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* Posts by John Smith 19

9551 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Leaked docs: GCHQ spooks secretly haul in more data than NSA

John Smith 19
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So *that's* what "Mastering the Internet" meant

It was usually described as being part of the IMP.

Note that rule.

"We can only intercept (data) calls where they are talking to someone abroad"

Exactly like the US FISA act.

And for exactly the same reason.

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RBS Mainframe Meltdown: A year on, the fallout is still coming

John Smith 19
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Odd but when they multiply No of staff used x No of yrs to develop banks discover

It costs a f**k of a lot of money to duplicate the functions and then test the software, to confirm you have.

You cannot overestimate how far a bank will go to avoid having to re-implement a system, especially a system that has been running reliably for decades.

BTW what's tended to happen was support systems were added over the years. Firstly as applications on the mainframe, then (typically) on DEC VMS boxes, then on to various flavours of Unix, then on Windows (and Linux) servers, with rising levels of virtualisation as that technology has improved.

Would reverse engineering this "architecture" to re-factor the system so some modules were brought "closer" together be a good idea? Probably.

Is it going to happen. Probably not.

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John Smith 19
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Nothing actually *wrong* with mainframe

So why replace it?

IIRC Assembler had a big part to play supporting ATM's on OS/370, but that decades ago due to response speed and number of them. Hard to believe it's still a key tool in the MF developers arsenal.

Back in the day Cybermation built an awesome mainframe scheduler.

It was the mother of all TSR's. The devs (patching a live mainframe OS) must have been quite special.

Sadly CA bought them and the rest is history.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Porting Apps? Downtime.. Eh

"No porting of apps, no downtime required. That is what makes the mainframe such a great environement to develop and run. Something that lesser mortals dont get."

True.

But is not £450m somewhat expensive for a hardware upgrade alone?

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John Smith 19
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Re: Apps?

" ...khat stunned PFY..." "...Nasreen the Nerk..."

You aren't by any chance based somewhere around Edinburgh?

"khat stunned PFY"

I'll be remembering that one.

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Nominet sacks freshly-hired exec implicated in hospital 'cover-up' scandal

John Smith 19
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Meh

CQC claimed they could not name the people in the cover up meetings because of DP

But the Information Commissioner has said that "data protection" is a BS excuse.

I think he might be in a position to knowledgeably comment on the issue.

So someone knows who said "This report can never see the light of day."

And it looks like (if the CQC wants to salvage any reputation for doing its job properly they'd better fill in the blanks now.).

I suspect HR at nominet might already know the answer to that question..

However until it's made public I'm not happy.

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Not all data encryption is created equal

John Smith 19
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The bottom line is it's damm hard work for *experts* to ensure their privacy. *but*

That is not an argument to give up.

The internet protocols made some assumptions which are no longer valid.

All users were authorized to use the internet by default (no bad guys) and all users knew what they were doing and the operator (back then mostly governments) is not interested in peeking.

None of these can be relied upon any more, despite the fact there is no legitimate reason for 24/7/365 surveillance of all internet traffic in a country that still believes in the presumption of innocence.

It's time for a new generation of protocols which support privacy and security. So I don't have to say who I am all the time but when I identify myself it really can only be me.

IOW it's time to make the egg "hard boiled"

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Can Jonny Ive's new 'iOS Vista' SAVE the BBC's £100m BRAIN? Yes!

John Smith 19
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Re: Is it just me...

"Reg, you produce gobs of brilliant content but quite frequently, some absolute shite."

Think of this as their "Strategy Boutique" section..

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Google staffing boss: Our old hiring procedures were 'worthless'

John Smith 19
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Re: World's cleverest company states the obvious

"I, for one, have only every actually done 3 interviews sitting on the employer side of the desk. I find the information about what worked (and didn't) for Google helpful. Doubly so now that I have my own company and it's future growth to worry abou"

Let me suggest that if their qualification are important to their ability to do the job people actually check them because people have a tend to err, lie.

For the rest may I suggest you set up a dummy environment and get them to actually test their skills. It's going to be time consuming but with virtual machines should be fairly easy to re-set for the next candidate.

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New cheapo iPhone ain't gonna be that cheap, says non-Foxconn CEO

John Smith 19
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Terminator

Oh darn, beat me to it, but still.

<- Sort of transformers icon.

All hail Pegatron

.

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House bill: 'Hey NASA, that asteroid retrieval plan? Fuggedaboutit'

John Smith 19
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Re: Flip-flop @John Smith 19

""NASA does not control what centres it is allowed to open or close."

Yeah, I know. It sucks. Congress sucks. I feel sorry for the NASA guys honestly. They're just wanting to explore but they've got to play kiss ass to Congress to do anything."

TBF (not something I'm known for :) ) I'm no expert on the US political system (except some of the bits that deal with NASA) so AFAIK NASA is one of 24 "Federal Agencies," like DEA, NOAA, FEMA. I wonder wheather they have autonomy over such operation matters or is solely NASA that has this handicap?

Also NASA is not really a single entity. It's more like a "federation" and some of its parts seem to to have more in common with the fictional NID in Stargate SG1 than a properly behaved office of a large bureaucracy.

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John Smith 19
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Re: It's a shame

"I was having visions of them solving the radiation exposure problem by hollowing out a large enough asteroid for Earth-Mars trips."

It may not look very sleek but there's a lot to be said for being inside a large fresh water tank inside about 10m of rock

It's radiation protection level is formidable

But, no, that's not what Con-gress wants.

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John Smith 19
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Meh

It's only an Authorization bill and it's a *dratt" bill

Draft. A small nasty leak of wind you want to get rid of.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Flip-flop @John Smith 19

"I realize the difficulties it would pose to move NASA out of Texas "

Well that's part of the problem.

NASA does not control what centres it is allowed to open or close.

I'm not sure it can even control their headcount.

Note also that NASA (IIRC) has the 2nd highest number of "earmarks" on its funding behind the DoD budget, which is somewhat larger.

But remember "Authorization" means nothing. It's Appropriations that count.

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John Smith 19
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Re: GIve NASA a Mission and let them Stick to It

No.

Give NASA a 10 year budget and have the Legislature stick to it.

Let NASA figure out the mission.

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John Smith 19
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Remember people "authorization" means precisely b***er all.

It's the Appropriations act that dishes out the real cash.

There will also be a Senate version of this and the White house will have a version as well.

Do you ever feel that the idea in "Eagle Eye" for a decapitation strike on the US leadership's only flaw

was it didn't take out the Congress and Senate as well?

Issiah Berlin's comment about "negative" and "positive" freedom seems rarely more obvious.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Stasis guaranteed

"They threw out all the technical schematics of the Saturn V etc - so they are starting from scratch and they'll never get the wherewithal to overtake China"

That's a UL. The schematics exist and are IIRC in a warehouse in Kansas City.

The Moon could like deep space give experience of long term closed loop life support and (possibly) the use of small(ish) nuclear reactor power systems.

But so could the asteroid mission. What it can't give is experience of work well outside the Earth Moon system.

But your right trouble comes when the Legislature sets the goals.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Flip-flop

"I'm also going to propose a bill that will prevent any Republican from Texas from belonging to any committee that involves science or history."

You need to be aware of the big problems with space.

Texas. Most of the human spaceflight work is done here. As far as they are concerned if it take 10 years for the next crewed launch they don't care. That's 10 years more work for them.

Alabama. Design big rockets. Von Brauns old home base.Haven't actually built a new rocket for decades. It's no accident that Orion "just happened" to be too big for either Atlas V or Delta IV (although, surprise surprise it can launch on a Delta IV in 2017 after a bit of diet).

Utah. Where they make the big solid SRB's. Possible the worst place in the US for building a structure which is a)Mostly a large chunk of high explosive b)Too wide, too long and too dangerous to ship by road then moving it to Florida. BTW the staff and tech need to make them have nothing to do with the tech for ICBM motors. I asked if you could block build them and store them vertically in basically holes in the desert, after all ICBM do that for years. I was told the propellant "slumps." So any story about "synergy" between SLS and "national defense" is BS.

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Boffins light way to photonic computing with 1PB DVD tech

John Smith 19
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You're looking at writing a 20nm line with a 800nm laser

This uses both a very clever computer generated hologram (optical phase plate) to give the doughnut beam and also some very clever chemistry to deliver 2 separate photo activated reactions.

Note that's lambda/42 and that's without a)UHV system and b)a $10m+ synchrotron.

The downsides are you can't write 2 lines very close together and its direct write (serial) processing.

OTOH what if you write a 300mm wafer with a 100 simultaneous beams?

The holy grail of optical storage? I think not. But damm clever and with lots of potential. Worth a thumbs up.

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Facebook: We now have one million real admen stalking you. Huzzah..?

John Smith 19
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It's weird when you have to view some sites without adblock and noscript

You barely recognize the site.

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I, for one, welcome our GIANT TITANIUM INSECT OVERLORDS

John Smith 19
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Wow. You wouldn't want one of those in your bed.

But I did not know Titanium could be done yet.

Thumbs up for detail, creativity and size.

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Reg to Australia: Here's your chance to find NBN answers

John Smith 19
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Sucking the marrow from the NBN

Nice.

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Nuke plants to rely on PDP-11 code UNTIL 2050!

John Smith 19
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Re: Crufty old machines.

"New stuff means an extended shutdown and recertification."

This is the biggie with certain embedded tasks, space, defense, nuclear and transport being the main ones.

It's why jet engine controllers still run with Z80s for example.

It's good enough to get the job done (but the devs may have had to use some very clever tricks to a) Handle complex tasks with the available processing power and required response times and b) Prove their solution meets the task constraints.

The trouble really starts when the documentation goes "missing."

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John Smith 19
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Re: That sounds like a BA23 enclosure

"A VT103 (a PDP11 in a VT100). Now that's something."

True.

Unless you've seen an IBM 370 add on board in an AT case (seen in Byte a long time ago).

Of course licensing the OS was a bit tricky.

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John Smith 19
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"I still need to build something with the J-11 chip I bought on eBay a while ago."

Get hold of an old Heathkit computer.

I think they used a version of the single chip VAX architecture.

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John Smith 19
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Coat

PDP 11 odds and ends.

The PDP 11 (like the PARC Alto) had a main processor built from standard 4 bit TTL "ALU" parts and their companion "register file." So 2nd, 3rd,4th sourced. I'm not sure how many mfg still list them on their available list in the old standard 0.1" pin spacing.

El Reg ran a story that Chorus (formerly British Steel) ran them for controlling all sorts of bits of their rolling mills but I can't recall if they are

I think the core role for this task is the refueling robots for the CANDU reactors. CANDU allows "on load" refuelling. The robots work in pairs locked onto each end of the pressurized pipes that carry the fuel and heavy water coolant/moderator. They then pressurize their internal storage areas, open the ends and one pushes new fuel bundles in while the other stores the old ones, before sealing the ends. However CANDU have been working on new designs with different fuel mixes (CANDU's special sauce (C Lewis Page) is that it's run with unenriched Uranium, which is much cheaper and does not need a bomb making enrichment facility) and new fuel bundle geometries, so time for a software upgrade.

And 128 users on a PDP 11/70. Certain customers ran bespoke OSes in the early 90s that could get 300+ when VMS could only support about less than 20 on the same spec.

Note for embedded use this is likely to be RSX rather than VMS, which also hosted the ICI developed RTL/2, which was partly what hosted the BBC CEEFAX service for decades.

Yes, it's an anorak.

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When to say those three little words: 'I am quitting'

John Smith 19
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Trollface

Re: Only half joking...

"I got home and found my boss in bed with my wife.

"WTF is going on?" I yelled.

"Remember when you said you would do anything for that promotion?"

"Yes..?" I replied.

"Get undressed, when I have finished with her, you're next...""

And in a similar vein buying a nice house

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John Smith 19
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Re: Yeeees.....but.....

"The problem here is that that powerful bastard almost certainly didn't get to be a powerful bastard by being even-handed, thoughtful and taking the flak for his fuckups, but by hoovering the ceiling[1]."

[1] A process that involves sucking up and all the crap travelling downwards.

I will have to remember that one.

The behaviour definitely sounds familiar....

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John Smith 19
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Re: Long notice period

The UK seems to still be fond of the "personal reference."

Can you comment on the real state of practice?

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John Smith 19
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Re: My opinion......This author comes off as a spoiled teenager, because its everyone elses fault.

"The trouble started when a) we needed to bring more people in & found out the going rate at that time for the job and b) next pay round time came & I was offered slightly under inflation. I left soon after that."

Older and a little wiser.

You just try to avoid doing it again.

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John Smith 19
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Re: My opinion......This author comes off as a spoiled teenager, because its everyone elses fault.

"I left very soon after and took holiday the day I handed in my notice, apparently the boss was seen with his head in his hands asking what they would have to do to keep me on as I was "invaluable"."

The answer to that BS is "Look me in the eye and tell me if you were in my shoes and know what I know about the pay rates round here you would not be doing exactly what I'm doing."

If they say "I would stay" you know they are either a)An idiot b)A psychopath who will lie through their teeth.

If their honest they might be worth staying in touch with.

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EU Justice Department stalls India's security clearance

John Smith 19
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"Is the USA included in this list of 'data secure destinations'? Inquiring minds want to know..."

How will this play with the Indian Snoopers Charter?

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John Smith 19
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Re: Out of pure curiosity...

"Is the USA included in this list of 'data secure destinations'? Inquiring minds want to know..."

Yes. Probably why the DVLA sent it's driving test data there on a thumb drive (which got lost) and the last 2 UK national censuses were processed by Lochheed Martin, also in the US.

I think Israel is also "trusted."

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UK telcos chuck another £1m at online child abuse watchdog

John Smith 19
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Mushroom

Maria Miller says she's a mother and wants "every one's children to be safe online"

Why don't you f**king try parenting your children instead.

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Fifty, fired and fretful: Three chaps stare down CAREER MORTALITY

John Smith 19
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Re: "Oh we can't find the skills."

"You forgot the next part :

"therefore, we need more cheap and easily pressured para-slaves skilled immigrant workers""

I think the thing that p**ses me off the most is these types have no sense of cause and effect. It's never their fault or their problem.

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John Smith 19
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"Give us 15 yrs experience but only cost like someone with 1 year."

It's human nature to want a bargain.

But I really wonder how delusional managers are about this?

Then they b**ch about "Oh we can't find the skills."

It's like some moron who plays with a working chainsaw then wonders why they are falling over.

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Number of cops abusing Police National Computer access on the rise

John Smith 19
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"The PNC doesn't hold vehicle information. That's the DVLA database which is a completely separate system. Get your facts right."

True

PNC2 holds the "Stolen and suspect vehicle index."

There are plenty of other reasons for a vehicle to be on the PNC apart from being stolen.

Which means either you don't know as much as you think you do, or you're being misleading.

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John Smith 19
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Meh

Re: 76 officers in London have been investigated

"It doesn't exactly look like rampant misuse to me"

In the same way that no Met Police officer who has published their memoirs has ever admitted to taking a bribe.

Ever.

Not a single one.

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John Smith 19
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Gimp

"Err, who does trust the security services?"

Easy.

Politicians

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John Smith 19
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@Trevor_Pott

"Honest question: how does this database's so-called "due process" square with the EU "right to be forgotten"? I'll leave the question of "should such a database exist" for other threads, but I do wonder how "unproven or non-essential-to-task personally identifiable information" can be stored indefinitely against someone's will?"

Much the same way that number plate recognition data is stored for (IIRC) up to 5 yrs in the UK for no very good reason, other than "Because we can."

As you might have guessed the Police National Computer (actually PNC2, as they retired the original, Siemens I think, mainframe years ago) runs multiple applications and databases.

However the UK has a thing called "The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act" which allows that for a lot of crimes after a period (IIRC 8 years) a conviction is "spent" and you don't have to include it on an employment application. That does not include sex crimes and I'm fairly sure murder and armed robbery, but it supports the idea that you have "paid your debt to society" already and persecution over events nearly a decade ago (at least) should not be forgotten in most cases.

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Confidence in US Congress sinks to lowest level ever recorded

John Smith 19
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Re: Might I suggest that "Approval" does not *necessarily* mean agreement?

"One problem, here: what Our Troops are doing in Afghanistan -- and did in Iraq -- has absolutely nothing at all to do with "defending our country"."

Anything above a superficial examination of why the US invaded either country shows the idea was deeply stupid, but the idea that people (not themselves usually) would commit to defending the abstract idea of a country is what (I think) Americans admire. You honor the men and women, not the politicians who sent them or the reasons for going.

It would be interesting to confirm (or not) Michael Moore's assertion that no child of a serving Senator or Congressperson is serving in the military at this time, and I think that includes the Texas Air National Guard. That's where Bush Jnr sat out Viet Nam, just in case the NVA decided to open a second front on Dallas or Houston. You've got to wonder if the old frat boy was smart enough to think up that dodge himself or did daddy "suggest" it.

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NSA: We COULD track you by your phone ... if we WANTED to

John Smith 19
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Joke

Re: NSA: We COULD track you by your phone ... if we WANTED to

"NSA: We COULD track you by your phone ... if we WANTED to "

That reminds me of the old gag about the senior police officer who was asked if his force harassed gays and ethnic minorities who replied "Well in an ideal world, but we simply don't have the budget to do both."

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John Smith 19
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Black Helicopters

Re: Storm in a teacup

"We all know the NSA does not spy on American citizens. Its charter doesn't allow it."

Oh, they published it, did they?

I thought it was still secret.

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John Smith 19
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Re: Saying _we_ don't track you doesn't mean you aren't tracked

"hey don't need to track the phones. They can simply order the carriers to do it on their behalf."

You're beginning to speak fluent civil servant.

Thumbs up for your mastery of the language.

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New material enables 1,000-meter super-skyscrapers

John Smith 19
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Boffin

A note on elevator safety

In the early 30's the cables went on a lift car in the Empire State Building.

63 floors straight down.

With 1 man on board.

He broke both his legs and probably never got in a lift again but otherwise was completely unharmed.

Those springs at the bottom of the shaft really do work.

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John Smith 19
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Joke

Re: What about Tokyo Skytree?

" "There are currently only three elevator-equipped structures in the world that top 500 meters""

See that's what happens when you use Wikipedia for research.

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John Smith 19
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Re: just to troll

"Skyscrapers hell where is my space elevator? We need cables 100's km long not a thousand meters."

No, sorry, not even close.

Proponents of space elevators seem rather coy about the numbers needed for the material because the current SoA is so far below what's needed, although (slowly) they are climbing, no pun intended.

IIRC the standard unit of rope capability for a space elevator is called a "Uri."

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'Smart ring' revealed by upstart Chinese mobe-maker

John Smith 19
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Joke

But Geak will maintain a "master ring"

One ring to rule them all.

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Global tax data exchange plan floated to recoup cash

John Smith 19
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Meh

Remeber the difference between "avoidance" and "evasion"

About 5 years for individuals who are caught.

Let me suggest this should is limited to companies

Jeff Bezos did not make £13Bn.

Amazon did.

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Badger bloodbath brouhaha brings 'bodge' bumpkin bank burgle bluster

John Smith 19
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"Forget the hacking issue: some of us want to know what is going to happen to all the culled Badgers!

I checked over on the "River Cottage" website and there are no Badger recipes - yet.

[I'd suggest Pâté as suitable for one's first exploratrions of the realm of Badger-cuisine]."

Yeah. This is the important question

What's brock pie taste like? Gamier than cat? Milder than rabbit?

I worked in a Japanese office. The only question about a 4 legged animal is breakfast, lunch or dinner?

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