* Posts by wheel

66 posts • joined 24 Oct 2009

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FREEZE, GLASSHOLE! California cops bust Google Glass driver

wheel

Not many lawyers here on El Reg

I think we're all in for a bad time if the police are allowed to make up the law on the go, whether or not we think it was a good idea. If this goes to court, the citation will most likely be struck down. Here's why:

Section 27602(a) contains the words 'is operating'. That is to say that it is illegal to drive a vehicle while a display (excepting those listed in 27602(b)) is switched on. As the lady swears it was not switched on, and assuming the cop had not checked it was by removing the glasses from the lady and looking into them himself, she cannot be said to have been driving while the display was "operating and ... visible to the driver" (as specified). The arresting officer would be asked how he could ticket a driver for using an operating display when that display was not operating.

Interestingly, 27602(a) seemingly also makes it illegal to use a smart phone as a sat nav in California. Why? Well, you can also watch video on a smart phone, and so it would not be exempt, as it neither satisfies 27602(b)(5)(A) – it would have no interlock to prevent the driver from watching video – nor possibly 27602(b)(5)(B) which states that the smartphone must be "designed, operated, and configured in a manner that prevents the driver of the motor vehicle from viewing the television broadcast or video signal while operating the vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner". While a smartphone can be configured and operated in this way (and I guess Google Glass can too), I know of no smartphone which is *designed* in such a manner.

Of course, I am sure that the smartphone makers – and everyone else – would argue that watching video while driving would mean that you were not operating the vehicle in a safe and reasonable manner, and that to be safe and reasonable you would have to not be watching video. That, of course, would be a legal catch-all, meaning that, as long as whatever display you were using was set up as a sat-nav, you could legally use it and that would include Google Glass.

Damn it, I should have gone into law, rather than music.

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Astroboffins to search for mega-massive alien power plants

wheel

Re: Mass

Yes, but the point is that to build a Dyson Sphere all the matter in the solar system would have to be converted to this crazy supermaterial. The energy required to convert all that matter would require a really big power source.

Like a Dyson Sphere, perhaps?

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Reg hack uncovers perfect antidote to internet

wheel
Mushroom

Re: Picture 6, the man in the hole.

Ah, that's nothing. My parents have a house in a small town called Cantoria, in the mountains of Almeria. Every January they have a three day festival in honour of Saint Anton. On the first day they fire fireworks into the town square – while the townspeople huddle together and watch, presumably excited by the prospect of being hit by one. On the second day, the 'carratilleros' (rough translation: 'firework throwers') walk the streets throwing roman candles at the houses. And drinking wine. To make sure the emergency services don't spoil the fun they light huge bonfires at the major road intersections.

It's not all bad though. To make sure the children don't get hurt, they have their own time slot for firework throwing; the kids can throw fireworks between 8 and 11pm, which is when the crazy drunken adults come out.

On the third, anticlimactic, day, the town takes the saintly effigies to the chapel on the hill, and firecrackers and rockets are set off around them. No real risk of injury, except to the eardrums.

I think I may go back next year...

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UK ice boffin: 'Arctic melt equivalent to 20 years of CO2'

wheel

Re: Nice to see that someone has their head on straight

I think nuclear is the only sensible conclusion a global-warming-fearing environmentalist *can* come to.

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Ten... Star Wars videogame classics

wheel

Re: Return of the Jedi

Yes. And in the last level you piloted the Millennium Falcon through the Death Star. Same mechanics as the speeder bike, though. And still bloody impossible.

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wheel

Re: Never understood...

Starfighter and Jedi Starfighter were released subsequently. Jedi Starfighter was good fun, as you could blow up enemies with force lightning. (Of course, both were set during the prequels.)

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Battlefield Earth ruled worst film EVER

wheel
Mushroom

Alien vs Predator: Resurrection

'Nuff said.

Alright, not quite enough. I have only watched the first 20 minutes, at which point I lost the will to live. I am actually typing this in hell. The only entertainment here is regular screenings of AVP:R. Now I have said enough.

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Student's Linux daemon 0-day triggers InfoSec Institute outcry

wheel

Re: You mean wicd?

As wicd is distributed as part of the BackTrack distribution (the clue is in the second word there), there is something wrong with BackTrack. The fact there is also something wrong with many other GNU/Linux distributions does not change this fact (though does change the story somewhat).

On another note, the "It's not our fault, go whine to someone else!" response given by BackTrack does demonstrate why proprietary operating systems dominate the market. Simply put, it's nice to know where the buck stops.

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Amount of ice in Bering Sea reaches all-time record

wheel

Aside from that

I note that most of the attacks on the article in the 'comments' are actually ad hominem attacks on the author. Such attacks are always weak. Stop using them.

(And kudos to those who have attacked his argument, rather than his perceived beliefs.)

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wheel
Thumb Down

As a hippie myself...

... I think it is foolish for you to take Greenpeace's word that they are hippies. The logical flaw of "Greenpeace says that its members are hippies ergo it must be true" is the same as "Greenpeace says that the world is going to end in 2011 ergo we are no longer here".

I'm sure Greenpeace likes to think of itself as a hippie organisation. I tend to think of them more as eco-terrorists, willing to impose their beliefs on others at all costs. Frankly, they are the man.

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UPDATE: GAGA team hunts down grass-smoking ROBOT

wheel

Inductors

I worry that you may be making this too complicated; surely the easiest way would be to surround the lawn with some kind of barrier (e.g. a buried wire carrying a low frequency signal). While barrier mapping is good if you can see a barrier sticking up (e.g. a wall), it would not prevent the lawnmower from falling in a pond or swimming pool (of course, other sensors could be used to detect such things, but they add more complexity). I'm guessing that you intend to program a map of the lawn manually, so that the lawnmower knows where your garden stops and your neighbour's car begins; if so, you had better get your measurements spot on!

Burying a cable, of course, would eliminate the need for mapping beyond a simple inertial model; the lawnmower could roam around the lawn like a demented Roomba, and you would never have to worry about it escaping. Unless the low frequency power went off, of course.

I did have a crazy idea about RuBee style inductance transmitters; I'm no expert, but I understand that if the ariel size is a tiny fraction of the wavelength, the magnetic field dominates the electric field. As the magnetic field falls off much more quickly than the electric field, you could triangulate from magnetic field strength with greater accuracy than from the electric field strength, while still avoiding interference. All you would need would be a few short ariels / inductance coils transmitting different VLF frequencies (with kilometer-scale wavelengths). (These low frequencies propagate without worrying about water, metal, humans etc., which would solve one of your WiFi problems.) The lawnmower could then triangulate its position with some simple analogue electronics.

No idea if this would work, but it would be reasonably easy to try, and would work a lot better than using RFID tags which are *designed* to be unreadable more than a few centimetres away.

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Death Star SUCKS PLASMA FROM SUN in NASA riddle vid

wheel
Facepalm

But seriously...

Am I the only one worried that the NASA scientist in the second video doesn't seem to know the difference between 'spherical' and 'circular'?

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Warp drives are PLANET KILLERS, Sydney Uni students find

wheel

Re: So...

Well, Jump drive seems to just compress time, to make it seem like it takes less time to reach your destination; that is why you cannot use it when other ships are around (they could blow you out of the sky before you can react). Frontier did away with it altogether, replacing it with various fast forward options (which could be used when other ships were around, though they then tended to blow you out of the sky before you could react).

Hyperspace drive cannot be used near a planet or star because of their gravity wells, according to the Frontier manual.

I feel I am revealing the extent of my misspent youth...

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UK's supercomputers rev up to hit 800 teraflops

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Oz skeptic offers prize if Rossi’s E-cat works

wheel

Patents...

Here's what I'm confused by. If Rossi won't allow peer review before he gets a patent, why is he happy to sell units before he gets a patent. Surely there is ample scope for reverse engineering?

If the US Navy was indeed his first customer, I would imagine the unit is already in little bits, being scrutinized by their top people.

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Bit-part actress slings sueball at IMDb over age gripe

wheel

Some sad facts about being an actress

I don't know if this lady has a case in law, but:

(1) Your actual age DOES count in casting directors' assessment of you, and actresses in particular are rightly paranoid about hiding their actual ages. I know of an actress in her mid-thirties who looks like she is at most in her mid-twenties. She doesn't tell anyone her real age, not even her close friends. Why? She lost out on a part at the start of her career because she was 23, which the casting director deemed 'too old' to play 18. Needless to say, she wouldn't have been cast as a 23 year old because she looked far too young...

(2) There are very, very few parts in TV or film for non-name actresses over 40. As a result, many people in the industry seem to regard any actress over 40 as 'past it'; there is definitely a psychological barrier at that age. It seems entirely reasonable to assume that allowing casting directors to know an actress is over 40 would be detrimental to that actress's career, especially if her playing age was considerably younger, as she would not be seen for parts which she could realistically play.

(3) With regard to how many parts this lady has listed on IMDB each year reflecting the success of her career: films take time to make, so any credits in 2011 could reflect audition successes in 2010 or earlier; for each role she was cast in, she will have auditioned for dozens more; and if she is claiming that the revelation of her age has already damaged her career, she would know at least a year before it becomes obvious on IMDB. For instance, the number of auditions she gets called to may have drastically reduced. (Actors get called to auditions after the casting directors have seen their 'resumés', and compared them, almost inevitably, with IMDB.)

Some people have commented that $1 million is too much, but if her career has been cut short by, say, five years, that would be $200,000 a year. Quite a lot, but not impossible if she could have got a regular part in a TV series. If she looks 25 now, as some here have opined, then she could argue that her career has been cut short by 10 years, at which point $1 million looks quite reasonable.

If you are an actress, your real age is commercially sensitive information. As an industry resource IMDB should know this, even if some people who have commented on this story don't.

FYI: I work in the industry, albeit mainly in theatre rather than film, and hence understand something of the dark arts of casting. The casting director's job is demanding as bad casting can destroy a film / show. Perhaps this is why they are rather conservative about playing ages; not stating their real age is the only defence an actor has. The consequence is that all actors, male and female, are likely to lie about their age at some time or another, and up to now that has worked out fine. But, for instance, if IMDB had published her age, Gillian Anderson would probably not have been cast as Dana Sculley; she was 24 at the time, but she pretended to be older so she could be considered for the part. (Obviously, Sculley was older than 24, as she had gained a medical degree and a PhD before studying at Quantico.)

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Apple legal threat to Steve Jobs doll deemed 'bogus'

wheel

It's working isn't it?...

...if you're reading it and commenting on it.

No, of course I can't produce the letter, only what the Telegraph quoted it as saying.

It may all be bullshit, but is the idea of Apple threatening spurious litigation that far-fetched?

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wheel
Meh

Apple's claim was always spurious

If I recall, Apple's legal team wrote that selling the doll would be 'a criminal offence', which is so patently untrue that I am amazed any legal department would have been responsible for it.

It is, at most, a civil offence or (tort), and only then in jurisdictions which allow post-mortem personality rights. So while the doll certainly could not be sold or advertised in, say, Indiana without risk of (civil) legal proceedings (Indiana law has personality rights which extend 100 years post-mortem), it could certainly be sold in some other states without any realistic prospect of litigation. The 'single publication' rule cited on the 'Right of Publicity' site above might apply, but if the products are not available within a jurisdiction with suitable personality rights laws, no case could succeed in the first place.

And, of course, this doesn't affect the world outside the US anyway, as separate cases would have to be brought in each international jurisdiction, where local laws permit.

But here's the thing – most 'ordinary' people are not likely to want to spend the best part of $100 on a Steve Jobs doll. Those who would might actually prefer it if it was difficult to get hold of, as it would become more exclusive, so more 'collectable'. If the threat of litigation prevents the doll's legal sale in California, I doubt it would affect sales too much.

(Two things: first IANAL, though, apparently, I understand the difference between a criminal offence and a civil tort better than Apple's lawyers. Secondly, the Steve Jobs doll was pictured with an iPhone prop, and Apple would be able to sue for that everywhere; I suspect it might not ship with something that looks exactly like an iPhone.)

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E-gambling tax will spark web bet shop exodus - report

wheel

Looks to me like an attempt to get the online gambling providers to move back onshore by removing the incentive to move offshore. Indeed, if the tax only applies to offshore providers (though I'm not sure if that would be allowed in European law), there would be a clear incentive for the providers to move back onshore: 10% of gross profits will be much less than 5% of takings.

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Boffins unimpressed by LOHAN's sizzling thruster

wheel
Mushroom

Simplicity is possible...

As the rockets are the source of thrust, they could be held in place by that thrust, and allowed to fall away when the thrust from the next rocket pair kicks in.

The only difficulty would be in holding the rockets in before they thrust, but I would imagine that would be possible with something along the lines of thick cellophane; as soon as the rocket fires, the cellophane would burn away. I don't think this would add much complexity.

(Nuclear blast as an example of how the cellophane would burn when the rocket fires, of course.)

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Fuel taxes don't hurt the world's poor - they don't have cars

wheel
Facepalm

But... what? Eh?

Is this really the argument? :-

Fuel tax doesn't affect the poor because they don't use fuel.

Therefore, we can tax fuel without worrying that it makes poor people poorer, because they're already too poor to afford it.

This is baffling. Either it could be used to argue for a complete ban on all fuel use – because the poor don't need it, so why should the rich? – or, conversely, that fuel tax should be completely eliminated so that the poor can more readily afford it.

Any *tax* on fuel designed to reduce use – rather than, say, fuel rationing – is economic warfare, and those who have the least money will be the worst affected – even if that means that someone who doesn't currently run a car cannot afford to run one!

Personally I don't necessarily oppose a fuel tax, but I cannot see a real argument here. Even leaving aside the very pertinent matter of secondary costs, the argument only works if you define the poor as those who are too poor to be affected by the tax, in which case it is a circular argument.

"Only people who cannot afford fuel are poor, so increasing fuel taxes will not affect the poor."

(Let's also leave aside those people who might become 'poor' because of higher fuel prices!)

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NASA wants space washing machine for ISS, Mars bases

wheel
WTF?

Also used on ships?

Is there a shortage of water on ships? If so, might I suggest that the crew aren't looking hard enough?

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Not so fast: Italian boffins say neutrinos not faster than light

wheel

Not quite

One of those funny things about space time is that the 'curved' path that light takes is always the shortest path between two points. If the neutrinos were to follow the 'straight' path they'd have to travel further.

As an analogy, imagine two hikers who encounter a steep hill in the middle of a plain. (The hill is, improbably, taller than it its radius.) One decides to take the 'straight' path, which involves climbing up the hill and down the other side. The other decides to take the 'curved' path and walks around the base of the hill before continuing his/her journey. The 'straight' hiker actually travels further than the 'curved' hiker because of the way the plain has been warped by the hill.

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Apple gets patent for ‘unlock gesture’

wheel

No, the maze is fine

... as it doesn't require moving an icon from one area of the screen to another. The standard lock screen, however, may well fall foul of this.

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Sunday Mirror must face Kylie's ex-lover in France privacy case

wheel
Happy

Agreed. Actually, this makes 'jurisdiction shopping' less attractive, as a publisher could always appeal on the basis that some technicality of law in the court's jurisdiction made that law more restrictive than the equivalent in its home country. Such technicalities are hard to argue within one legal system, let alone across legal systems.

So, basically, if you want to sue a publication in another jurisdiction you can, but be prepared for multiple appeals going as far as the ECJ if you happen to win. Or, of course, you can sue in the publication's home country if you think they might actually have a case to answer.

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Apple predicted AI assistant for tablets in 1987

wheel
Thumb Down

ST:TNG

It looks like 1987 Apple had merely been watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. They had talking computers which could manipulate graphical data, and they also had tablet computers called PADDs.

Hmmm... iPADD?

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Stars say relativity still works

wheel
FAIL

Gravity makes weight, mass makes gravity

No, as there is mass within the clusters, there is obviously gravity. The gravity from any one massive body accelerates all other massive bodies, leading to weight. Consequently everything with mass has weight, the weight being affected by the gravitational frame of reference.

So whatever the answer is, it is not zero. ;-)

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Faster-than-light back with surprising CERN discovery

wheel

Maxwell's equations are relativistic?

As Maxwell published in 1861 and Einstein in 1905, that is somewhat unlikely. Maxwell can be reframed in a relativistic context, but so can Newton.

Let's not comment on bad science reporting with bad science commentary, eh?

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NASA: Beam me up some power, Scotty

wheel

Rather confusing title...

While the project is called 'Ride the Light', it doesn't sound like NASA are proposing photonic propulsion at all; they want to transfer electricity to satellites and UAVs.

When they talk of 'space propulsion', they are most likely referring to station keeping for satellites and the like. Conventional thrusters require a fair bit of fuel for reaction mass which increases the size and weight of satellites; ionic thrusters require relatively little reaction mass – thus lighter, cheaper, longer lived satellites – but they do need a lot of electricity to function, which means either really, really big solar panels or nuclear reactors. Solar panels drastically increase drag – which is a problem, particularly for low orbit satellites – and while there have been a few nuclear reactors in orbit (and I'd bet there still are at least a couple of secret military ones) they seem to generate a fair bit of bad PR along with their megawatts. Both solutions are also very heavy.

If you could fire lots of power from a big power station on Earth at the satellite, it could have ionic propulsion without the difficulties of having to be attached to a massive power plant. If you had a good battery which could stand the cold of space, you could do away with any kind of solar, nuclear or radioactive-decay based power; if the satellite went out of view of the big ground laser, the battery would keep it going until it came back in range.

From what I can gather, then, the project is not about photonic propulsion, nor are NASA intending to use lasers to replace rockets. The only thing 'riding the light' would be power.

It's basically a project for a massive extension cable.

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Microsoft bans all plugins from touchable IE10

wheel
Stop

Won't last long

Once Opera and Mozilla produce Metro browsers which works with plugins, people would stop using IE. I can see the tagline: 'Opera: browse the WHOLE web'.

This is one reason why Apple refuses to let other browsers on iOS, but it is unlikely that MS would risk such a move being third/fourth/fifth/twenty-second to market with their tablet OS. Otherwise I can see the tagline: 'Android: browse the WHOLE web'.

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LOHAN to suck mighty thruster as it goes off, in a shed

wheel

Propellant. There seems to be a consensus though.

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Wallabies battle cattle farts

wheel
Headmaster

School daze

Good morning class. Today we are going to look at percentages. A percentage is a fraction – Jones, stop picking your nose and flicking it at Davis – I'm sure he doesn't like it, do you Davis? – Oh, very well, carry on.

So a percentage is like a fraction. To demonstrate, we will take the example of a wallaby and a cow – No, Jones, I did not mean the headmistress.

Suppose a wallaby turns 1% of its food into methane, while the cow turns 10% into methane. The cow produces considerably more methane than the wallaby, but you might expect that because the cow is much bigger and bulkier than the wallaby – Thank you Jones, I am not saying the headmistress is fat. – The pies have nothing to do with it; she has a thyroid condition. – No, Davis does not have a thyroid condition, do you Davis? – Oh, very well, carry on.

So the cow emits more methane because it is bigger and eats more food. But consider a giant wallaby, five times the size of a cow JONES GET DOWN FROM THERE – I did NOT ask you to portray a giant wallaby, merely to consider one. – I am perfectly aware that visual metaphors are a useful reinforcement to the educational process. – So if you are a giant wallaby, where is the cow for comparison? – What was that, Davis? – Oh, very well, carry on.

So, Jones is portraying our giant wallaby – No Jones, not Wallzilla, just an ordinary giant wallaby. – No you cannot breathe fire. – I am aware that methane is flammable but you do not have a lighter. – Give that here! You can't use it anyway: you are a wallaby and lack opposable thumbs. Ha!

Anyway, Jones is a giant wallaby and Davis is now a comparatively small cow, a fifth the size. As Jones is much bigger than Davis we might expect him to emit more methane, around five times as much as the cow. However, because wallabies emit a much lower *percentage* of methane (1% rather than 10%), the giant wallaby would emit 1/10th of a cow of equivalent size. Assuming a normal sized cow emits 1 standard cow unit (SCU) of methane, a cow-sized wallaby would emit 1/10th of an SCU. As Jones is five times the size of Davis – no, Jones, I'm not saying that you are fat – he will emit 5/10ths of an SCU, or around half the methane of the much smaller cow.

COWARD! COWARD! WAKE UP! Have you heard a word I've said? – I mean about percentages! Hold on a minute – JONES, STOP TRYING TO LIGHT DAVIS'S FARTS!

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NASA's nuclear Mars tank arrives at launch site

wheel
Stop

Aargh!

"I don't know how-much radioactive fuel is on-board, but it is probably a know-able number."

But what if it is an un-know-able number? What might that mean for the future of civilization?

I think the public deserve to know whether we know whether the number is know-able or un-know-able. If, indeed, anyone knows.

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Guy spills on girl in weird Huawei tablet teaser

wheel

Doctor!

I'm a little worried that the gentleman's special sauce is blood red. Perhaps medical intervention is in order...

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IAEA: Handling of Fukushima has been exemplary

wheel

Good assumption

"folk can address the message rather than the messenger"

Ok. So your message makes you look like one of the rabid "nuclear is bad and no amount of evidence will convince me otherwise" brigade.

Feel better?

Now, to make sure you enjoy your weekend to the fullest, just take a second to reflect that the worrying caused by the hysteria about the dangers of a nuclear accident – real or projected – have been indicted as being more harmful than the radiation itself. Consider page 21 of this IAEA report on Chernobyl survivors: http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Booklets/Chernobyl/chernobyl.pdf or the reports of vast amounts of salt and iodine tablets being bought after Fukushima: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/fallout-panicbuying-strips-china-stores-of-salt-2244427.html http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-experts-sound-warning-over-iodine-rush-2242614.html . I am sure you will agree that the stress caused to the people of Olkiluoto by those who have a strongly anti-nuclear agenda will likely be much more harmful than the risk of an accident at reactor number three, which has had many delays and budget overruns to *ensure* its safety standards.

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Microsoft becoming Apple with Windows 8 control freakery?

wheel

Tiles look good

I think there is innovation from MS in its use of 'tiles' (not to mention non-Windows innovations like Surface and Kinect).

While I am a lifelong Mac user, I'm not a big fan of iOS, and think that its homescreen UI is starting to look dated. Android-style widgets give much more information at a glance (and that is why we carry smartphones no?), but lead to rather messy home screens. MS's tiles seem to combine the functionality of widgets with the aesthetic uniformity of iOS's icon grid. Surely there is something innovative about that?

Whether the tiles will work quite as well on a desktop OS – where we need to quickly create information content rather than quickly consume it – remains to be seen. Windows 8 does seem to be optimised for touchscreen, with keyboard and mouse as afterthoughts. It is worth noting that keyboard and mouse have survived as desktop implements for 25 years because nobody has come up with a better way of combining high productivity and low entry barrier in an interface.

That doesn't seem to bother MS or Apple, who are now both trying to push elements of their mobile interfaces onto their desktop machines.

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wheel

Once a day?

There must be something wrong with your machine if it is crashing once a day. Mine runs fine for weeks before I reboot it.

Perhaps your RAM is dodgy?

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New Mac scareware variant installs without password

wheel
FAIL

But you don't need to be in Applications anyway...

While obviously delighting those Windows and *nix users who have axes to grind, I'm not sure that this is much of a story.

Sure, you don't have to enter an administrator's password to install it. But you still have to manually go through the installation process. Nobody will install this software without knowing they are installing it.

Furthermore, it would only work with machines in a home environment; any restrictions on user privileges would mess it up. So the only increased risk comes from someone who has access to the machine but not the user password, and who is concerned by viruses. The lesson? Give your kids their own, non-administrator, accounts.

For those who are gloating about the security flaws in Mac OSX, perhaps you should note that this malware will not spy on you, turn your computer into a botnet zombie or try to infect the rest of the world via evil email attachments. No, instead it asks a user for their credit card details, hoping that they will be stupid enough to put them in.

Perhaps this kind of software has started appearing on the Mac because so many idiots who used to use PCs are switching? ;-)

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€1bn handout from the EU targets ambient nagware and robot pets

wheel
Megaphone

Favourite submission

I get the feeling there weren't too many submissions, considering the amount of the payout. They seem to be scraping the barrel with Fabio Massacci (p.87), whose 'submission' seems more like a rant on Have Your Say:

THE COMPUTERS WANT US TO DO THINGS THEIR WAY!!!! WE SHOULD BE DOING THINGS OUR OWN WAY AND THE COMPUTERS SHOULD LET US!!!! THE COMPUTERS DON'T UNDERSTAND US AND THINGS GO WRONG!!!!

Actually, screw that. It's funnier just to write exactly what he has written in block capitals with four exclamation marks after each sentence.

To be fair, he doesn't seem to be applying for funding himself, rather than throwing an idea out there. At least, I hope that's not a funding submission...

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Coder claims logs show WebOS netbook in pipe

wheel
Headmaster

Pedantic? Moi?

Not at all. But I do love the image of water flying under a bridge.

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DIY kit computer goes Forth against Braben's RaspberryPi

wheel

Nobody will be put off anything.

Pretty much everybody who was a child in the 80s first learned to program on BASIC or LOGO. I learned both. Then FORTRAN and MODULA2.

Each is useful in its own way, for its own purpose. BASIC has a very low entry requirement for English speakers, and is as unstructured as machine code. LOGO was a good introduction to procedural programming and had powerful graphics capabilities in the day. MODULA2 was, in retrospect, less useful, but it did introduce me to the idea of black box libraries. And some people, apparently, like FORTRAN.

BASIC and LOGO are both accessible, and, for new users, accessibility – and immediacy – is very important. This is why so many people programmed their computers in the 80s: when you booted up you had an accessible language, and you booted into a programming environment. If you typed 'PRINT "Hello World!"' you saw the output right there. No compiling, no './program_name': it was immediate. (The excellent paper manuals which came with the likes of the ZX Spectrum may have helped, too.)

When we were starting out, we didn't care about variable typing, class inheritance or code structure. Why should we impose barriers on our children?

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Duke Nukem Forever DELAYED

wheel

US vs International

Anyone else notice that, while the old schedule had the US release 3 days before the international release (3 May vs 6 May), the international release will now come first (10 June vs 14 June for the US)? Might game rating issues be behind this delay?

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Ecstasy doesn't make rave-goers any stupider - official

wheel

Quite.

Agreed. Frankly, the only real difference is that a psychiatrist has a medical degree. So Dr Halpern holds an MD (UK equivalent MB ChB) from a medical school rather than a BS (UK BSc) from a science faculty. A psychologist is more likely to have a BS from a science faculty. (Note that an MD is not a doctorate level degree, either, which most researching psychologists would be expected to hold.) So he is arguably less of a scientist than a psychologist would be.

If El Reg is going to denigrate soft scientists, you should at least do it properly.

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Plane crash kills 'series of tubes' Senator Ted Stevens

wheel
Joke

Agreement?

Has the tech community reached agreement on how to pronounce 'router'? Why wasn't I informed?

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Conficker's 6m strong botnet confounds security probes

wheel
Grenade

Not a squid.

There's no problem with a damp squid. That's the way they're supposed to be.

A squib, however, is a small firework (or explosive) which you have to keep dry. If you don't, it's a real anticlimax. It goes off like a damp squib.

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Apple as a religion: How the iPhone became divine

wheel

Different religions

As a long time Mac user with an Android phone, I tend to agree.

It is, however, interesting to note that the evangelism of the Mac community fifteen years ago (yes, I'm a LONG TIME Mac user) was based upon entirely different circumstances to the current iPhone zealots. System 7.1 was, from a purely objective angle, much more stable and far easier to use than Windows 95, let alone 3.1, and those of us who had 'seen the light' wanted to 'spread the word'. In non-religious terminology, the old Mac fanbois wanted to show their friends that there was a superior alternative to the ubiquitous Microsoft-based PC. In return, Apple acknowledged that customer support was the company's biggest asset.

The modern iPhone fans are in an entirely different situation. The iPhone is pretty universally regarded as the best general use smartphone on the market, and has a massive market share. The way that Apple controls the platform, however, is very worrying, and runs against the "our customers are our biggest asset" attitude of old Apple. While some aspects of the model are defensible – the monopolistic App Store which enables quality control; Apple's refusal to allow apps to use geolocation purely for advertising purposes – others are clearly not – the rejection of apps because they 'replicate functionality'; the refusal to allow apps to use geolocation for adverts UNLESS Apple's own iAd advertising services are being used.

The curious difference between the former and latter religions is that the old Mac lot wanted to show the world that there was something better, while the new iPhone lot want to deny that there is anything wrong with the product at all. There is no holy war yet, but if Apple tries to apply the iPhone business model onto the Mac platform, the old Mac evangelists will break from the church and seek refuge in... the synagogue of Ubuntu, perhaps.

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UK's Zephyr robo sun-plane in record-buster 2-week flight

wheel
Thumb Down

Would be true...

... but it flies at 60000 feet. Not many clouds or much wind up there. Sorry.

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Bubble-baron Bigelow bags Boeing boosters

wheel
Alien

Family market

So, looking at the illustration on page two, this capsule is designed for 6 adults and one child. Are Boeing trying to break into the family market here?

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Secret sub tech hints at spooks' TEMPEST-busting bugs

wheel
Boffin

Faraday cage

Hmmm...

I seem to remember that the point of a Faraday cage is that potential is equal at all points on the surface, so an externally varying potential (e.g. an electromagnetic wave) cannot be observed within it. Practically, Faraday cages have limitations based on the conductivity of the material they are made from and any gaps within (around doors, for instance).

But if this thingy can penetrate a Faraday cage electromagnetically (by using a particular selection of frequencies, for instance), that doesn't stop somebody from making a better Faraday cage. Preferably one that uses superconductors.

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Russian spy ring bust uncovers tech toolkit

wheel
Thumb Up

Divorced

The BBC reported her as being a divorcée. She didn't seem to be trying not to be Russian; her facebook name "chapmanania" suggests that Anna is just an anglicised version of Anna. She also posts in Russian quite a lot.

If her cover for being a Russian spy is being a Russian who isn't a spy...

Though the Beeb also said that none of the 'deep cover agents' have been charged with spying. They've been charged with being unregistered representatives of a foreign government. It's like James Bond meets The Office.

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