* Posts by Tim Robson

33 posts • joined 18 May 2007

Fat Reg slims down for spanking new mobile phone version

Tim Robson

iPhone App Features

Few different things that might be nice and/or useful:

1. Have the first page loaded be selectable- let the user choose if they want the main page, or one of the sub-sections, to be the first thing they see.

2. Have a link to the BOfH archives, or even a dedicated section. Also, being able to cycle to the next (and previous) article without going back to the main page for each archive would be quite nice, especially on a limited-bandwidth connection.

3. A "Comment randomly" button.

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Windows 7 busts the 3 per cent share barrier

Tim Robson

Market Share

I'd wadger this survey is of people browsing the web with those machines, not of all machines on the web. That means that Linux likely has a bit higher market share than what is listed, since a number of web servers run on Linux variants rather than Windows Server.

On the other hand, in biologic terms, Linux is still a mutation in the user market- it needs to cross the 1% threshold to be considered an allele instead of a mutation, if my memory of my years ago Biology classes serve correctly.

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Dallas cops fine drivers for 'not speaking English'

Tim Robson

Re: Learn the language

Just because you don't speak the primary language of a country does not mean you are an illegal immigrant. Green cards are issued to let you live and work for an extended period, and don't require you to have a significant command of English. Also, if you become a citizen with certain requirements (50 yrs old and living in the states legally for 20 or 55 yrs old and living in the states legally for 15) you can have the English requirement waived.

On the other hand, learning the dominant language of a country you live in, at least well enough to be understood and to understand people, is typically a good idea.

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Doc-in-chief targets 'passive drinking' with price hike

Tim Robson
Stop

Is that all?

So, doctors recommended that the average adult drinks 1-3 glasses of wine daily (depending on sex, height, weight, etc). That works out to around 700 drinks a year, assuming you're going for just under two on your average day, or assuming that Monday-Thursday you're drinking one, and Friday-Sunday you're drinking three. A typical bottle of wine (750 ml) holds about 5 glasses worth of booze. So, that means that the average person in the Uk is getting in ~600 glasses a year. Surely this head doctor should be calling for an overall increase in consumption, in order to get to the suggested serving?

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US Navy SEAL uniforms: Now with built-in tourniquets

Tim Robson

Intravenous drug use

While this technology might sound great for a needle drug user, there is one possible problem: How easy is it to undo the tourniquet mode? I mean, it just says to pull and it becomes a tourniquet, so, since it's a pure constriction deal, and it's likely designed to not come off easily, which is part of what they want, making me think this might be slightly problematic for them.

For law enforcement, I could see SWAT teams getting them, definitely, but regular police officers might not be the fastest to pick them up. Expense alone would likely dictate that the average cop on the corner (sitting in his temperature controlled car, of course) won't be seeing these any time soon.

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Tech gadgetry brings about pet-o-geddon

Tim Robson
Dead Vulture

What, no "neglect invalidates this policy" clause in the insurance?

"The dastardly iPod was responsible for most injuries in reptiles and cats"

How the hell is an iPod directly responsible for any sort of injury? Are the things falling and squishing tiny little reptiles? Are there geckos hanging onto the side of them when they fall off the owner's belt and swing around by the earbud cable directly into a wall?

Most of the stuff on there I can see happening, either due to an owners irresponsibility (anything involving a fan and a small, normally caged animal) or due to the animal wanting to be a part of the family playing (such as getting stepped on while using a Wii), but the iPod one baffles me some.

Tombstone, because, well....

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US satellite returns first hi-res snap

Tim Robson
Stop

@Get some perspective

"To make any kind of detail at all of a person or to read a car licence plate you'd need say 1cm resolution. And that is never going to happen via satellite!"

Surely you mean "And that isn't going to happen in the next few years via satellite, at least for public consumption." I'd be shocked if some spy sat up there didn't have that kind of resolution already. Given that the US had the ability to accurately determine the brand of cigarettes in a shirt pocket from the pictures taken by an SR-71 Blackbird back in the early 60s, in 40 years, the likelihood of someone not coming up with a spy satellite to replace that same resolution is pretty low.

And really, "never going to happen"? Imagine if the same technologies used in creating the Hubble telescope were put into use looking down, plus improvements in the field since then.

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DARPA seeks ultrasonic auto-scab tourniquets

Tim Robson

Civilian applications

Ok, so, this has great potential in military use. Definitely a good place to do the initial research, and to get it working.

But what about civilian usage, too? Think about it. Every construction site should have certain first aid kit components on hand to staunch significant bleeding and such, so why not have one of these? Expensive, probably, but realistically, if you're in a high risk environment, it could be the difference between life and death, or keeping that arm or not. Any environment where you run a significant risk of losing a limb if something goes wrong, it would be worth having one. Just having one in 50 being used would make it worthwhile in most people's minds. Hell, loggers would love these things, as would anyone in a remote area.

How about on ambulances? How many people die or lose a limb because you can't staunch bleeding in time? Gunshot wounds? Knife injuries (Accidental and otherwise)?

If these pan out, I might just fork over the extra cash to keep one in my medical kit for when I go camping. (In case you're wondering, my definition of camping involves being so far past civilization that cell phones tend to have been completely non-functional for the last twenty+ miles and the likelihood of someone hurt getting any kind of speedy rescue is effectively nil)

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Stob latest: It was a cunning trick, says Open University

Tim Robson

Not all distance learning is crap

It just depends on where you go. The Uni I just graduated from offers a remote Masters program in CS, and from talking with some folks that run the distance learning programs, and knowing that the school lavishes resources on its technical side, I would see it as being a good program.

Having said that, you get what you pay for. It's a US based school, and expensive on top of it. Average private undergrad is under $24,000/year. (Source: http://www.collegeboard.com/student/pay/add-it-up/4494.html ) This place, I was paying $28,000 just for tuition. It is more expensive, sometimes significantly so. They charge extortionate rates, but you learn a lot from them.

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Blockbuster: DVD to Blu-ray shift slower than VHS to DVD

Tim Robson
Boffin

No solid, tangible reason to upgrade

I've been an early adopter on several technologies. Failing that, I try to situate myself at just behind them. I recently moved, and I'm in a position to get an entirely new entertainment center. I bought a middle-def 36" TV, (720 instead of 1080) because I got it for a good price and, as of yet, the only device I have that can output even that high of resolution is the laptop I brought with me.

I'm currently looking at two offerings for the rest of the home entertainment center in one bundle- 5.1 surround sound and the DVD player. I can either spend around $420 on a 5 disk DVD changer, with a 1200 Watt system and two full height speakers, or I can spend around $700 on a 1 disk Blue-ray player, with a 1000 watt system with no full height speakers, all of them are the small half a foot high variety.

Blue ray might've been a viable option for me at this stage, but the price doesn't justify it. $300 more for a combo that plays less disks and comes with a worse sound system is not my idea of a good buy. If it was the same price, and the sound system was the same, then I might swap the 5 DVD changer for blue ray, just so I don't have to upgrade, but...that's still a "might".

I've also seen Blue-ray on a friend's entirely HD setup, and, yes, I can tell the difference. The thing is, I just don't care enough about the difference between the two for most things, certainly not enough to shell out the extra $300 for an inferior overall system. I'll care more about the sound quality than about the color clarity of the DVD image.

Odds are, I'm probably going to move to a streaming setup- have a server machine sitting in another room, offering up gobs of space, and have a small media center (be it an XBox 360 or a custom built computer) sitting in the living room, hooked up to the TV. Why? Because if I can sit still and let the computer just load up the movie, I'm going to prefer that over getting up, finding the disk, finding the case for the disk I invariably left in the drive, putting it back, hoping everything's organized...it's easier by far to have a computer storing everything.

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Comcast reveals it is protocol agnostic

Tim Robson
Stop

Do they notify those customers that go over their limits?

So, if you go over twice in six months, you get suspended. Do they notify you the first time? If not, how can you be expected to change those downloading habits?

From the way they describe it in the article, since they're assigning a lower priority to your data if you get throttled, it seems that the only time you should notice any change is during high network demand- if you're the only person using it, you get all your connection can support, but if you're one of a few thousand, you get pushed down a little in the queue so that granny can actually see those pictures of her grandkids in a reasonable amount of time, because your porn collection is always increasing in size, you can afford to have a slightly slower connection during that time.

The warning seems important to me, as a Comcast customer- I'm the sort that I'll use my net connection for a month or two for little more than updates and basic web browsing, then I'll decide I want to get the entire series of <insert not yet on DVD TV show here>, which suddenly spikes my net usage. Hell, I've even been known to download shows/movies that I own on DVD just to have them on an external hard drive, instead of having to worry about the scratches. Makes traveling with it a heck of a lot easier, and most of my friends and family don't have big enough screens to notice the difference.

Heck, will I even get a warning when I approach that limit? Say, at 150 or 200 GB?

If it's done in a manner that makes it clear to the customer what's happening, I'm OK with it. I just want to know if I'm approaching any limits or similar.

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Wall Street shudders under Lehman collapse

Tim Robson
Stop

Mortgages

Damn, there goes any hope of my buying a house in the next few years. Oh well, guess this means I'm stuck renting for a while.

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OMFG, what have you done?

Tim Robson
Boffin

Look and feel

I like some of the changes, dislike others. Here's my logic for both, and what I would be interested in seeing.

Fixed Width: A bit frustrating, to be honest. I'm running at 1600 width, and I get about the center 50% of my screen with valid, usable text. Otherwise, it's devoted to two gray bars on either side of this used space. I'm fine with a cleaner look; in fact, this is growing on me a bit. However, might it be a better idea to stay with variable width, but just use percentage based widths? IE, 10-15% on either side is devoted to gray, with the rest being usable space? Still gives you a cleaner look, but allows more flexibility.

Front page: I like the headliner story method. The top one works great, very eye catching, gives a bit more detail. The two below a little bit seem out of place, but can work. They break up the flow, which could be a bad thing- might be a bit more useful to stick it straight under the first banner one, but that's definitely a stylistic choice. The banner space used on the right for ads and editorials is fairly nicely laid out, useful without being busy. The only real solid change I'd be interested in is (and I understand the complexity involved in this request) more stories to a line. having four stories to a line across instead of three would greatly help with how far the page needs to be scrolled to get to everything. However, the drawback is that those on smaller screens might not appreciate having to scroll left and right to see all the stories and the editorial lines. Would probably have to be dynamic, which could be a pain in the ass to recode.

Article page: Overall, no complaints. Still not the happiest about fixed width, but that's probably largely because my machine is running a very high resolution. The changes to the comments section are a bit of a mixed bag to me, partly missing the first little tag line of the comments, part of me being fairly amused at the new icons. I do like being able to see all the comments while writing mine; makes it easier to write replies.

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Northrop offer supersonic robot stealth raygun cyber-bomber

Tim Robson
Flame

@Flying Carrier

It doesn't sound like a flying carrier. Nowhere does it mention anything about this drone deploying them, merely controlling them. Instead, it sounds like a bastard child (and next generation of) an AWACS (command and control), a Stealth bomber (sneaky), a Predator Drone (autonomous and with loitering capacity), and a Spectre gunship (airborne artillery). Mash all of those together, make it all actually modern tech and at least one iteration newer than those listed, and add in the whole "IT warfare" aspect, and you seem to have this platform.

Will it work? Maybe. The problem is that it'll have to be fairly big to fit all of that and the power generation kit needed for it. Especially if the first iteration is intended to be manned. Stealth technology has come a long, long way in the last few decades, but so has detection technology, and stealth works better when it's not trying to disguise something the size of a house flying around the sky. When one of your requirements is "don't be seen", bigger is not always better.

Might actually be better to design two or three main drone frameworks that can be modified for the task, such as ones meant to take of the role of a predator or reaper, ones meant to be command and control nodes, and ones meant for IT warfare. Then you can keep the size down, cover a bigger area, and field exactly what you need into an area. You might need 10 of these things for the firepower, 5 for IT warfare, but only 2 for the C&C side. Which is better, fielding 10 of them at the price for all that hardware, or fielding 17 of them for the price of one component set each? In addition, if you make them sufficiently modular, it's conceivable that you could ship over a bunch of the frames to the area, and a bunch of the modules with it, and then just pair them up as needed, and reconfigure them as needed. Would also make repairs easier- when several systems fail in the C&C module, just rip it out, shove a new one in, and put the drone back up, THEN worry about the systems that failed.

I think we really need a military icon of some kind, even if it would really only get use around Mr. Page's articles.

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Aussie school trials use of gadgets in exams

Tim Robson
Thumb Up

Open-Google Tests

I just finished college (US degree- a Bachelor's program) and had a few classes that had open-Google tests. I did well with those- but they were pretty much always structured such that you HAD to think on your own. Yeah, I access to reference material, but I had to actually convince the professor that it was my own work and my own words. It definitely did help bridge the gap between rote memorization and application just a formula or such and being able to pull information you don't have memorized together.

Some things are realistic to want memorized, such as how to configure your computer and network sufficiently to be able to get to the web, but other things were obscure enough that I don't remember how to do them after passing them on the test- but I DO know how to find the information I need. At least at my school, the average technical student was taught how to perform the tasks on the conceptual level, and a few specific implementations. Beyond that, we were expected to use every reference material we could get our hands on, be it Google or a book.

Personally, I felt that open tests like the sort described tended to do a far better job of letting me show what I had learned in the course than a lot of other exams, which frequently were multiple choice or short answer of a memorized problem/solution.

In a business environment, which is usually more valuable to a company: someone who learns the specific tasks that are needed on a daily basis easily, and can use reference material when needed, or someone who can do a certain set of tasks extremely well, but needs a lot more time and hand holding to get up to speed on anything else? I've definitely noticed that a lot of companies I was interviewing with wanted someone who could use reference material more.

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US man cuffed for executing lawnmower

Tim Robson
Flame

Re: lots of people

@Jesse, RE: Right to bear arms

No, states and cities cannot infringe on the constitution. That's the point- it's the code everyone is supposed to work within. There are means for revising it, but every jurisdiction beneath it must stay within the boundaries it sets forth.

That means that technically, you can challenge any law set forth by any jurisdiction in the US, be it Federal, State, County, or City, as unconstitutional, and win. You just have to be able to prove that it is, and be willing to fight for it.

@Yes, he was stupid

"(4) i am curious as to what they were doing in his house and why they would have stolen/confiscated other property legally owned there. Illegal search and seizure comes to mind."

They probably went into his house on a search warrant, on the grounds that since he had used one illegal weapon, what if he had more?

@Dan Paul: @Kimo 50%=F

"I hate to correct you but one of the major reasons why we here in the USA HAVE the 2nd Amendment is to prevent the existing government from taking away our other rights. Kind of tough to do now with only SEMI-AUTOMATIC weapons and no privately owned functioning tanks (sigh, we'll figure something out soon)"

I know at least one guy with a functioning tank. Main gun works, too. Admittedly, it's a WWII antique, but the thing works fine, and according to NY State law, (where he has said tank) he can actually legally purchase ammunition for it and fire it...provided the ammo is incendiary, making it a giant flare gun.

Personally, i think he deserved what he got- if not more. I don't like extensive restrictions on what you can own, but there are some categories that have only one purpose, that being anti-personnel. A pistol you can take to the range and do target shooting with, but a sawed-off doesn't really add anything to the experience at the range that a regular shotgun wouldn't work for.

One other thing people overlook with the recent Supreme Court ruling: it says you can't be stopped from owning pistols with a blanket prohibition. However, it DOES say that you can be stopped for other reasons, such as criminal record or mental illness. In addition, it says that you can be required to submit information to own a gun, such as fingerprints, and that you can be required to register all guns with the government. States currently have a mix of rules on this, some (such as NY) requiring a permit to even own pistols, and making you jump through references and other hoops to get it, while in others, such as Florida, you can own damn near anything you want, it seems, so long as it's not prohibited at the federal level. Even getting a carry-conceal for a pistol is as simple as giving them your finger prints and a small fee that covers your criminal records check and your mental health background check.

"Less guns = less gun crime (FACT)"

That only works in an area that does not have guns. Somewhere like the US, where we already have plenty of guns around, that will fail because the criminals already have access to the guns. In most US jurisdictions that introduce more lenient gun laws, (at least those that I've seen records for) the violent crime rates, in particular for gun crime, tend to drop. Why? Well, that's because the police aren't there to protect in most cases, they're there to clean up afterwards. Hell, lots of them will admit this, especially in most Criminal Justice classes.

What's going to stop more crime: no legal guns on people, and lots of cops who get there too late, or legal guns on 1 out of every 10 people, and lots of cops who get there too late?

Flame because I know people are going to hit me for this one.

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Global warming to stone US kidneys

Tim Robson

North compared to South

Having driven through part of the south, (half at night, straight line, bad representation of the people) now living in a very different part of south, (So. Florida, which is very different culturally than the rest of the south) and having spent most of my life as a "damn Yankee", I can say that I have seen more overweight people up north. I'm not saying people down here seem healthier; I'm saying they aren't as overweight as a general whole from my observations.

Having said that, there are things the North makes up for this with: Higher overall education. People up there, in general, seem smarter and more adaptable to changing situations, and also a bit less snobby, overall. I don't know, maybe the harsher weather forces you to adjust outside of your little bubble of self-indulgence. This is not to say that there aren't snobs up there; I've met more than a few. It just seems like the general attitude regarding random people up there isn't as much of "I'm better than everyone just because".

Also, the North has a much more special place in my heart because they've got more microbreweries and wineries around. (Of course, I'm from the Finger Lakes region of NY, so that may have something to do with my perception of that.)

@ AC: Wow human beings are really ignorant:

Spring water: Water bottled out of town. Look up the location that the stuff she's drinking is bottled- in most cases, it's actually bottled either relatively locally, or it's bottled in the middle of a suburban area, rather than the rural, idyllic paradise that is conjured up by the name on the label.

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File system killer Reiser rejected 3-year sentence

Tim Robson

Death Penalty

In general, death penalty in the US, while it gets a lot of attention, is very rarely used. Most people on death row are effectively serving life sentences with extra appeals. Because of the rather permanent nature of the death penalty, the system makes you go through a number of appeals automatically, above and beyond the normal number granted to a person serving a life sentence, and they are pushed through at a higher speed. This means that, because of the cost of a trial vs the cost of holding someone in jail indefinitely, a life sentence without parole is actually cheaper for the state than the death penalty.

Most states also have pretty strict limitations on how the death penalty can be applied, most of the time requiring Murder 1 and extenuating circumstances. (Ex, torture, rape, murder, all premeditated, would justify DP in most states that have it) It's something that varies a little bit state by state, and I'm not certain on California's rules regarding it, but he may not have even been eligible for it.

Oh, and as for giving up his right to appeal, in certain circumstances, such as leading them to her body as part of the plea, then yes, that is something that should be built into the plea bargain. If they were simply going for a bargain for a shorter sentence, and not really doing much more, then it turns into a gray zone. Plea bargains are often negotiation based, so you can go back and forth on some things- in a case where he's already been judged guilty, he needs to have something to offer them.

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NASA bites nails over Phoenix landing

Tim Robson
Alien

Re: ImaGnuber

Read the article posted. Not that big a worry, in part because of the comment posted by Miami Mike, and in part because of other little parts that are flawed in there.

For example, we routinely push radio signals into space. However, because of diminishing returns, we know that it requires an absolutely enormous amount of energy to push a signal to the range that would be necessary to require it as "proof", if such a thing can be proved, that there exists no other civilization capable of space travel than our own.

In addition to that, we also know that if you focus a signal, then it gets to its destination with lower power requirements for the sender- I don't need the same kind of power for a directional beam to go ten miles that I do for an omnidirectional signal to go ten miles. So, wouldn't it make sense for most communication to be relatively narrow band signals from one solar system to the next? And therefore, wouldn't us picking up those signals require that we also be in the path of those narrow band signals?

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Washington cops may be compelled to use gun-cams

Tim Robson

Rules of Engagement

Well, in some case, yes, it will give enough information.

For example, if they're inside of 21 feet, with a lethal weapon, and coming towards you, you draw and shoot. Also, say I decide to just kill someone for no good reason, and draw my gun to shoot them when they're down- surprise, it's on camera. Seems to me that in either of those situations, that's better than no information.

The downside is, that, well, you don't catch what's said before it. You don't know if the cop was trying to bait that guy into attacking him.

Some departments, if I recall from my Technology in CJ class correctly, are looking into a new storage method for squad car cameras- instead of always on, which consumes memory in a hurry, you can use a higher resolution camera (to make it more useful footage) and have it streaming a 1 minute loop, which, the moment anyone in your department flips on their lights, every car in the department saves and continues saving from then on. This gives a three-fold advantage over normal systems: you have way less data to trudge through, you get some lead time before the issue has become prominent, and you get better quality video without worrying about increased space issues.

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Nintendo Wii 'like a virus', games boss sniffs

Tim Robson

Wii Purpose

The thing that some people have not noticed is what the Wii is intended to do, and is blatant in all the advertising I've seen: Be a party system.

People are complaining it doesn't have RPGs or good FPS games- but the question is, what makes a better party game, the latest Final Fantasy game or something like Rayman's Raving Rabbids?

There are exceptions to the rule, in terms of games released- Mario Galaxy, for example. But in general, the system's primary goal is to be the system that everyone will play and have a bit of fun with when you have a handful of people over. There are also stumbling blocks to this for a lot of people- the system is cheap, but getting four Wii-motes with the Nunchuk's adds up in a hurry. Last I looked, you're looking at about $50 USD for a full Wii-mote/Nunchuk combo. The system comes with one, but if you want a full rig, you're looking at the system price plus another $150 USD, plus any games you get, yeah, I can start seeing why people don't buy as many games for a system they're primarily going to use only when they have a few guests over.

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Laptop vendors burned in battery plant blaze

Tim Robson

Re: Lithium ion Cells Are Dangerous

Ok, so, your "source" cites one PHD and another news article, but doesn't say what their reasoning is on why they're dangerous, nor how to re-engineer them.

Here's a tip: You place a lot of potential energy in a small package, and then you do something to disturb said potential energy, you should expect that energy to be released. For example, take a nuclear reactor. If used properly, it can produce oodles of energy. However, if you were to abuse the nuclear pile, drop it, kick it around like so many people do to cell phones, exactly how long do you think it would take before that reactive mass manages to go critical?

It's owning a car: The worse care you take of it, the more likely it's going to fail, either spontaneously or when placed into some high-stress situation.

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Google mounts Chewbacca defense in EU privacy debate

Tim Robson
Boffin

@ Dynamic IPs

>>IP addresses don't change these days. As stated in other comments, if you have 24x7 connection then it retains the IP address. Even when the address ages, well before expiry the server checks to see if the client still requires the address. If so, the lease is renewed, and NO OTHER NODE EVEN GETS A LOOK IN. Therefore, you could keep the same address for years. Hell, depending on the lease period set by the ISP, this can even happen on dialup, assuming the user signs on with sufficient frequency to respond affirmatively to the renewal requests.

Not entirely true. There is a packet called a DHCP release packet which a client sends to the server to relinquish the IP and cancel the remaining lease time. So, for Dial-up, part of the disconnect process involved the computer at the other end of the phone line sending a message saying that it no longer needed that address.

In addition, it is possible for a provider to temporarily blacklist an IP address just to keep people from having a truly static IP. For example, my old cable modem used to do this every three months- knowing what I know now, the provider seemed to just toss a handful of addresses onto its exclusion list every now and then, effectively forcing those connections that corresponded to the exclusion list to get new addresses when their leases expired. To balance this, all they would have to do is pull the ones that were on the exclusion list before when they put the new ones on.

Voila, you're forced to get a new address every so often.

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Home Sec: Tasers could become standard police kit

Tim Robson
Alert

Tazer PVR

There are actually some districts in the US that are carrying a taser that has been modified to have a digital video recorder, as well as recording the number of times discharged and timestamps, to match with the video. As soon as the taser clears the holster, the recorder kicks on. You don't get the footage of just before the taser is drawn, but from the instant that it is drawn until it is secured back in the holster again, you have a video tape and a log of everything that taser does.

Same idea used in how a some US police departments handle their car cameras. Instead of hours of meaningless footage, they simply record a one minute loop, that, when the sirens go on, or when activated by their home office, gets dumped to permanent storage, along with everything that follows, until a certain time limit (which varies) AFTER the sirens and such go off. The big difference is that the car mounted ones actually have useful details from shortly before the problem starts, while the taser only gets from when it is drawn.

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NASA delays decision over Shuttle repair

Tim Robson

@Repairs...

As for the astromech droid idea, it sounds good, except for one small flaw: Speed of light latency. If there was any step that was time sensitive, that extra delay could be very bad.

On the other hand, if you used them with said specialists on the space station, simply inside and controlling the droids doing the work outside, that could be workable.

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USAF seeks control of aerial kill-bots

Tim Robson

Stealth

@Morely Dotes: So, what about the F-117A or the B-2 stealth platforms? Admittedly, neither is designed for any kind of air-air combat, but both are relatively tough to hit, by virtue of their low visibility, and have proven effective at slipping in and the enemy's first indication they got there is the target going "boom". It's only a matter of time before someone defeats that protection level, but even so, it does represent a significant advantage for the mean time, and who's to say that it can't be built on?

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75-year-old has world's fastest private internet connection

Tim Robson

Connection type

It says that it's connected to her house via Fiber. Odds are she's hooked directly into that via her computer, or she's hooked into that via another type of fiber optic link from a router of some kind, with other ports for when he drops in and wants to host his Battlefield server. Only way I can see to give any validity to that kind of connection rate.

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Bletchley Park opens computing museum

Tim Robson

US version

The NSA over here runs a similar museum, the National Cryptological Museum. I stopped in there a few months ago on a visit to the DC area, it's got some really cool stuff, including an Enigma machine you can sit down and play with, goof around with messages and exchange them with people, etc.

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Women prefer well-built blokes: official

Tim Robson

Personal experience

From watching friends, and from personal experience, I can attest that attitude is far more important. from honest, actual feedback from several women, (albeit in the 18-25 range) including one I am now engaged to, it seems that many women aren't fond of six-packs and rippling ab muscles, at least in a relationship. Why?

One, they aren't as fond of the look as they are of a simply smooth, toned stomach. Second, a little fat on your abdomen is healthier- having 4% body fat is actually considered to be a dangerous, so as long as it's not to a point of being morbidly obese. Third, they like the feel more. While having rock solid abs is impressive to them, and demonstrates a certain level of physical fitness they like, they want some fat there so that if they're cuddling or laying their head there they have some cushioning between them and the steel that is the well developed muscle. Fourth, having an incredibly cut, muscle bound physique means that you have to spend a fair bit of time maintaining that look. Do you really think they want a long term relationship with someone that's going to have to devote time to that process, in addition to the time they have to devote to work, and time for whatever else they do, and lose the time that they may spend with their significant others, or, down the line, kids?

And no, these opinions have not been given to me because I'm insecure about my current build. I'm one of the group that has rock hard, but slightly covered, abs. If I tense it, you can actually see the muscle defining itself past the fat. However, I've been told (by my fiance' and several good female friends (not that sort, you dirty minded people)) that I am, under no circumstances, to deliberately try to lose that fat.

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Son of Star Wars test aborted

Tim Robson

A few points being consistently missed here....

First, Kurt is partially right. The clear weather is partly for the fact that they want to be able to record the test in as many ways as possible. The second part of the need for clear weather is that the target vehicle, the ICBM mock-up, needs clearer weather for launch- even retrofitted, it's pretty damned old. The weapons system, however, does not require clear weather for it to do what it is designed to do.

Second, the Boeing Airborne laser is coming online soon- but it is a Theatre weapon. Yes, it will likely be very damned effective at knocking down any ICBM it can hit during boost phase. The thing is, it needs to be actually nearby to hit the damn thing. That means that one of those airplanes flying around, say, just off the coast of California, won't be able to do anything about a missile launched from anywhere on the other side of the Pacific, no matter where it is targetted. The ICBM could fly literally directly over the Boeing during the exo-atmosphere stage, and the plane won't be able to intervene at all. This system, however, may be able to.

Third, the system may not be the most reliable. Or the system may have to deal with an extremely large number of targets. Layered defense is the best option, which means that the US wants hardened emplacements out in every friendly country it can, as well as ship-based weapon systems, because that way you DO get a lot of shots off. As for whether or not this is a good way to set up said layered defense, that is open to debate.

Which would you rather trust: One missile battery, with, say, a 90% kill ratio against a single target, (which is phenomenal given the task involved) or a hundred of those missile batteries, each with a 90% kill ratio, giving a few millionths of a percent chance that the target will make it through? So, one chance in 10 that you get nuked, or one chance in a few billion?

Yes, the system will have flaws. That's the point of multiple systems- you have one that will take out ICBMs, which go out of the atmosphere, one that takes down theatre threats, such as SCUDs, which do not leave the atmosphere, etc, etc. It's like building a house: You don't try to use a hammer for everything. You use the hammer to drive nails, you use a saw to cut wood, etc, etc.

Build a single tool to do a single job, and you can specialize that tool to be incredibly effective at it. Build a single tool to do 10 semi-related jobs, and that tool, while capable of doing a lot, isn't as good at one thing as the tool that specializes in doing that one thing.

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Linux fans go nuclear over Microsoft's patent teasing

Tim Robson

Open Door policy

Now, I am not aware of any rulings inside New York state specifically relating to unsecured wifi, but I do know that New York has what is known as an "open door" law- basically, if my front door is wide open, people can walk in. This is useful for a variety of good samaritan reasons, such as suspicious noises in the house, and making sure people are alright, but it could, by a saavy lawyer, be extended to unsecured wifi systems.

It already means that, if I walk on someone's property, and there are no visible "Posted: Keep out" signs, I cannot be legally held responsible for simply walking there. I can be held accountable for actions taken there that would normally be illegal on their own, but I cannot be charged with trespassing if it is not posted.

Now, if this guy was doing something else while online that isn't mentioned, like downloading, say, kiddy porn, (Something law enforcement takes an extremely dim view of) he could get completely reamed for it. If, on the other hand, he simply connected and did things like check The Register, then, well....there is no legal basis for it that I know of.

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Greek cops to paintball rioting fans

Tim Robson

Less than Lethal

Paintballs are nothing new for police. Hell, they're much less lethal than some of the toys that have been cooked up as less lethal submission weapons. What say we look at a few, shall we?

Option 1: Blunt melee weapon (Baton, riot shield, etc)

Good for close range, but, here in the states, at least, a suspect with a lethal weapon (which includes a pocket knife) within 21 feet suddenly becomes a suspect that has a nice, big, "Lethal force authorized" printed on his forehead, and a target painted on his chest. Head hits can kill or cause permanent damage, and if you swing fairly hard, it's not that tough to break bones.

Option 2: Tazer/stun gun

Again, good for close range, but these tend to have a limited range- under 20 feet in a lot of cases. See above for why that's a bad idea. Also, there is a slight risk of killing the target if they have certain medical conditions, or if they have a LOT of alcohol in them. (There was a case of one guy's hair bursting into flames when tazed. Happened a year or two back, in Florida, if memory serves)

Option 3: Pepper spray

Good try, but also within the 21 foot range. Also not effective on everyone- Some people drop like a stone when hit, others simply get more pissed off.

Option 4: Alternative shotgun ammuniation

This works pretty well. Types range from wooden dowels, to "super sock" rounds that are kevlar wrapped lead shot, some of which have tails for improved accuracy. They tend to be effective at longer ranges, some having consistent results at 45 yards. The downside is, that, well, head shots still carry substantial damage potential, and that inside of 20 feet it becomes a lethal grade projectile. (Of course, that's inside the 21 foot lethal force range, so no need to change ammo, with the added benefit that the target has a higher chance to survive it) The other advantage to this type is that it still functions like a regular shotgun- which makes it a fairly easy to use, reliable weapon. Even if the pain doesn't stop a target, the simple force of the round slamming into them tends to at least make them struggle for balance, if not knock them flat on their ass.

Option 5: Paintballs/Pepper balls

This is what's noted in the article. Upshot of these is that the pepperball vareity gives an added incentive to a target to cease and desist, while paintballs mark the targets. Downside is that you end up with some accuracy issues, (barrels can be rifled, which helps, but still not anywhere near as accurate as a firearm) especially as range extends, wind affects the rounds to an extreme, and that they still have fairly limited range. You also end up with danger from hearshots, both from blunt force (temple shot at fairly close range would not be pleasant, but shouldn't kill) and from the contents spraying into someone's eyes.

This is neglecting full riot control options, such as tear gas canisters and firehoses, but is fairly accurate for what is available to the average law enforcement officer over here, should their departments decide it worth the money to issue them.

Those people upset about it should be glad that they chose paintballs instead of shotguns.

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Gates predicts death of the office phone

Tim Robson

How many phones can fit on the head of a pin

I don't foresee this happening anytime soon, at least not in the US.

Why? Simple: redundancy.

I worked in the telecommunications dept of a multinational corporation, specifically working with the branches that are stateside. They had between 100 and 120 branches of varying sizes, some of which were little sales offices, some ranging up to a couple hundred lines into the single building. What's the one thing they had in common? Every single branch has a copper main number. Drove the carriers nuts. "Won't you consolidate your main line into a T1? It's cheaper and easier to manage that way for both of us!" Never happened, and I seriously doubt it will happen anytime in the next 20 years.

The reason for that is that, in the event of, say, a power outage, some informed person with a backup plan document can plug their analog phone into the copper line, and boom, you can talk to wherever is needed. Those T1 lines? Good luck with keeping those up, especially after your UPS dies. Are you going to honestly tell me that my computer can give me the same sort of functionality as an old analog, 4 wire phone?

I mean, hell, when I was working there, I had three different phones on my desk, each with a valid specific purpose. Almost everyone in the department had 3, one of which was always a copper line.

A second note: Cost. How many big companies are going to shell out for the hardware for setting all of this up, both on the user side and back end? Hell, of those ~100 branches, about 30 were still running Executone phone systems. Reliable, maybe, but the end range for the copyright date you see when you log in on those systems is 1992. Most large companies are under the impression of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

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