* Posts by Jonathan Richards 1

826 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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US election pollsters weren't (very) wrong – statistically speaking

Jonathan Richards 1
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FAIL

What is polling *for*?

When the media are in a feeding frenzy for poll results, it seems to me that the motivation is just wanting to know the news before it happens. Even for the campaigns themselves, it doesn't seem to have a real democratic (lower case) benefit. Swinging the vote your way particularly in places where it will get you a parliamentary-seat-benefit, or an electoral-college-vote benefit, is not democratic, or at least not as democratic as making your case clearly, stating your policies lucidly, and communicating with all the voters in all the constituencies. I agree with an earlier poster: the days of polls being able to produce convincing results is over, and I shall not be sorry to see and hear fewer of them in future (supposing that to be likely).

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Take that, creationists: Boffins witness birth of new species in the lab

Jonathan Richards 1
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Go

Re: Meh...

> non-living particles with some chemical characteristics similar to those of life

+1

Crucially, though, those chemical characteristics include DNA, and its transcription to form the proteins that constitute the phenotype of the virus (bacteriophage, in fact). This is the 'engine' that mutation and evolution work on. Because the phage needs the bacterial cell mechanisms to achieve its reproduction, the phage isn't considered alive: it can't reproduce. But clearly it can evolve: mutations in its DNA lead to different phenotypes, with different abilities to infect certain bacterial cells. Whether that is 'speciation' depends on your definition of 'species'. That way madness lies! After all, the entire concept of 'species' was made up when species were considered to be immutable.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Before they are convinced

I think not. Approximately 9 nano-seconds after the tadpole metamorphoses into a (probably tiny) giraffe, someone will opine that the frog was designed by the Creator to become a giraffe at the appropriate time, and that evolution doesn't come into it. Word-of-the-Year 2016 refers, depressingly.

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Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Considering it's such a tiny amount

> Why is it so tricky to change?

Because it's introduced way back up the supply chain. Bank of England buys the plastic unprinted web from Innovia, Innovia buys the base plastics from one or more polymer producers, one or more polymer producers use or produce plastic pellets which are kept free-flowing by trace amounts of tallow.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Is there a petition to insist that we DON'T change the new £5 note?

I just signed up at the beerfuelled petition.

C'mon guys! There's over 200 comments on this El Reg story, and only fifty-odd signups, so far!

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

Re: Not much of a chemist then?

> could be other factors

Tallow is almost exclusively saturated fat, so it won't oxidise and become adhesive as partially unsaturated vegetable oils will - for an experiment, try treating your cricket bat with tallow, and compare with the traditional linseed oil! I'm thinking that the tiny quantities of tallow involved must be about ensuring the free-flow characteristics of the base polymer pellets. In a similar way, SmartiesTM are polished with a waxy substance to stop the sugar coatings from sticking together.

A little trivial research seems to indicate that tallow is cleaved to produce materials for soap manufacture in quite large quantities: washing one's hands is likely to generate much more contact with molecules that were once part of a cow than is handling a new fiver.

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Europol cop took terror dossier home, flashed it to the web accidentally

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Hit the Share' button by accident?

> Still can't see how he managed to 'accidentally' upload 700 pages...

I ran the linked Dutch article through Google translate: apparently the documents were copied to an Iomega network-attached storage device, without password protection.

she made a backup of documents on a private Iomega network drive, a hard drive that was connected to the Internet without a password

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

Re "this unlucky person"

Also, from TFA

> If organisations like Europol ... can make mistakes,

and

> Human error is the weakest link

There's no luck involved in this idiocy. It's not a mistake to take home a stickful of security protected documents, it's doubly not a mistake to copy them to a personal storage disk, and it's triply not a mistake to expose that on the internet. The first step is probably criminal, and the second and third are just reckless. Edward Snowden faces a lifetime of exile for just exposing classified methods of intelligence collection; this clown is termed "unlucky" for exposing actual intelligence in contravention of policy. Policy isn't made for arse-covering, it's meant to lead to processes and rules which make stupid behaviour like this extinct.

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UK.gov was warned of smart meter debacle by Cabinet Office in 2012

Jonathan Richards 1
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Mushroom

Points from a briefing

I'm fresh from a briefing about Smart Meters, and I brought away two important points:

(i) whatever they tell you, smart meters are not compulsory. You may decline to schedule a change of meter, or indeed change your mind about declining it, as you wish.

(ii) the "first generation" of meters, or the backend connectivity (it wasn't clear) won't talk to suppliers other than the one that installed it for you. I wish I'd known this prior to having EON install a SM, and then switching to British Gas for a cheaper tariff a couple of months later. Now the in-house display doesn't work as it did, and I'm back to reading the meter for BG. Waiting until the system works across all suppliers seems to be a good idea, but of course the suppliers won't tell you that: they have SM installation targets to meet.

(iii) THREE! Three important points!! The installers are forbidden by a strict Code of Practice from selling anything else during the installation visit. They can give you marketing information, but they can't transact a sale. They will, however, inspect your gas boiler, and if it's unsafe they can condemn it, and turn it off. However, you wouldn't want to go on using an unsafe boiler, would you? [icon]

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Internet Archive preps Canadian safe haven to swerve Donald Trump

Jonathan Richards 1
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How large is the Internet Archive?

According to the message on its home page, twenty-six petabytes.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Thumb Up

Backup v. Mirror

> a full (realtime if possible) copy elsewhere ...

If your object is protection, then a real-time mirroring operation is probably not the correct strategy. After all, if some organization with hugely capable offensive IT attack capabilities were subtly to damage Copy 0, you wouldn't want that to be immediately mirrored in Copy 1. Unless there were many backups of both copies, of course. I have no idea what the resilience architecture of the Internet Archive might be, but creation of Copy 1 cannot make it worse, I think, so I've bunged them a few quid.

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100k+ petition: MPs must consider debating Snoopers' Charter again

Jonathan Richards 1
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Rain/Reign/Rein homophones

I refer the Hon. gentleman to my earlier reply (2013, blimey I didn't think my memory was that good!):

Rain - n., wet stuff that falls out of the sky. Hence vt. to rain (usu. down) upon something

Reign - vt., to rule over e.g. a kingdom or empire. Hence "a reign of terror", etc.

Rein - n., a piece of horse-harness, attached to the bit. Hence "rein in", i.e. to limit movement or freedom of action.

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Passengers ride free on SF Muni subway after ransomware infects network, demands $73k

Jonathan Richards 1
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Headmaster

Nations capitol ^W^W Nation's capital

That is all.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Alert

Re: Sign of the times

> In the event of a complete electrical power failure, you're essentially back to flying a C-172

I don't think so. In a Cessna there is a physical linkage between the pilot's controls and the plane's control surfaces, and the aerodynamic forces on the control surfaces are such that a pilot can move them with muscle power alone. Neither of those things is true for a modern jet airliner: the control surfaces are moved by hydraulics which don't go all the way back to the cockpit, and which depend on powered hydraulic servos - I would expect that an airliner with a *complete* electrical failure would be close to unflyable (un-landable, anyway), but IANAP, and would be very pleased if a real airline pilot would tell me otherwise.

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Geo-boffins say 'quake lifted bits of New Zealand by 8 metres, moved at 3km/second

Jonathan Richards 1
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Thumb Up

Re: Low casualties ....

> not much sense staying on a planet that doesn't care for you...

Well, good luck finding one that cares more!

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You want SaaS? Don't bother, darling, your kind can't afford it

Jonathan Richards 1
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Unhappy

Re: It doesn't make sense

> arrives with all the Bcc addresses exposed to each recipient

Crap :(

That's a failure mode that'll get you into hot water at the Office of the UK Information Commissioner.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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'semi-automation using Zapier'

Thank you, Alistair, I didn't know you could do that. My concern with building business-critical support applications using web apps and Zapier would be that one is at the mercy of each one of the web suppliers. If the "glue" depends on several web APIs not changing, then there's going to be a day when your gym owner's conglomeration of apps won't do what he needs and expects, and he'll be up the creek. At least his four hundred quid purchase is a sunk cost, and it'll go on working until it doesn't. If he's wise in line with his muscle mass, he'll have a sinking fund and data backups to replace it when that happens. I haven't looked hard at Zapier to see what the free offering can do, but I see that a premium subscription is 20USD per month (close to £20 sterling, these days). So that's over £200 p.a., just for the glue.

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Airbus flies new plane for the first time

Jonathan Richards 1
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Go

Re: First Flight Challenges

> take the plane up for hours on the first flight and fully explore the flight envelope

Actually, that seemed to be rather a conservative first flight, and nowhere near exploring the boundaries of the flight envelope. The Flightradar24 link shows the plane at about 10,000 ft and a groundspeed of around 200 kt for the majority of the flight, only on the last couple of legs did the throttles get opened a bit, up to 400 kt, and there was a brief excursion to around 28,000 ft.

Contrary to statements in The Fine Article, I saw no evidence of looping. Now that would have been an exciting first flight!

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'Data saturation' helped to crash the Schiaparelli Mars probe

Jonathan Richards 1
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Headmaster

Grammar Q.

Genuine answer from a native English speaker:

I think the very correct wording is indeed "... helped to crash ...". In spoken and vernacular (British) English one might very well leave out the 'to', thus "I just helped Dad wash the car" is perfectly understandable, but Pedantic Grammar Nazi [icon] would have you say "I just helped Dad to wash the car".

Edit: added closing quotes. Muphry's Law strikes again!

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Smoking hole found on Mars where Schiaparelli lander, er, 'landed'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Mushroom

Re: Metric and imperial

Given that this was a trial for a method of soft landing on Mars, those few blackened pixels must make uncomfortable viewing for Mars One candidates.

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International Space Station celebrates 18th birthday in true style – by setting trash on fire

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Fibreglass and cotton ...

> the crew in the magazine (shell storage) had to get out really very quickly indeed (up a vertical ladder) to avoid being drowned by the fire-suppression system

I believe the Royal Navy in WW2 didn't expect the magazine crews to be able to evacuate in case of a fire: they were locked into the magazine, and if it needed to be flooded then they would drown. As evidence, here is a tiny extract from a memoir by S. L. Bell, BEM, whose duty station was the 'A' turret shell room of HMS Exeter at the Battle of the River Plate:

... we all set about our work sending up prepared shells to A turret, when the ship seemed to stagger and shudder, we then noticed smoke coming down the voice pipe, and the turret wouldn't respond to calls; after a brief moment the person in charge of the shell room told the crew members there to get up top to see if there was anything that could be done to assist getting the gun back into action, as we left the shell room I asked about the personnel below in the magazine, and the PIC told me to spin the hatch to let them out and tell them what was happening, as they were locked down in the magazine in case the need to flood ever occurred.

'A' turret had been struck by a shell from Panzerschiffe Admiral Graf von Spee, but precautions against flash igniting the charges in the magazines meant that Exeter survived (just) both this hit, and many others.

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User needed 40-minute lesson in turning it off and turning it on again

Jonathan Richards 1
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Facepalm

... I often try to talk calmly and reassuringly to doors when they bear a sign saying "This door is alarmed". Generally, there's nothing for it to worry about.

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TfL to track Tube users in stations by their MAC addresses

Jonathan Richards 1
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My usual question...

...when I read stories like this. Has anyone done a Privacy Impact Assessment [ico.org.uk] for this project? And then the followup questions: If so, then may we read it, please? Alternatively, if not, then why not?

At the very least, a PIA would indicate some detail around the otherwise hand-waving assertions about achieving anonymity.

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Source code unleashed for junk-blasting Internet of Things botnet

Jonathan Richards 1
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Alert

Not the password in question

Many of the preceding mentions of router security are talking about defaults for and securing of Wi-Fi network passwords (WEP, WPS). These are not the passwords we are talking about when compromising an IoT device: we are talking about the admin interface password, and/or the default password for an SSH or Telnet connection. After all, the DDOSers are not within range of your wireless network!

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ICO boss calls for EU-style data protection rules post-Brexit

Jonathan Richards 1
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re Which is it?

The full title is

REGULATION (EU) 2016/679 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

of 27 April 2016

on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free

movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)

(Text with EEA relevance)

Source: Eur-LEX

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One-way Martian ticket: Pick passengers for Musk's first Mars pioneer squad

Jonathan Richards 1
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Go

OK, I'll bite

Quite seriously, Bashar al-Assad plus any one of his best mates that he chooses to take with him.

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Elon Musk: I'm gonna turn Mars into a $10bn death-dealing interplanetary gas station

Jonathan Richards 1
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Heart of Gold...

... because it's hugely improbable, at all?

I'm all for massive ambitions, and this programme will generate technological and possibly scientific progress, but sending people to die on Mars will be a huge turn-off for the general population, even if the pioneers are well-informed volunteers.

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Not enough personality: Google Now becomes Google Not Anymore

Jonathan Richards 1
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Stop

@Steve 39, in re permissions

I also: I did something that I hardly ever do, viz. reply to an email using the Android 6 gmail app on my phone. It was bloody difficult because a message would pop up every few seconds (literally) saying "This app will not function without proper permissions: enable access to body sensors [which I could just about understand] and the camera [uh, nope]". What sort of a mail client wants access to the camera?

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

*Real* smarts...

... are required to parse the verb "to Shazam".

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Lenovo denies claims it plotted with Microsoft to block Linux installs

Jonathan Richards 1
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Headmaster

Outrageous language!

> do you really believe Microsoft give a flying fuck...

For heaven's sake, we don't have to have disgusting language like that here! Microsoft gives a flying fuck. Microsoft is singular. Cripes.

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She cannae take it, Captain Kirk! USS Zumwalt breaks down

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Nomenclature... @peter_dtm

> ss Great Britain

SS doesn't mean what you think it means! (no, it doesn't mean your thing either, Herr Goebels). SS is an abbreviation for Screw Steamship, to distinguish them from paddle steamers.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: With this tonnage...

> The Treaty of Versailles had nothing to say on the size of Battleships apart from that Germany couldn't have any.

> The treaty DID establish a maximum size of 10,000 tones standard displacement for Cruisers along with an 8" gun size limit.

None of which stopped Germany from building the Panzerschiffe at up to 12,000 tons, with 28cm (11") guns, and all before the Treaty of Versailles was repudiated by the National Socialists.

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Is Tesla telling us the truth over autopilot spat?

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: It is all in a name...

... indeed, and not just the name 'autopilot'. There is a strong feeling in many quarters that Nicola Tesla himself was a wronged genius, done down by The Powers That Be, etc. etc. I sometimes think that the Tesla brand operated by Mr Musk feeds off that association.

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Alleged hacker Lauri Love loses extradition case. Judge: Suicide safeguards in place

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: the United States ruled today

> The Americans came to liberate us, the thing is they never left.

If by "us" you mean England (location of the courts which issued this ruling), then you want to revisit your 20th Century History notes. England, or the rest of the United Kingdom, was not in need of liberation [1], but was in need of hundreds of thousands of troops, and hundreds of thousands of tons of military equipment, in order to open a Western Front and relieve the pressure of the Third Reich on the USSR in the East.

[1] The Channel Islands were occupied, but they're not constitutionally part of the United Kingdom.

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You call it 'hacking.' I call it 'investigation'

Jonathan Richards 1
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Facepalm

Oh, the irony

The point of the famous xkcd cartoon 936 was that the four words "Correct horse battery staple" would be easily remembered as a password.

Alistair wrote:

> correct battery horse staple

PASSWORD INCORRECT REDO FROM START

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Non-doms pay 10 times more in income tax than average taxpayer group

Jonathan Richards 1
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Alien

Re: So in summary....

> If income is not earned in this country, and not brought into this country, why should tax be paid in this country?

Address this question to the US tax authorities, who sent Boris Johnson a bill for capital gains tax on a house he sold in the UK. As I understand it, USians owe tax to Uncle Sam wherever they are in the world, though they can offset local taxes against their US tax liability. BJ was selling his home, so UK capital gains tax didn't apply.

Alien, obviously -->

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Tesla to stop killing drivers: Software update beamed to leccy cars

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: Inattentive twat behind the wheel

> Do we know how the accident unfolded?

I read a report of the investigation; the answer is yes, we do, to a certain extent. The long trailer truck was turning across the carriageway in front of the Tesla, so it was a side-on impact, at speed. The truck driver probably mis-estimated the speed of oncoming traffic, if he saw it at all, and the Tesla didn't slow, slicing its roof off on the underside of the truck and continuing on down the road on the other side.

See e.g. reports at Electrek.

There are also allegations that the Tesla driver was watching a movie while the car's 'Autopilot' was engaged.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Megaphone

Never mind the Mansfield bars...

... why isn't Tesla running out an update which forces cars to obey the posted speed limits?

My standalone sat-nav will beep at me if I drive faster than a posted speed limit. The engineering problem to hook that up to an EMS is trivial.

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Delete Google Maps? Go ahead, says Google, we'll still track you

Jonathan Richards 1
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I do remember...

> simply looking at the SSIDs it can see

... but was it recording SSIDs (which can be changed by the user) or the MAC address of the AP (which generally can't). I know that Google was recording a certain amount of *traffic*, which was temporarily embarrasing. I only ask, because I set up a new router recently (different MAC, of course) with the same SSID as always (because that's simpler). Do you suppose Google knows the location of my router?

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The next Bond – Basildon or Bass-Ass? YOU decide

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: In the absence of a poll…

>Why do people keep banging on about Idris Elba

Maybe because they think he's a good enough actor to take up the baton of Bond? After all, choosing an actor *simply because he is "black"* would be definitively racist, wouldn't it?

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L0phtCrack's back! Crack hack app whacks Windows 10 trash hashes

Jonathan Richards 1
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Pirate

Re: Nope

> booting off a live linux {CD, USB}

All BIOSes allow one to define allowable boot devices, and I haven't seen one for decades that doesn't have a degree of password protection for the BIOS setup [1]. If you care enough, you can forbid the possibility of booting from a CD.

Having said that, I used regularly to use a live CD on a secure network for which I had *my own* Windows credentials: the tools available were just so much more powerful than the ones I could get installed for Windows.

[1] The BIOS password will also be crackable, of course. Mantra: "If the geezer in the Black Hat has unfettered access to the physical device, you're screwed."

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Former RN flagship HMS Illustrious to be sold for scrap – report

Jonathan Richards 1
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Late, and beside the point...

... but I would just like to point out that there was no Falklands War. Argentina did not declare war on the UK, the UK did not likewise declare war on Argentina, due to the unpleasantness that would have caused in the United Nations. There was a military operation, codenamed Operation Corporate, to expel the Argentinian invaders. Had there been a state of war, then the Vulcan operation Black Buck might have been carrying a different weapon to a target further north.

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Idiot flies drone alongside Flybe jet landing at Newquay Airport

Jonathan Richards 1
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Megaphone

OT re St Columb Major

>...hamlet...

Oi! It's been a chartered market town since the fourteenth century! Well, there was still a cattle market there when I was a boy, but now ... not.

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IP mapping hell couple sues

Jonathan Richards 1
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Marketing 101

> why didn't they just say no data was available for that IP address

Because it's hard to sell a dataset that looks like

nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn NaN NaN

[repeat] ....

....

....

....

What would be interesting is to know just how many "default" locations, i.e. non-data records, were being sold to MaxMind's customers.

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BBC will ‘retain your viewing history’

Jonathan Richards 1
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@Andrew

Could you ask the BBC specifically whether it has carried out a Privacy Impact Assessment [PDF]?

If they have, could they share it with us, please? And if they haven't, pray why not?

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By 2040, computers will need more electricity than the world can generate

Jonathan Richards 1
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Re: No, it just means the end of the desktop pc

Why do you think that the silicon running the "cluster" will use less electricity per bit than the silicon in a single-user device? In as much as there is any sense in the press release, it's about pointing out that the physics is becoming the limiting factor, rather than the technology.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

Re: That is one serious bullshit chart

> Energy production line stays flat?

Looks flat; isn't flat. There is a very slight upward slope on the energy production line (only three pixels across the years 2010 to 2040, dy/dx = 0.008...) but it's on a logarithmic Y axis. I can't be bothered to do the arithmetic, but I think that represents a pessimistic forecast for growth in electricity generation.

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Jonathan Richards 1
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Boffin

Re: Good thing world electricity production won't flatline until 2040

@DougS

That was my initial reaction, too. But look again at that graph: the Y axis is logarithmic. Even if you plot a line on it where electricity production doubles every five years [1], it's still going to intercept the IC demand lines some time before I'm a centenarian.

[1] I'm reminded of a Dilbert cartoon, in which Dilbert points to a presentation slide, and says "In phase 3, we meet an alien civilization which shares its advanced technology with us".

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London Stock Exchange's German mega-merger: It's a go, despite Brexit

Jonathan Richards 1
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Pirate

Distance matters...

...when high-frequency trading comes into the picture. If your way of (making money | sucking blood) relies on arbitrage between prices on a scale of milliseconds, then you can't afford to be waiting even a few milliseconds for information from distant markets. London already has the IT infrastructure to support this (important financial mechanism | disturbing parasitism).

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Google Chrome deletes Backspace

Jonathan Richards 1
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Mushroom

Re: Long overdue

Alt-SysReq-b works better on Linux systems...

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