Amazon reigns supreme. Not merely dominant but in total control of the who, what, where, when and how much. So for a company in that position to say

"a legitimate negotiating tactic"

when the victim of it's negotiating is so powerless brings to mind all the "tactics" used by Standard Oil to suppress competition and maximise profits, at the expense of everyone it dealt with, 100 years ago.

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Fat-fingered admin downs entire Joyent data center

Pete 2
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Re: Jheez, poor bastard. :\

> And the way to see who is a good sysadmin from a bad is if he admits that he screwed up or tries to blame someone else.

Maybe. But the mark of a truly excellent (ahem!) sysadmin is that he / she gets the problem fixed before anyone else notices.

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Pete 2
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Treating the symptoms, not the disease

Unfortunately, this¹ is exactly what most companies do when faced with this sort of issue. They say "oooh, the <command> is far too powerful - let's remove it, or require an operator to get approval from the change board before it's used in future"

Although Joyent have said they are instigating a full investigation, they will find that their system has so many fundamental holes designed in that fixing them all will require not only a total re-write, but a complete redesign of their software and operational practices. A prospect that is likely (considering how poor the whole discipline of system design is) to introduce as many new problems as it fixes.

So ultimately I fully expect the expedient solutions to be applied: an extra layer of checks that will slow down operations and make life for operators even more exasperating (such as an "are you sure" dialog after every command) and will soon become ineffective due to the pressures of getting stuff done (a 10% decrease in operational effectiveness is never paid for with a 10% increase in staff numbers) and management cuts.

[1] yes, satire: I get it

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Pete 2
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Not forgetting ...

that whoever is sitting across the table from you will need a beverage with many of the same properties - but not necessarily beer flavoured ;)

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Pete 2
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Everything that 1960's SciFi "promised" us (and more)

> what tech do you want that industry does not deliver?

Natural language AI (that doesn't need a shopping trolley for the batteries)

Screens that can be viewed in sunlight

Electric vehicles that are as good as petrol for range and speed

Cheap solar power

TVs that "know" what programmes I like and will record them all for me

Room temperature superconductors

Fusion

One remote that controls *everything* (no, not a Logitech Harmony)

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Capacity planning: How to plan ahead and keep your Oracle database healthy

Pete 2
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Yesterdays problem

If you look at such esteemed techniques as ITIL you will see that they provide for a whole host of Capacity Planning processes. As it is with all methodologies that come from government sources (and are recommended by external consultancies), ITIL assumes that your organisation has an infinite amount of IT resources at its disposal. All of whom are flexible, helpful, knowledgeable, do what they're told, always have time for the odd meeting or 10 and accept the findings of others with respect and instant compliance.

However, capacity planning is based on the notion that computing kit is expensive compared to a person's time and that it makes sense to have teams of people poring over RMF reports and trying to squeeze that last MIPS out of the mainframe.

These days, nothing in IT (leaving aside the downtime on a major national retailer or bank - which is usually down to software cockups or hardware failures) is as expensive as the people who run it. Nothing at all. Hence the days when CP could "earn its pay" by forecasting growth, performance, response times, limitations, bottlenecks and when to add that next Gigabyte (yes, 1000 MB) of storage are long gone. At yer average cross-charge rate, slapping in another 1 TB disk is about as expensive as your senior team leader taking an hour for lunch. So when the question arises: should we add more memory, or more disk space, or more processors? then the cheapest solution is to just answer "yes" and get on with it.

Even if you don't need the capacity right that minute, you will do: soon enough. And SSDs have now removed (provided your systems architect has more than John Innes number 3 between the ears) the I-O limitations that used to plague database performance, even a few years ago. Though the inefficiencies of software production will soon use up all the benefits that SSDs, gigabit networks and 256GB of RAM can provide to servers.

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Facebook exec: I HATE the INTERNET and I REALLY hate journalism

Pete 2
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Gets no argument from me

I did once (once!) find myself on Buzzfeed's website - not in a Google searchy sort of way, I just navigated there through ignorance (or was it cat-killing curiosity?). Yik! I felt the need to wash my hands, disinfect my computer and trash my monitor: as they must all have been contaminated by it's awfulness. A feeling I haven't had since I accidentally clicked on a Daily Mail link.

However the question of "who is to blame" is harder to answer. In the first instance, a lot of blame must fall on the editorial staff and their willingness to commission and publish the stuff they do. But, looking deeper, they wouldn't be on that Road to Hell if there weren't people willing to read it, or at least get caught by the clickbait-counters that determine the advertising revenue that will accrue.

One would hope that these things are merely an aberration of a still-experimental internet, and inexperienced users who haven't yet worked out what it is that they want from the web. Whether that will turn out to be the case, or if this is the sort of stuff that's here to stay and will grow (like Japanese Knotweed) is difficult to say. Luckily it is easily avoided and here at least: once bitten, twice shy.

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Spotify boasts 10 million paying subscribers ... Um, is that all?

Pete 2
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Re: Happy to pay

> Worse than the freetard is the insultingly-low-offer-tard...

It makes no difference. As they have no intention of honouring "Unlimited", whatever the price their subscribers pay.

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Pete 2
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Happy to pay

> a fiver for the Unlimited package

provided it is actually unlimited.

I.e. no limitations

which means:

no volume constraints

no time limit

no speed cap (but since my internet speed *is* capped we'd have to work something out.)

no later changes to the Ts & Cs

In fact, for that, I'd even be willing to go up to £6. No, not per month. Six QUID. period.

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BT and Neul ink gov-funded deal: Milton Keynes to be test bed for Internet of Stuff

Pete 2
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> Always best to find the solution before defining the problem.

And there lies the path to corporate success. Just like it's always best to define the target after you take the shot.

(errr, yeah, that's what I was aiming at!)

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Pete 2
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A rubbish network

> networked bins which signal when they need collecting

Not that anyone will take any notice: "Oooh, look. The bin at number 23 is full. Quick! send a rubbish truck round immediately to empty it."

Since councils ignored all their residents when they unilaterally decided to empty bins every 2 weeks (whether they stank or not), rather than every week, the chances of them using this technology to improve the service is as likely as the urban foxes these over-full bins / bags / boxes [ delete according to which dumb scheme your council randomly selected ] attract taking the rubbish to the tip, themselves.

Much more likely is the oft-suggested scheme of charging people (a second time: on top of the council tax already paid to empty the bins) according to the quantity of refuse.

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China to become world's No 1 economy. And we still can't see why

Pete 2
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Come a rainy day

> It would seem the majority of Chinese save 50% of their income (IMF 2010).

> I don't see that in the West.

From what I have read, the reason people in other countries save large proportions of their pay is not due to sound, prudent, financial disciplne. It's due to the lack of a welfare state. If you fall ill, get pregnant and/or become old and infirm and need some expensive healthcare, there is no NHS to heal you for free - you'd better have the readies errr, ready. Same with retirement: pension? Nope. Same with losing your job: no dole until you find another one - you either live off your savings, sponge off your relatives or stand on the street corner with your hand outstretched.

So all that money that citizens of some countries save is merely the flip side of paying less tax for a state-supplied safety net. It's necessary, rather than wise and anyway: savings are simply deferred inflation. So when all that cash does get spent, as people age and leave work - look out for large price rises in their economies.

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Pete 2
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Re: Delusions and Dreams. An Economic Know-Nothings in the FT

> Why China will implode

It's worth noting that the guy who wrote this (an amercian ex-politician from the Regan era) was a key official in raising the US debt from under $100 Mil. to over $2 Tn in the space of 5 years. So I guess he knows something about huge government debt.

Nowadays, he spends his time writing this sort of (IMHO) shrill, puff-pieces for right-wing publications in the US.

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Pete 2
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It's a numbers game

> we're no closer to understanding why China is doing so well

A quick count will give you the answer. Pretty dam' close¹ to 1.4 BEEEEELION people, and up by 36 MEEEEELION in the past year.

Compared to the USA's 320 Mil who are pricing themselves out of world markets.

Better start picketing for schools to dump teaching French in favour of Putonghua (and Hindi, if you want them to be truly multi-lingual) if your kids are to make anything of themselves in the next 50 years.

[1] http://www.worldpopulationstatistics.com/population-of-china-2014/

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Web firms, DON'T PANIC: The Euro Google 'right to be forgotten' isn't a problem

Pete 2
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Re: Just needs one test case

> So if BBC news says your a paedophile ... then it's just hearsay and is inadmissible

I really hope so - as I'm not (and never have been) - though it would make a lawyer very rich, if it did. Plus, I don't believe there has ever been a situation where something reported by any news media has ever been presented as evidence. It's obviously not - and places that decide guilt or innocence require much higher standards than "I read it in the Daily Mail" [link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI ] and will only ever refer back to the primary source as an acceptable account of events or facts.

So yes: anything that is on the web should be treated as suspect, as its source is second-hand (hence: hearsay, not from a primary witness or victim) and we know that people post the most exaggerated accounts, can have their websites hacked and often get stuff wrong and repeat things that are either incorrect, out of date or simply illegal.

The problem would be that there are many ways around "reporting", such as reporting that <someone else> said the things we wish to promulgate or crediting it to "a reliable source" and then claiming press immunity.

But the principle stands: there is so much misinformation, so many lies, factual errors, misunderstandings and misreportings on the web that it would be good to have its legal status downgraded to something akin to inadmissible.

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Pete 2
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Just needs one test case

If only we could get a legal precedent that classifies everything on the internet (whether search results, web content, forum chatter or social media in its entirety) as being "hearsay" and therefore inadmissable, wouldn't that solve a lot of the problems of companies and individuals taking action merely on the basis of stuff they find on the web.

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350 DBAs stare blankly when reminded super-users can pinch data

Pete 2
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Re: Rouge DBA...

Is that one who makes-up after going rogue?

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Pete 2
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What IS surprising ...

> The report says staff can cause more damage to organisations than external attackers.

... is how little abuse there is.

Given that any sysadmin worth his / her / its salt can do pretty much anything and not be detected, or that they can hack the detection to cover their tracks, why is there so little advantage taken of this ultimate power?

Apart from the oh-so-boring opportunities to sell state secrets to the baddies (or to give them away to the good guys, depending where you work), almost all the naughtiness we experience is some twerp somewhere selling lists of email addresses for the price of a beer.

Where's the wholesale reading of the CEO's email to warn of future restructuring

Where's the "checking" of the finance department's databases for insider trading gains?

Where's the planting of nasty pictures on the boss's computer to get the promotion when they are arrested and jailed?

How come so few disaffected fire-ees don't "take out" that one single, critical machine when they are let go?

Surely someone must have considered adjusting their HR file to improve their company image?

I don't believe that every instance of IT badness gets discovered, fixed and the perpetrator then gets kicked out without a fight. Apart from anything else, some industries are legally obliged to report incidents of fraud. So are we really such an honest lot, that everyone plays nicely. Are we all so afraid of being caught, that even thinking of stepping out of line makes us break out in a sweat. Are we all so good at doing these things that none are ever caught and sanctioned.

I find all of those possibilities equally implausible. So the only alternative (almost as unlikely) is that we're all quite happy with our lot and don't seek additional gain, promotion, revenge or professional advantage. That would surely make IT the most honest group of professionals in the world.

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