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* Posts by Pete 2

2371 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

MtGox boss vows to keep going despite $429 MILLION Bitcoin 'theft'

Pete 2
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Consider themselves lucky

> $429 MILLION Bitcoin 'theft'

... that BTC value has dropped from its kilobuck+ highs. Otherwise the losses would have been much bigger. Errrrm, hang on .... does it work like that?

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HP: We're so down wid da kidz! Look at... er, Smithers, what DO yoof look at these days?

Pete 2
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Hitting the bottle

> What do you think about when you hear the name HP?

Sauce!

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Dropbox erects sueball shield with new T&C and privacy legalese

Pete 2
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Divide and conquer

When Standard Oil was crushing everything and everyone who stood in its way, it was originally thought of as "good" for the consumer. S.O. lowered prices for users and made LOADSAMONEY for its investors.

The commercial terms it drew up for anyone it dealt with tended to be by diktat (take it or leave it - BTW, if you leave it, forget about doing business with anyone else) and rather one-sided in setting out who got the benefits.

It was only when things got so extreme that the US government stepped in and broke the outfit into smaller pieces.

We can see parallels with the Ts & Cs that a lot of the larger internet players are forcing on their customers. A lot of them are so big that, in practice, there is little in the way of alternative suppliers. They are also so big that their legal beagles can effectively call the shots unless and until a complaint gets appealed to state level (by which time the complainant has probably run out of money, anyway).

I suppose in a capitalist state (the Internet, not just the US), this sort of behaviour is inevitable. After all, there are no laws in virtual-land and business is very one-sided. It's just so sad that after S.O. and it's many copy-cats (e.g. IBM, Microsoft) that such situations are still permitted to develop. Even though we can all see, in hindsight, that they are bad ideas™.

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Climate change will 'CAUSE huge increase in MURDER, ROBBERY and RAPE'

Pete 2
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Re: Time to get the calculator out

> What happened to "burgled"?

or the less contentious "robbed"?

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Pete 2
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Time to get the calculator out

> Between 2010 and 2099, [ a period of 90 years ] climate change will cause an additional ...1.3 million burglaries

And we are told¹ there are 2.2 million burglaries in the USA every year. So climate change will account for an extra 1,300,000 / 90 = 14,400 more per year or a rise of about 0.6%.

First thing: pardon me if I don't get too concerned about this

Second thing: this guy quotes his "results" to 2 significant figures: 1.3million, 22,000 etc. That alone tells me he is quantifying far beyond the accuracy that crime forecasting OR climatology is good for. Whether that is down to cluelessness, an economist's traditional sense of humour, or that he thinks it adds credibility - I couldn't say. But none of those possibilities are true (except maybe the "in joke" about the significant digits).

[1] ref: prweb.com "every 14.4 seconds, a home in the U.S. has been burglarized"

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Dixons Retail and Carphone Warehouse mull merger

Pete 2
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Time for a name change

If they do merge, hopefully the product of their combined marketing talent will be able to come up with a better name.

When was the last time anyone bought a Car phone?

and, more to the point, I've never been able to get a Chicken Madras in Curry's, either.

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Yes! New company smartphones! ... But I don't WANT one

Pete 2
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Smart, but useless

> from the standpoint of a business owner and end-user ... use for hours every day.

How is that possible?

I have a Samsung smart-something or other and it's screen is far too small to use for anything but the most trivial tasks. Certainly nothing of the complexity or intensity that would qualify as "work". Typing on it is a nightmare - keys are far too small and at best you can do one-fingered "pecking" with continual interruptions for SHIFT and SYM functions. Plus, the amount of information you can display on the screen at a readable font-size is miniscule. And in daylight, is zero due to its shiny unreadability.

I can understand how a user might spend hours every day using one, but personally I'd prefer a system with a big screen and normal sized (and featured) keyboard/mouse that gives me the productivity to achieve the same amount in a few minutes.

I would suggest that instead of "stove-piping" and looking at (smart)phones as a single item, and making a selection purely on the basis of their cost/features/lifetime/sexiness, you take a step back and see how to improve the working environment of your employees, as a complete integrated approach. And where a phone - smart or otherwise, would fit into that strategy.

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Retiring greybeards force firms to retrain Java, .NET bods as mainframe sysadmins

Pete 2
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Re: Spaces significant??

> in Fortran the only place spaces are significant is in strings

Tenses.

That may well be the case now, but I made a point of saying 1960s FORTRAN. In the case of F4 (from personal memory) the first 6 columns were reserved for label numbers and if column 1 contained a "C" that line was deemed a comment.

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Pete 2
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> how to make COBOL and attractive option for recent graduates

Rename it to object.Cobol and start writing games in it.

We already have a trendy language (Python) that is following the 1960's FORTRAN mistake convention of making whitespace significant. Sexing up COBOL shouldn't be too difficult,

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Pete 2
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in a free market there's no such thing as a skills shortage

> CIOs are growing concerned about the looming skills shortage in their mainframe rooms

Merely an unwillingness to pay the salaries that supply and demand indicates as the going rate.

Having said that, there does come a time when the cost of employing specialists becomes greater than the cost of "de-specialising" and replacing the niche kit with more generic solutions that the new generation of cheap, trained and plentiful staff have the knowledge to support.

Knowing when that time is and planning for the eventuality is one of the basic jobs of senior IT management. However, when the CIOs and their direct reports keep their heads in the sand, spend all their time focused on the immediate and not the strategic, this is the inevitable consequence. That's just the cost of being out of touch with market trends.

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Toshiba Encore: The Windows 8.1 tablet that might catch on

Pete 2
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A word of advice to tablet makers

Screen size and price.

When Joe Public goes tabby shopping, those are the only two factors he/she/it cares about.

Screen size and price. That's all.

Android? Windows? It matters not.

Microsoft? Google? matters even less.

Technical stuff? it's just noise.

It's a given that any tablet will play vids, music, stream TV, have a camera or two, play any of the top games, access FB Twitter and all that malarky - oh: and browse stuff. Users won't even check those and if the tablet can't do it - back to the shop it goes.

Screen size and price.

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South Korea green lights Stuxnet-like code weapons to nark NORKS

Pete 2
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Praying for the day

> Stuxnet-like code weapons to nark NORKS

... when a trinket worn by NK's anti-drug police causes inflammation below their chins. Leading to the headline:

Nick nack narks NORK'S narcs' necks

we can only hope.

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Boffins: You'll see, TWITTERNET! We'll get the TRUTH out of you...

Pete 2
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A rule of thumb

> But it’s currently not possible to automatically analyse, in real time, whether a piece of information is true or false

Broadly speaking, it's a pretty good guess that if a piece of "information" appears on a social networking site, it's probably bollocks false.

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Google warns Glass wearers: Quit being 'CREEPY GLASSHOLES'

Pete 2
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A small window

By offering these "suggestions", Google is obviously aware of the image these devices have - and the poor reaction that ordinary (or normal; you choose) people have to being confronted by them.

So I would expect Google will go down one of two routes: either quietly kill the device and learn not to be so socially clumsy, or develop the Mk 2 that will be a lot more ... discrete. The basic problem will still be the same: that people who realise they are being spied on will be annoyed, but a more concealed device will make it harder to know when this is.

It could simply be that us "normals" will stop worrying when a Mk2 Glass is in our presence, as it won't be at all obvious - or it could be that our outrage at being covertly monitored turns against the supplier, rather than the individual performing the unsociable act.

Either way, if this device is to be stopped, now would appear to be the time to apply pressure: while the supplier is still sensitive to public reaction.

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Birds Eye releases 'mashtags' social spud snacks

Pete 2
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Today's menu

Should go well with some P-code and #deadbeef. Maybe followed by tea (or java) and cake (Raspberry Pi was too obvious)

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Tired of arguing with suits? Get ready to argue with engineers!

Pete 2
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If it ain't broken ...

> the suppliers of heavy equipment sell sealed-box products that are sold as just working.

And if only more IT kit was like that.

The most reliable kit in most datacentres is that insignificant little box in the corner that runs a dedicated application on top of NT, or Solaris 6. Nobody knows how it works, they just know that the supplier "deals with it" and won't allow anyone else to log in, upgrade the hardware, touch any of its cables or sometimes even reboot it. It has been there since Y2k (or beyond) and just works.

The secret to these boxes is that they are dedicated: they do one thing only, have zero flexibility and no scope for alterations or customsation. But when they are properly designed, from a sensible specification that was implemented by capable people and neither over-sold nor prematurely released (before testing AND bug fixing had been completed) then they are world-beaters. No Patch Tuesdays for them!

However, we IT people aren't used to systems that are stable. We assume that everything arrives broken and that it's 3-5 year lifespan will be spent working around its shortcomings and trying (often: failing) getting it to meet the specification that was originally written on the brochure that the CIO saw, read and bought. The best we can hope for is that these "heavy equipment" manufacturers place as much store in the reputation of their software products as they do in their hardware, and also that they are steadfast in their demands that unqualified IT people don't go anywhere near it.

The difficulty is that to get rock-steady systems, you will never be talking about being at the leading-edge. Instead of implementing the latest and greatest stuff that comes out of a 6 month-old startup (soon to be a 7 month-old foldup or sell-out), the secret will be to not even look at tech that isn't a few years old, has got some thousands (or for the IoT: millions) of units delivered and working and to never, ever make any changes to the thing's external networking environment once it's been installed.

If that means we're going to have to start getting things right at the first attempt and then not changing them, so be it. it can be done - just ask the makers of all those little boxes in the corner.

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Reports pump fuel into iCar gossip: Apple in 'talks' with Tesla

Pete 2
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Recharge

I don't know about an iCar, but I do like the idea of coupling a phone to a Tesla's 85kWHr battery and having a device that you only need to charge once a year (or, come to that: run your house for a week). Though you might need a shopping trolley to haul it around in - just so long as it doesn't catch fire.

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Google slurps sound-powered security upstart SlickLogin

Pete 2
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Typo?

shouldn't that read: The tech is said to simplify be "overly complicated and annoying"

Given that it requires a PC with speakers and the sound enabled (surely the very first thing users in offices do is rip out the speakers and/or disable all sounds). Plus a smartphone with it's microphone available to hear this (and presumably everything else that is within hearing distance - a built in bug? how marvelous) and without the sound being muffled by, say, a trouser/jacket pocket or handbag and the environment being sufficiently noise-free.

I would expect that this technology is neither disability-friendly, universally applicable nor 100% reliable. So all systems where is is used will have to have passwords as a fallback (sorreeeee, I can't log in until my phone has recharged ... ooops, I can't use this app as I'm on the phone, whoops: I appear to have left my phone at home/in the car/on the bus). Added to which is the faff of having to dig out your phone every time you want to log in. So it will hardly ever be a person's first choice of authentication and will therefore very quickly be sidelined and then ignored.

Hopefully Google bought the company as a public service and will now bury it to reduce the number of annoyances foisted on us in the name of technology.

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New password system lets planet Earth do the hard work

Pete 2
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I already have a geographically based password system

I know where my passwords are written down.

Seriously, most websites that ask for passwords don't need them - or only need trivial examples as what they "protect" is, to all intents and purposes, worthless. For these sites: the overwhelming majority of sites, keeping the same passwords for all of them and never changing it is perfectly reasonable. Provided websites continue to allow anonymity: i.e. anyone can set up an account using any old "nickname" that hasn't already been used, there isn't even any reputational damage if a bad person does hijack your account.

There are some sites: banks, any website that you make payments to/from, HMRC, places where you expose contact information to people you know (since you owe them a duty of care) where it is wise to keep passwords under wraps - and not use the same one that you would on snailracers.com snail fanciers forum. However, for those a solid password is at least as good as trying to remember a location (who would NOT choose the location of their house, or the bank branch in question?) and is easier to record, if you have a geographically based password system like mine.

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SCRAP the TELLY TAX? Ancient BBC Time Lords mull Beeb's future

Pete 2
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Re: Very interesting discussion

> the BBC has the greatest wildlife and science documentaries in the world by several light-years. ...

> I would be out on the street with Molotov cocktails if they attempted to take one penny away from these

Better get the firebombs ready then. Their latest financial statement (for 2012/2013) shows that BBC2 had it's funding cut by £6M (that's a lot of "one penny"'s) compared to the previous year and BBC4 suffered a £2½M cut. BBC1 on the other hand (not known for its documentaries: science, wildlife or otherwise) gained over £120 Mil. Even though the corporation as a whole received £50M less than the previous year.

It would appear that Strictly (that is a BBC show, isn't it?) is where the funding is going and "serious" programmes are being cut to pay for it.

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Pete 2
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Re: Unfair Tax? If it walks like a duck ..

> The BBC License Fee is not a tax. The clue's in the name.

It's a tax. Merely changing the name fools nobody (well, almost nobody - just ask the people who live near Windscale Sellafield). As for the wiki-gasm about the BBC's legal status? Well, nobody cares about that distinction, either.

As for why the tax is unfair, it's a shame you never managed to read past my second sentence or you would have seen the reason why that is.

So you don't have a TV - that's nice, if irrelevant. Some people choose to go without carbs, or meat, or clothes¹ too.. Does that mean they are "luxury" items? No of course it doesn't. So far as having a TV is concerned for a lot of the lowest paid workers, and those who don't/won't/can't work a TV is a necessity. If you have children there is nothing comparable to keep them occupied. The same can be said for adults, too, especially the housebound - if you can't afford other ways of occupying your "leisure" time, then a TV is vital. That's one reason why you find TVs in all parts of the world from Manhattan to Somalia. People are willing to forgo better food in order to have some source information and a way to add a little "sunshine" into their lives.

[1] The naked rambler.

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Pete 2
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Re: Unfair Tax?

The BBC tax is unfair (technically: regressive). The reason being that everyone pays the same amount, irrespective of their ability to pay. The modern trend with taxation is for the rich to pay more than the poor. Sure, there are some subsidies available with the BBC licence fee, such as a 50% reduction for the blind, but otherwise if you're on the minimum wage you pay the same licence fee as if you earn a million a year.

As far as hypothecation goes (tax paid to finance a specific thing), yes it is - and that level of transparency is good.

However, once the money gets given to the BBC, all transparency is lost. Who decides whether "our (TV) taxes" should be spent on a new costume drama, or adding stuff to their website, sending hundreds of staff on a foreign "jolly" to cover an event, or pissed against the wall on a digitisation plan that was totally mismanaged? The public pay billions every year for all these things, but the democratic process fails completely in giving us any say on where "our" money gets spent, or who gets to spend it.

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Pete 2
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Re: Just a News Operation

> leave the cooking shows and talent shows to the private sector.

Best idea in a long time.

The basic problem the independent channels have is the failure to attract an audience. Why is this? becaase every soddin' 20 minutes they interrupt the programmes and try to sell us anti-aging cream, no-win-no-fee lawyering and shampoo.

The idea

If ITV et. al. could run uninterrupted programmes of the same quality as the Beeb's they would attract far more viewers. But they can't, because all the TV tax money goes to one, single, dominant, broadcaster - which uses that dosh to show exactly the same sort of popular programmes that the independent channels rely on, could easily make and would earn them the income to make "quality" telly. if only the BBC weren't giving it all away for free and undermining their potential cash-cows.

Sure: for the viewers it's great (if you like that sort of thing). But it doesn't increase choice - not when all the channels are screening wall-to-wall soaps, celebs, chat, reality and quizzes: 'cos that's what the people want - innit.

The solution

If the trash "popular" programmes were left to the independents to make money from, the BBC could go back to its original charter: entertain, educate and inform. On the basis that you wouldn't need 9 channels of TV to do this (which spend over half their time screening repeats - just to fill the time), the bandwidth they have but don't use could be rented out to other broadcasters (or mobile phone, or some other revenue generator) and that cash used to finance the content they make. If we were also to retain a licence fee, it could then be used to remove or greatly reduce the need for adverts on the commercial channels - thus making them more attractive to viewers (provided they produced programmes people wanted to watch) and as an added bonus, the reduction in advertising "space" might even result in us buying less unneccesary crap and trying to sue the arse of someone everytime we slip over in the street.

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Your personal data is worth a measly eight bucks a month

Pete 2
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A hack waiting to happen

So what this really does is to monetise the data that hackers already go phishing for.

Now, instead of them selling lists of names, cards and personal data to some nefarious individual or group, for pennies, they'll approach this outfit instead - and get many times the moolah for the same information.

There's a scary thought that this is just a front for someone's government surveillance scheme - in an attempt to legalise their snooping "Look! they GAVE us the data and we're paying for it - it's not spying anymore (and it costs a dam' sight less, too).

There's an even more scary thought that by upping the rate paid for personal data, all this outfit is doing is increasing the demand for it - and therefore attracting more hackers to try and pry it off you.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Pete 2, but you're already selling us ALL your personal data. What do you mean, you didn't know that?"

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Object to #YearOfCode? You're a misogynist and a snob, says the BBC

Pete 2
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Re: We don't have anyone competent to do that

> writing laws is really a form of computation, so we should make it more like a software project.

The two other differences being that the CPU doesn't get to interpret the laws code it's told to execute - it just gets on and does what the code says: whether it's sensible or not - and that doesn't change subtly over time (yes: I do know about software rot). So at least there's the possibility of getting the result you intended - provided you code it properly - rather than what the CPU (or judiciary) thinks it should be.

The other difference is that there isn't an entire other CPU, with vastly more incentive, power and time that is dedicated to finding reasons why your code shouldn't be executed, or how it could be bent, warped and subverted to do its own bidding. Although one could argue that is exactly what the Intel architecture does.

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Pete 2
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You missed one

From RCJ's article

> There is a minority of older experienced programmers ...

So not only is this guy accusing people of snobbishness and misogyny, but there's a whiff of ageism in there, too.

However, since this guy works for the People''s Democratic Republic of the BBC, he knows that everything he writes will be scrutinised by the PC brigade - either within the organisation, or without - and duly held against him when his next contract renewal comes up. On on that basis you can't really blame him for being so right-on - his strings are being pulled in ways we could never imagine.

However, back on topic. Teaching people coding is like trying to teach speaking. It denies the existence of all the different languages out there and assumes that so long as you can make some noises, the job's done. In practice, it's barely started.

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IT'S ALIVE! China's Jade Rabbit rover RETURNS from the DEAD

Pete 2
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Standard Ts & Cs

> it's still troubled by that pesky "mechanical control abnormality"

I'm sure that if the chinese pay the postage, the suppliers will replace it for free.

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Scotland to test mobe signals slammer jammer

Pete 2
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Listen in

> prison staff to interfere with the wireless signal in their jails

Surely a better solution would be to either eavesdrop on the calls or to trace the numbers being called?

That way the authorities could get a handle on any crimes that were being planned or committed via phone and maybe haul in the inmates' outside contacts, too?

It may be that the prison personnel don't even need to listen in (or trace the phone numbers) if they can credibly "sell" the story that they are doing that?

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It's a scientific FACT: Online comment trolls are SADISTS

Pete 2
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Re: Can you say "sample bias"?

I understand your position. As with most things in life, there is no "black or white" answer, but a range to responses all along the line. At the one end we might have gentle teasing (or humour that the recipient simply did not understand and misinterpreted). At the other we have out-and-out hate and loathing. Somewhere in the middle we have the sort of activity seen in some children who haven't been taught to behave: simple meanness.

Depending on the reaction of the people who see a post, they could classify it as trolling - or not. Jjust as some people are too easily offended by racial comments, bare skin, irreligious remarks or "bad" language, whereas others are more tolerant and easy-going and would let it pass.

So for the study to say Trolling == sadism fails in both its definition of what trolling actually is (no objective test) and in the graduation of behaviours and their underlying causes. Some trolling may be due to sadism, for sure. However the study, as reported, is a blunt instrument and without any means of quantifying or identifying cause or effect (or even false answers) has little to offer - except, as you say, in stating the self-evident.

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Pete 2
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Re: Can you say "sample bias"?

Indeed.

> The participants ... 5.6 per cent said that trolling was their favorite

I don't think the surveyors realised they had been trolled by those responses.

As it is, they had a mere 418 participants, of whom a trifling 5.6% or 23.4 individuals (point 4 - huh???). So they based their whole conclusion on the unverified responses of less than two dozen people in a highly specialised group in one particular country.

The online summary does not reveal if the test had other "telltales" embedded in their questionnaire for different traits. Without knowing that, it's impossible to say if the test was intended to look for this particular trait. That in itself is enough to cast doubt on the conclusions they drew. It would be interesting to know if they tested for different traits or conditions (e.g. drunkenness), whether they found any sorts of correlations with those, too.

File under: worthless.

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Boffin talks WATER on MARS: Granted, no 'smoking gun', but all clues flow there...

Pete 2
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Dark water?

> the strongest indication of possible liquid water on the planet, but it's proving difficult to come up with conclusive proof.

Isn't "dark" the usual, cosmological, prefix for tagging a phenomenon that the boffins think should exist, but can't quite find?

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EU network tech boss: Europe to take the lead on 5G (thanks, Huawei)

Pete 2
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Build a Better Botnet

> Kleiner predicts 100 billion objects being connected through 5G.

and

> the ultra-low-power devices hooked up to the "Internet of Things" would need 10Gb/s

So that the combined power of all these little devices can be focused on denial-of-service attacks at extremely high packet rates.

As no matter how advanced your technology, a swarm of locusts will always beat you.

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'No, I CAN'T write code myself,' admits woman in charge of teaching our kids to code

Pete 2
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Re: I hate to say it...

> Coders are the new factory workers

I have mixed feelings about this initiative.

On the one hand I welcome anything that adds to the technical content of the school curriculum (i.e. has a relevance to the modern, technical, world). On the other I can see this programme as a transparent ploy to grab some headlines without having any sort of measurable benefit.

As far as "factory workers" are concerned, I am not so sure. These children won't have any tangible skill at the end of this, but they will have gained a minuscule amount of familiarity with a small subset of buzzwords used today. While that knowledge will almost certainly be obsolete by the time they leave school, that amount of jargon will set them up nicely to fill management roles - but not to do anything meaningful or creative. If it also conveys the view that "coding" is a difficult process and that the real talent is the analytical process required before any "code" is written, then it might, just, have some worth.

But that's all we should expect or hope for from any educational scheme like this.

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Virtual insanity: Half a dozen startups throw six tricks in the mix

Pete 2
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Ready, steady, startup

Looking at these companies, with Veeam reporting "24 consecutive quarters .... " then it's been going at least 6 years. Pure Storage was started in 2009 - so it has 4+ years under its belt

Are these really "startups" or should they now be considered fully-fledged businesses?

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Jean Michel Jarre: Je voudrais un MUSIC TAX sur VOTRE MOBE

Pete 2
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What's french for "cobblers"?

> Without the ability to play music, Jarre argued, the gadget wouldn't be worth as much as it currently is.

I'm on my third smartphone, now. I can safely say that the hassle of carrying around a pair of earbuds, spending time disentangling them any time I want to use them and then squinting at a sunlit screen to try to see what music is on the device long-ago became a chore. I haven't felt the need to have every moment filled with "entertainment" for decades and therefore can say that the musical abilities of a smart (or dumb) phone mean nothing to me.

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fWHoaR! Trick-cyclists crack eternal mystery of WHAT WOMEN WANT in a man

Pete 2
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One in the eye for feminism

> Male speed-daters with higher fWHR, ... more dominant. Women not only expressed more interest in short-term relationships with these men ...

The conclusion from that one, single, piece of research makes it sound as if women want to be dominated - or at least: spend time in the presence of dominant men. If there really is anything in this line of research (like people used to think about phrenology?), one must wonder what that says about equality and emancipation.

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Save Ofcom! Telcos and consumer groups call for end to legal disputes

Pete 2
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Re: A stitch in time

> I've seen it mentioned several times that the private sector has deeper pockets for legal costs than the public sector.

Yes, that's my understanding, too. A corollary being that they can afford to employ better (and more) legal counsel.

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Pete 2
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A stitch in time

> Ofcom has nearly every new regulation challenged, often on legal technicalities

Doesn't that just mean that Ofcom employs crap lawyers - who don't know how to draft regulations that are actually legal?

Instead of Ofcom bleating about the naughty telcos who spot the holes, which they should have spotted earlier and then use those flaws to delay the introduction of new rules that would benefit the public to the telcos' detriment (I bet they don't challenge anything that is good for them), why not actually get someone competent to look over the proposed rules before they are enacted?

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Boffin dreams up smart battery gizmo for Raspberry Pi fiddlers

Pete 2
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If a battery fails when there is no-one to see it ...

> a pair of LEDs to give a visual indication

That would be a visual indication to whom, exactly?

I'm a great fan of flashing lights on computer boards (the microprocessor equivalent of Hello World) and I recognise that in the world of Pi, they are a massive sales feature. But you have to ask: if a board is going to be run off batteries, possibly even built into an enclosure, what is the point of some LEDs - once you've debuggered everything? Given their power consumption, it would be nice if they could be pulled off the board, or just given the SNIP.

If the developer is looking for some extra features, if the on-Pi thingy doesn't already do this, I'd suggest having an ADC measuring the state of charge and use that to talk to a serial: RS232, SPI or I2C interface (as the Pi doesn't have any analog capability of its own) to inform the board what is going on. In fact, breaking out a few 10-12 bit analog inputs and having them interface to the Pi would make this a winner: even without all the battery stuff.

As it is, there are already other (yes folks: there are other single board computers) SBCs that can directly plug in a LiPo without the need for an extra board. Some are even open-source hardware.

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Apple seeks patent for mood-sensing technology

Pete 2
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No need

For Apple, mood sensing is pretty easy.

When you first buy the product: Joy

When you first try to use it: Confusion

When you show it to all your friends: Pride

When you get the first monthly bill: Horror

When it breaks: Depression

When you try to get it fixed: Annoyance

When the next version comes out, 6 months after you bought the "latest": Anger

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Why IBM's server sell-off is a lightbulb moment

Pete 2
Silver badge

Avoid the commodity

> Does IBM know something we don’t about the future of low-end x86 servers

In the early 90's I worked for IBM. Even then, the view was that they weren't a hardware company, but knew that the "future" was in services. They also knew that the profitable work was at the leading edge, not in the box-shifting, mass-market.

What IBM is good at (and their longevity, albeit with many up's and down's does support their view) is innovating, productising and doing stuff that other companies can't / won't or aren't big enough to. So in that case it's no surprise that businesses they nurtured and grew into successes will get sold off: its their pattern.

As for datacentres and energy. The solution is simple. Once it becomes too expensive for cloud operators to power & cool their datacentres, they'll simply stop doing it. Whether they close down gracefully or just switch off the lights and walk away, one day, will be interesting. However companies that use these services need to always remember that nothing in cloud cuckoo land is under their control and that this will be their biggest vulnerability.

However, with datacentres using as much power as a aluminium smelter, once electricity becomes too expensive for cloud computing, it will also be too expensive for other essentials. That will have a more far-reaching effect on individuals' lives than where the popups get served from.

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Tell us we're all doomed, MPs beg climate scientists

Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: A rule of thumb

> This is about how many squabbling there is:

That's a nice chart. It tells us that almost no-one refutes man-made climate change. And I believe it. However the squabbling is not about the fact, but what all those clever people say is:

a) the degree of any problem that MMCC brings

b) the seriousness of it

c) the probability that any given outcome will will come to pass - and when that will be

d) the degree to which I can affect the outcome

e) what lengths (and by lengths, I mean inconvenience) I should be prepared to go to, to affect that outcome

So merely for lots of PhDs to say "yes, mankind is warming the planet" is like people saying "yes, I believe in gravity". It's a recognition of a phenomenon, (possibly even: truth by acclamation) but it's unhelpful in making any judgments about the effect, it's affect, the implications of it and whether I, personally, need to do anything about it. That's what all of us, who don't make a living arguing about it, need to know. So far the range of "solutions" ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous and the rate at which new doom and forebodings, extreme suggestions and changes-of-opinion come along does nothing to increase the credibility of the field, as a whole.

Once that all comes to a consensus, then there will a reason to address the issue. Hopefully it won't take all the squabbling scientists so long to sort themselves out that it'll all be far too late to do anything.

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Pete 2
Silver badge

Re: Oh that reminds me...

I think that from a politicians PoV, advice from "experts" is a win-win. If it turns out to be correct information, the politicos will say "yes, we're so enlightened and responsible (and humble) that we recognised the superior knowledge of *our* scientists and due to our expert leadership and vision, everything worked out for the best". If it turns out to be wrong, the reply will be "we listened to these people and felt forced to accept what they told us. However, the fault for the consequences does not lie with us, but with the bad advice we received. We are actively reviewing the situation and learning lessons from it."

So, either way, the people who knew nothing manage to come out clean and shiny.

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Pete 2
Silver badge

A rule of thumb

Whether the climate scientists obey the tenets of scientific rigour (objective results, reproducibility, modelling-prediction-observation-refinement) I cannot say: although the amount of sqabbling would suggest there is some doubt.

However, any field that has the word "science" in its title gives me the distinct impression that it adheres to the principle of "truth by acclamation". I.e. say something enough times and it will become the accepted doctrine. That alone is enough for me to group it with all the other subjects that include the word "science" in their title.

More than that, I cannot tell at this point.

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Boffins demo re-usable paper and waterjet printers

Pete 2
Silver badge

Drop in the ocean

> use of water instead of ink in the printer makes it much cheaper overall

Though you just *know* that the printer makers will find a way to screw the price to levels beyond the dreams of avarice - and that you'll only be allowed to use their "special" water, in their proprietary cartridges for the whole thing to work.

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The other end of the telescope: Intel’s Galileo developer board

Pete 2
Silver badge

Get out the stuffing

... we have a new turkey.

Seriously, an Arduino contender? A rival to the Pi?

Maybe in the minds of the marketing people, but in real-life situations it's seriously lacking in either camp.

It's far too big for use in most Arduino applications. It's power consumption is massive and it's far too complex (if you need all those peripherals: ethernet, micro-SD and what looks like an extremely dodgy sheild interface) then you really shouldn't be trying to do it with an Arduino. Even worse: put having a Linux layer underneath, the board can't even be applied to real-time applications: where you *know* to the microsecond how long a loop will take to execute - and that your I/O will take place now rather than at some point within the next 2mSec.

And compared to a $4 Atmega328, it's not even talking the same language.

As an O/S based solution for grown-up problems, well it has shortcomings there, too. Even the price is above what people expect to pay for a Pi or the more capable BeagleBone - or a $30 Olimex Lime. All of which have more than enough non-volatile memory and maybe even a SATA connector to a SSD for all but the most bloated applications.

If this had come out 5 years ago, it would have taken the embedded world by storm rain-shower. However, the leading edge is moving apace and in 2014 it looks overpriced, under-spec'd, lacking in features and without the "killer-apps" of a widespread user base of code, libraries and contributed examples to get stuff developed quickly.

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BBC Trust: 'LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING' to this DMI mega-tech FAIL

Pete 2
Silver badge

Easy come, easy go

> the project was formally cancelled last year at a cost to licence-fee payers of £100m - with nothing to show for it.

And when you get all your budget dropped into your lap, without even having to ask for it, justify what programmes you're going to spend it on, get any kind of outside approval for "pet" projects or be in any doubt that the flow of goodies will ever end - is it any surprise that we get debacles like this? £100 mil? Meh! we get over £3Bn a year, it's no biggie!

If the Beeb had to earn its income: have effort and talent rewarded by more moola and incompetence and indolence punished by a shortfall - with the inevitable belt-tightening that happens in the real world, they would be both incentivised to spend it wisely and have developed the disciplines and processes to ensure that they did so.

As it is, they know that next year they will get the same snowstorm of cash thrust upon them, whether they use it to make world-beating telly (which they do) or blow it on whimsy and inefficient operations (which they also do). Without anyone asking questions (surely the job of the governors - and not just "who'd like another brandy?") and scrutinising their policies, this sort of waste is bound to continue.

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Big tech firms holding wages down? Marx was right all along, I tell ya!

Pete 2
Silver badge

19th century principles in a 21st century world

> the lesson of Marx's analysis is that capitalism is a pretty productive system but ...

and it's one hell of a big but (and it does look big, no matter where you look from). Since Marx (1818 - 1883) we have had all sorts of labour reform. Workers have rights, very expensive (if you're an employer) rights and very easily exercised rights, too. At least for those of us on the right side of the pond, these "exploitations" are long-gone. For the high-skilled IT industry: at least in theory and mostly in practice, too (other countries may be lagging a little).

So while we may not get the same levels of remuneration as our colonial cousins, some of that gap is made up by the safety net and protections afforded to employees. Whether people place a value on those (or take them for granted) is a different discussion for another day.

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Do you wear specs? Google Glass offers YOU amazing live HD video

Pete 2
Silver badge

Followed through to the end

> a range of prescription glasses and lenses which can be used with Glass.

So you get your swanky (possibly sans the "s", depending on your view of GG) new specs and wear them while out. Suddenly a plastic piggie in a shopping centre comes up: "Nick-nick. Sorry sir/madam, you can't film in here." At which point you explain, politely, that you aren't filming and that the GG stuff is switched off. PP is adamant that you can't film and that you'll have to remove your specs - GG enabled, or not. At which point you comply and proceed to spend the rest of your shopping trip bumping into things and looking for the local Specsavers.

Repeat in the cinema - as one our our colonial cousins claimed to have done recently with GG enabled spectacles. Repeat again while driving - this time, the (unplastic) police-person has a nice twist. "Sorry sir/madam, you can't wear those while driving. What's that? You don't have a pair of ordinary glasses? Well then you'll have to leave your veHIKle and walk home. Yes I appreciate it's raining and you live 20 miles away. But roolz is roolz (and I am the law until your appeal comes through). You could always call a taxi .... you might even get some change from £50"

Short version: is the hassle involved, and the constant feeling that small children are laughing at you, worth the small and mostly imaginary benefits of owning a device that is frequently banned from use and doesn't really have any benefits over a search engine on a smartphone?

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Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it's serious

Pete 2
Silver badge

The thinking man's grandma

> Stephen Fry's credentials as a technology guru turn out to be tissue thin

I don't think anyone could accuse SF of being a guru - in anything, let alone a technical topic. Sure, he can read a good autocue (though we will never know how many rehearsals are required to get the version we see on TV). However, his technical reputation stems from the in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king principle and it has been bestowed on him only by those more blatantly ignorant in matters that involve a screwdriver or compiler, than he is himself.

The real tragedy is that all these uncritical, unknowledgable lemmings followers have the weight of numbers on their side and the press, always being a sucker for mass appeal over accuracy (present company excluded) have elevated him to the position of lord-high priest whenever a pseudo-technical comment is necessary. And being a media tart, he's only too happy to oblige: actual knowledge, facts, sense or experience not being a requirement where public-friendly sound bites are concerned.

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