* Posts by Dr. Mouse

1358 posts • joined 22 May 2007

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Wileyfox smartphones: SD card, no bloatware, Cyanogen, big battery – yes to all!

Dr. Mouse
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Re: QI charging and NFC?

You can't use OTG and charge your phone at the same time.

You can, if the manufacturer implements it. I've had a tablet which supported this, a cheapo thing I can't remember the details of.

The problem is it's outside the official specs, and most don't support it.

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Does Linux need a new file system? Ex-Google engineer thinks so

Dr. Mouse
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But helping debug some else's already 3 years overdue file system isn't nearly as fun as writing your own new one. And it's the *nix way to have 5 projects when you could have 1. I can't blame him.

This is the software equivalent of https://xkcd.com/927/

Also, I have in the recent past developed a new feature for existing software. The amount of work it took just to understand where it would fit in almost pushed me to rewrite from scratch. In the end I shoehorned the software in, but only for my own use as making it all fit with the project's guidelines was too much of a ball ache. It did the job I wanted, but writing my own from scratch would have been no more difficult and far more fun (at least for my own use). It would have been more restricted in it's use, but it would have done the job I needed at the time.

It's always the way, I find. Learning how to develop for an existing codebase is a lot of hard work. Once you know, great.

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Hyundai ix35 Fuel Cell: El Reg on the hydrogen highway

Dr. Mouse
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Re: "... there is a dearth of renewable power."

Ignoring the whole issue of hydrogen supply for a moment, I LOVE having the Dictionary of Numbers installed. It really puts numbers into context.

This is what I see:

Big whoop. 1GW [≈ electric power output of a CANDU nuclear reactor] continuous is 61.3TWh per year.

There simply aren't very many high capacity underwater cables. 2GW [≈ peak power generation of Aswan Dam] is about where they top out.

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BOFH: Why, I LOVE work courses. Please tell me more, o wise one!

Dr. Mouse
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Brilliant, as usual. Shame I'm a week late...

"No idea. As I usually choose Hitler or Mussolini – for the salutes – I get asked to leave around then."

This reminds me of an old friend (may he rest in pieces). He was a top notch programmer earlier in life, but had failed to keep his skills up to date and was unemployed. The job centre sent him on several courses, one of which was, basically, maths for idiots.

During this course, one lesson was on division with fractions. One answer came out as 8.5, and the teacher explained that you had to apply the result in context. "For example," she said, "you can't have half a child."

His answer, which prompted the teacher to ask him to leave and never return, was, "Tell Jamie Bulger's parents that."

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Enjoy vaping while you still can, warns Public Health England

Dr. Mouse
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Still unpleasant to smell though. Was in a restaurant in London a while back and some American guy (vapourizers weren't as known over here then) pulled out his e-cig and started puffing clouds of the stuff over to our table. Seemed to think that because it wasn't actually a cigarette it was suddenly fine to use indoors in a place filled with non-smokers.

Still an unpleasant smell though. Was in a restaurant a while back and some woman sat close to me reeking of cheap perfume. She seemed to think that because it was perfume it was acceptable to pollute the air with it, and splashed yet more of it all over herself every time she went to "powder her nose". She even got the bottle out at the table and sprayed yet more of the noxious substance on herself.

The second statement is as good an argument for banning women from wearing perfume in enclosed public spaces as the first is for banning vaping in enclosed public spaces. Would a restaurant ask a woman to leave if she was wearing a perfume that a couple of diners found it unpleasant? Or a man with cheap aftershave? If not (and most wouldn't) then why would you ask someone to stop vaping?

Smoking is a different case altogether, as there are health risks associated with second hand smoke.

In short, using the argument of "it smells" is no argument for the backing of a ban. Using it as such is an authoritarian approach, attempting to force your own will onto other people. Come up with some real evidence for a health risk and I will support such a ban.

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Dr. Mouse
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Tempering my comment towards the cautious side, E-Cigs are a relatively new product which require further study to assess and possible health concerns.

That said, they are inevitably* going to be many times less dangerous than smoking tobacco products. Every person who moves from smoking to e-cigs will be better off, health-wise, even if they keep using the e-cig indefinitely without reducing their nicotine content. These devices should be encouraged.

Also, they are not medical devices, were never designed to be and were never promoted as such. They are recreational products, a substitute for tobacco. Why the **** should they be treated and regulated as medical devices? It will destroy innovation in the sector and, likely, destroy the sector. Only Big Pharma will have the resources to make them and we have all seen how good the pharmaceutical industries NRT products are. They will go from a vibrant, innovative product to a clinical mess in no time flat, with people forced to either accept the inferior Big Pharma versions or go back to smoking.

The e-cig portions of the TPD are insanity on a bewildering scale. All I can think is that there was some serious lobbying from the Tobacco industry (loosing out due to people not buying as many cigs) and Big Pharma (loosing out due to lower sales of their inferior products). It's similar to the music industries recentish problem: They were loosing out to pirates, as pirates were offering what the consumers wanted (convenient access to music). Rather than improve their own game, they got the governments to crack down on the pirates. Only this time it's worse: Rather than illegal operations disrupting the market, it's legitimate, innovative businesses, and rather than the result being less convenience, it will be deaths.

Of course, the cynic in me can also see governments worrying about the loss of tax revenue...

*I recently watched Team America again for the first time in years. Now I can't hear or type the word 'inevitably' without hearing Kim Jong-Il saying 'inebitabry'...

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Why do driverless car makers have this insatiable need for speed?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Mandatory

Does taking the Advanced Motoring qualification still get you lower premiums these days?

I am only an associate at the moment (working towards my IAM advanced motorcycle qualification) and have already saved a bundle on insurance. This is mostly down to using the IAM Surety insurance scheme after getting quotes elsewhere. They will beat a like-for-like quote by 10% on both my motorbike and car policies.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Automate the Pedestrians.

I think that one thing which has been overlooked by all this is continual analysis of possibilities. A self-driving car could be programmed such that it is always looking for escape routes from potential accidents. Think chess: computers are good (when programmed correctly) at multi-step thinking. At the point of the child stepping out into the road, they could have analysed 1000's of possibilities and 1000's of possible reactions, already calculated the appropriate action and be ready to respond instantly should that situation occur.

I know that good drivers do this already, although they do so subconsciously for the most part, just as the best chess players think many moves ahead. However, the car has been programmed to do so, and doesn't stop doing so because they are tired, or have had an argument with their wife, or are trying to solve that problem they were stumped by at work. The car is also more likely to have spotted that kid before he runs out into the road, analysed it's actions and prepared appropriate reactions.

How to respond comes down to the software writers. In a purely logical view, they need to minimise the damage done. A child's life would have a value, as would the life of the occupants of the vehicles, and the lowest cost action available would be implemented. The real question is how things would be weighted in the algorithm. That's the hard part, with interesting and conflicting moral and social dilemmas involved.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Mandatory

@werdsmith

"Yep, risk minimisation."

Yes, keeping the risks down to a minimum is the entire point of driving safely. The only way to completely eliminate the risk of being involved in an RTC is to stay away from roads completely.

Taking that as not being a viable option, and given that we are going to drive a vehicle on the road, one must keep risks as low as possible. Methods to do so include the aforementioned "Observation, anticipation, and correct and timely reaction", but include other things, too. One I have noticed is behaving as expected by other road users.

As pointed out by lucrelout, none of this precludes driving quickly. You can drive quickly and safely, and driving slowly doesn't automatically make you safe. On the contrary, driving too slowly can be dangerous in it's own right (you are not behaving as expected by other road users, and they are therefore more likely to make a mistake which lands you in bother).

What matters most, IMHO, is driving appropriately for the situation, good observational skills, experience and training. The other important factor is that you take driving seriously. I know many people who think they are a good driver with no need to learn any more, yet routinely make basic mistakes: driving too close, driving in a manner which makes them hard to predict, not observing/anticipating and then acting outraged when someone pulls out in front of them when it was obvious they were about to do so. If you take driving seriously, you will know that there is always more to learn, and you can always become a better driver, even if you are already the worlds best driver.

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Microsoft kicks off 'Windows as a service' with new Insider build

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Compressing and decompressing pages

I have this nagging thing about trying to decompress a needed page when the memory is already full.

How is this any different to swap?

With swap (in simple terms) when a process needs more memory but there is none available, some is written to disk to free up space. When the original process needs that memory back, something else is written to disk and the page recalled.

With the memory compression system (already implemented on Linux and several other OSes) when a process needs memory but there is none available, a section of memory is compressed and written to another area of memory (some will need to be reserved for writing this). When the original is required, another area is compressed and the page decompressed to the freed area. The only difference is the storage mechanism and the fact that, instead of needing some space on disk reserved for "swap", it needs some space in RAM reserved for the swapping process.

I think this is aimed more at desktop PCs than servers: A server will generally be specced to have enough RAM for the job it's doing (if the team responsible are doing their job correctly) and will rarely rely on swap. Desktops get given enough for day-to-day running, and will often rely on swap for peak load (often due to bean counters not allowing the small extra amount of cash to be spent).

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Assange™ is 'upset' that he WON'T be prosecuted for rape, giggles lawyer

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Name clearing

are you suggesting that the things that Assange stand accused of doing in Sweden, only a man should have to accept responsibility for, and a boy should not, as a matter of course?

When you are born, you are not responsible for your own actions. If a baby somehow managed to fire a gun and kill someone, you wouldn't say that baby should be locked up for murder.

As we grow up, we are steadily expected to accept more responsibility for our actions. This is not really a case of age, but of mental capability, understanding, and emotional maturity. It is also why there are different legal procedures for minors compared to adults, and why (AFAIK) it is possible for a minor to be prosecuted as an adult: If it can be shown that the person is capable of understanding what he did at the same level as an adult (in simplistic terms) then he should be treated as an adult.

So, yes, a "boy" who raped someone should not be treated the same as an "adult" who raped someone. They may well be locked up still, but they should be treated differently. Basically, they should be "locked up" to prevent them from being a danger to others, and to allow for rehabilitation. It should not be about punishment. IMHO as soon as they are no longer a danger to society, and it can be shown that they understand that what they did was wrong and will not do it again, they should be released (including if it can be shown that they have already reached this point by the end of the trial).

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Want Edward Snowden pardoned? You're in the minority, say pollsters

Dr. Mouse
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Re: @Esme - AC If you only watch Faux News and CNN....

In the end, there are times when you must break the law, because the law is unjust.

I can't say for certain that what Snowden did was altruistic, but the fact is that the NSA was (and probably still is) invading privacy on a horrendous scale. Yes, he broke the law, but in doing so he shined a light onto the dubious practices* involved. The world now knows what the NSA (and other, similar, organisations) get up to. This is a good thing.

Yes, I understand that the "government"** must sometimes act in secret to do it's job. However, they must act responsibly, and there must be oversight. There must also be a way for anyone who uncovers something wrong to report that and have it investigated in an impartial manner.

If what I read about Snowden is true, he uncovered those dubious practises, tried to raise it with his superiors and was ignored. This may or may not be true. No matter the true reason behind the leak, as long as he had done his utmost to raise the matter internally, it was justified to leak the material. AFAIK if he had been an employee, he would have been protected by whistleblower laws. He should be in this case.

I have seen comments on here saying that Snowden intended to leak info when he started the contract. As far as I am concerned, this is irrelevant: He uncovered something wrong, tried to report it, was ignored, so leaked. This course of action was the right course of action, and he should be honoured, not vilified.

* I think I am being generous, there. I would say illegal and morally reprehensible.

** I include police, security services, armed forces etc. under that umbrella term.

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Intel left a fascinating security flaw in its chips for 16 years – here's how to exploit it

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Require root or administrator access ...

"If a miscreant has root or administrator access, then you are stuffed anyway."

If you perform regular audits, system monitoring, and other checks you can pick up malware installed in the OS. If all else fails, you can wipe everything... "Bang! And the malware's gone!"

If this bug is exploited, the code lives in the CPU's firmware. Virus scanner? Nope, can't see it. Reformat and reinstall? Nope, still there. As with love, our "normal approach is useless here".

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Beaming boffins feel the rhythm as neutrinos oscillate over 500 miles

Dr. Mouse
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Re: ice melting in a bucket?

We used t' dream o' measurin' string wi't wooden ruler. We 'ad t' watch paint dry on't walls, makin' a note o't time on't big clock. Then teacher'd thrash us wi't cat 'o nine tails.

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Sengled lightbulb speakers: The best worst stereo on Earth

Dr. Mouse
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Re: inside out

Only as long as the wall switch is on.

It would only take for them to include a small adapter box to get around this. Granted, they don't right now, but a small box fitted behind the light switch could supply constant power to the "bulb" and send it the command to turn on/off.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: inside out

I can't help but feel that it would have been better to add light output to loudspeakers, rather than vice versa.

It's not about the combination of light and sound, it's about the universal form factor. Everywhere has a light socket, the light socket supplies power. So building devices into lightbulbs is a good idea.

Unfortunately, it seems building a speaker into a lightbulb is not such a good idea (which most people with a minimal understanding of audio could probably have guessed)

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We can give servers more memory, claims Diablo. Well, sort of

Dr. Mouse
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Why volatile?

I think these are a great idea, but why are they not non-volatile? This just makes them a slower, cheaper RAM. Why not make them non-volatile and allow them to be used "as a disk"?

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Radian ready to replace the flash translation layer

Dr. Mouse
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Interesting

FTL's were implements so we could just plug in an SSD and it works like a HDD. Great for simplicity, bad for extracting the best from the device. Filesystems are optimised for HDD-like access, but the FTL has to do a load of work to present flash like that, and will not be able to produce optimal results.

What would be much better is a virtually raw interface to the flash, with a filesystem optimised for flash. This system looks to be attempting a half-way house. It's an interesting idea, although I still think an optimised FS would do a better job.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 Torrent-U-Like updates GULP DOWN your precious bandwidth

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Sharing such files over the LAN should help...

You are right, the LAN side of this is a good idea. It will help in homes with multiple PCs, as long as their bandwidth between each other is greater than their internet bandwidth (e.g. not WiFi on the other side of a well-built house). If it's smart enough to check and select the most appropriate connection, I see no downside. They should make the setting obvious and easy to find, though.

However, sharing back out on to the web is nothing more than MS trying to cut down on their bandwidth costs, pushing that cost on to their customers. It should be either off by default or asked for on installation/first use, with warnings about bandwidth charges and a per-network setting (for those who are happy to enable it at home, but not when out on the road using a limited mobile internet connection)

EDIT: it seems that there is an option for this, although from what people say it's not obvious.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: +1 for Linux (And sharing malware in 5 4 3)

I'm pretty sure I remember a torrent-based apt, but it is not the default.

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Automattic says spooks asked for something it can't reveal

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Exposing Enemy Action?

posts seemingly intelligent comments based on parsing the text in the article and other comments, sometimes with more success than others

Isn't that what we all do? It also makes more sense than some "human" commenters on here at times...

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Wi-Fi 'reflector' hooks you up at 0.1 per cent of current power budget

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Science is just awesome

And anything that reduces power consumption should be greeted with open arms anyway.

But will it? I would think that the same amount of power would be used overall, at least, but the requirements are moved from one place to another. So in, say, a wearable, it means that device doesn't consume as much energy, but the access point (which could be a phone) will consume more.

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Are you a Tory-voting IT contractor? Congrats! Osborne is hiking your taxes

Dr. Mouse
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"The concept is that the income has already been taxed (when it was company profit) so to tax it again would be double taxation"

So how is it any different from a salary?

It is different from a salary because it has already been taxed (as corporate profits).

When a company pays your salary, they pay no corporation tax on that amount because it is an expense. When you take dividends from a company, it comes from the profits of that company, which are taxed.

So to make someone pay full income tax on dividends would mean that corporation tax is paid (at 20%), then income tax (at 20%+ above your personal allowance). You would be taxed twice.

Although, to be honest, I think they should do away with taxing companies completely. Make all tax payable by individuals at standard income tax rates. It would remove a lot of loopholes and simplify the tax system immeasurably.

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Dr. Mouse
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"Most contractors become contractors for the independence and extra cash, not the possibility of tax avoidance."

This is true, but misses one point: Tax them more and they have less extra cash.

The rule of thumb my father, and others, have always used is that take-home pay (so after taxes, expenses etc.) from contracting should be approximately double that from permanent work. This is to compensate for the uncertainty. This extra money should be put aside so that you have something to fall back on when you run into a time when you cannot find a contract.

Now, if the taxes are higher, the rates will have to increase to cover this. If clients are unwilling to pay the extra, some contractors will look for permanent employment instead. The extra pay compensates for the risk, and if they can't get as much money, will it still be worth the risk?

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Gates: Renewable energy can't do the job. Gov should switch green subsidies into R&D

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Stop proposing....

"People lived everywhere before aircon."

People also lived most places before central heating, electricity, cars, paper... That doesn't mean we should get rid of them.

It's easy for us Brits to slam people using air conditioning, as it rarely gets so hot that it is needed. But when you look at hot places, they would be much less comfortable and much less productive without it. There would also probably be more deaths.

Take a look at, for instance, Qatar. My friends just returned from an 18 month spell out there. In the middle of summer, it reached 50+ degrees C. Now, I know that the indigenous peoples survived without AC there for a long time, but they were a much smaller population, did not live as long, suffered much larger child and elderly mortality rates... Surely using a little electricity to reduce deaths and support a larger, more productive population is worth it?

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BT: Let us scrap ordinary phone lines. You've all got great internet, right?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Great! Even more load on my overstretched

If they were to get rid of the USO to require a POTS line, they would have to replace it with one to require an internet connection capable of supporting voice. It would need to be a matter of "you must provide a voice connection to any property".

As for all the other arguments here, I don't see the issue. Getting rid of the POTS requirement would increase the available bandwidth for xDSL. They could make it a requirement that all DSL routers supplied have a VoIP connection and a battery backup capable of lasting 24h. All lines must include a VoIP connection tied to the property.

That's the only way I can see that they should be allowed to drop the POTS requirement from their USO.

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Facebook frees Messenger from its gilded cage

Dr. Mouse
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Still, it'd be great if these companies stopped trying to reinvent XMPP

And SIP, and 101 different open standards which would let people communicate with each other in a seamless manner.

Just imagine if Messenger/Whatsapp/iMessage/Skype all ran on open standards. They could all integrate with each other, and it wouldn't matter which platform you used. You could communicate from PC, Laptop, Tablet or Phone with anyone, no matter what software each decided to use.

OK, dreaming over...

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Carbon nanotube memory tech gets great big cash dollop

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Expect hibernation and shutdown times to be *loooong* on company laptops.

If this is used in place of DRAM, it will be necessary to zero all the memory prior to sleep or shutdown to prevent embarrassing data loss in the event of a stolen laptop... unless we start encrypting memory contents, that is.

I think, with this kind of tech, we would need to start thinking in a very different manner.

If it, or one of the alternatives, proves to be as good as claimed, we will no longer have RAM and storage. They will be the same thing. So yes, we would probably need to start putting encryption on RAM as we do on storage devices. There would need to be transparent decryption in hardware.

However, we already have the same vulnerability as you are talking about in current tech, just slightly different. As I understand it, if the contents of a disk is encrypted, it is read through a driver and stored in RAM in an unencrypted form, at least for a short time. Now think of the number of users who just put their laptop to sleep: This will keep the contents of the RAM. Someone can come along, swipe the laptop, "freeze" the SODIMMs, transplant them to another machine and read the data. It is not quite so simple, of course, but it can be done.

So, if transparent encryption is baked in to the specification, there is actually a reduction in the vulnerability to data theft: All data on the non-volatile RAM is encrypted on write, decrypted on read. If they transplant the modules, they can only read encrypted data (assuming the key is stored elsewhere, preferably with a passcode of some kind to access it, and preferably in a secure element with a low probability of being hacked).

Therefore I humbly submit for your consideration that this could very well end up making our systems MORE secure.

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Power your temperature sensor with this BONKERS router hack

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Energy Efficiency @ dr. Mouse

"but the places you mention will mostly never fall below the traffic treshold mentioned in the article."

But what about the odd occasion when they do? Would they want the sensors to stop working just because, say, the fire alarm goes off in the warehouse or the airport has had to be cleared out because of a bomb scare? It may sound trivial in comparison to a bomb scare, but that tiny extra use of power over a short term stops there being a gap in the data.

I agree, in the vast majority of cases this is a waste of time and energy. But in a few niche cases, a simple modification to existing tech could prove incredibly useful, as well as efficient.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Energy Efficiency

OK, let's get one thing straight from the start: This will always be an inefficient way to power a device. You are sending out a signal in all directions, wasting most of the power, and receiving a fraction of it somewhere.

However, when the router is transmitting for other purposes (e.g. what it was designed for, providing a WiFi signal)), this power would be lost anyway. Therefore it is an improvement to capture and use it. The problem comes when it is being powered outside it's normal use.

Now, in a normal domestic setting, the transmitter probably remains off for the vast majority of the time. So this scheme would likely be very inefficient. However, think of busier places, like office blocks, retail premises, transport hubs, distribution centres. All of these tend to have WiFi, and they will be running a hell of a lot more than your average domestic set up. The overall efficiency of it as a power distribution system will increase a hell of a lot. I don't have numbers, but I suspect that in a 24/7 operation with WiFi "constantly" in use and many small sensors dotted around, it could exceed 100% (i.e. most of the power is captured from wasted power in WiFi signals transmitted anyway).

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Google: Our self-driving cars would be tip-top if you meatheads didn’t crash into them

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Yup...

As a biker, you develop a "sixth" sense as to the behaviour of other road users very quickly - either that or you become road-kill.

I agree. It is amazing how much the realisation of imminent pain/death can improve your perception.

My bike instructor put it this way: If you have an accident in a car, you'll dent the bodywork. If you have one on a bike, it's going to f*****g hurt! This is a great motivator to be aware of your surroundings, notice the guy on the roundabout who has not spotted you, back off approaching a blind bend, and beware of sheep who think that the best place to be on a foggy day is sat in the middle of the road.

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Insurer tells hospitals: You let hackers in, we're not bailing you out

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Hope this one sticks

I can't see licensing working. The tech changes far too rapidly.

It is not quite as fast, but the medical profession also advances at quite a rate. It is up to doctors to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with the latest advances in their field.

The same goes in IT. I spend vast amounts of my own time looking at new tech. Partly because I enjoy it, but mainly because it is necessary for me to do my job well. If we are starting a new project and I have missed a new, ideal piece of tech, I will not be able to do my job as well as I should.

Personal professional development should be part of every professional's schedule. The rapid advance of technology, in itself, does not rule out licensing and regulation.

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Private cloud has a serious image problem

Dr. Mouse
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Re: According to recent Gartner data,

I always thought the use case was about re-ordering the contents of your fridge and monitoring it's energy usage, as for the toaster who knows, perhaps it needs to express its feelings.

Toaster: Howdy doodly do. How's it going? I'm Talkie, Talkie Toaster, your chirpy breakfast companion. Talkie's the name, toasting's the game. Anyone like any toast?

Lister: Look, I don't want any toast, and he doesn't want any toast. In fact, no one around here wants any toast. Not now, not ever. No toast.

Toaster: How 'bout a muffin?

Lister: Or muffins. Or muffins. We don't like muffins around here. We want no muffins, no toast, no teacakes, no buns, baps, baguettes or bagels, no croissants, no crumpets, no pancakes, no potato cakes and no hot-cross buns and definitely no smegging flapjacks.

Toaster: Aah, so you're a waffle man.

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Ofcom: Oi, BT! Don't be greedy – feed dark fibre to your rivals

Dr. Mouse
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In addition, IIRC BT have favourable rules about business rates on fibre. I can't remember all the details, but I believe it was something along the lines of BT have preferential rates, along with only having to pay for lit fibre, where others have to pay for all fibre lit or not.

(Note as I say, I can't remember the details, but I do remember that there was an advantage along these lines)

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Law changed to allow GCHQ hacking ... just as GCHQ hauled into court for hacking

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Well, what a surprise!

What matters is the retrospective excusing of something that was wrong at the time when it took place.

This is precisely the main issue I have with this matter. Never mind whether you think this law change is right or wrong.

All legal action should be conducted under the law as it stood when the event took place. Laws should never apply to events before they came into force.

To make an example: Today, it is illegal for me to drive without insurance. Say I did so anyway, but tomorrow that law was changed. I should still be prosecuted, as I broke the law. It does not matter that it is no longer illegal. The fact is that I broke the law.

Similarly, today it is legal for me to drive with a certain level of alcohol in my blood. If I was pulled over, and found to have a BAC just under that limit, but then the law was changed tomorrow to zero tolerance, I should not be prosecuted as I did not break the law at the time.

What matters is the law at the time.

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Blocking pirate sites doesn't weaken pirates say Euroboffins

Dr. Mouse
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Re: "You mean Amazon?" @h4rm0ny

I used to pirate a lot of content: music, software, films... I did so for 2 reasons:

1) Money. I could not afford to buy them. There was no lost sale for the content producers, as without I would have gone without.

2) Convenience. When there was something I wanted to watch/listen to (which I could afford), it was a hell of a lot more convenient to download it illegally. Buying music meant going to a shop, finding the CD, queuing up, paying for it, and bringing it home. Then, I had to rip it to put it in my music library. Downloading meant a quick search, click a button, wait a few minutes and it was there.

Films were even worse. Watching the DVD meant unskipable bits before you even got to the menu. Ripping it took an age. Alternatively, a few clicks, leave it downloading while I do something else, and it was available in the format I wanted it in.

Now, I don't pirate any more. I can afford to buy what I want, which negates #1. As for #2, for music I have a streaming service to use, plus I can click, pay for and download what I want even more easily than pirating.

Films & TV shows still have a way to go. Because of legal agreements around their release to specific stations/sites etc. there is no one place I can go to get everything I want. But then again, I now have a TV package which gives me almost everything I want... I am at a different stage of life.

Just briefly coming back to point 1, my dad has told me that, when he was a kid, he and his mates used to club together to buy a copy of the latest music. They would then copy it to tapes so everyone got a copy. This was, again, because they couldn't afford it. The world hasn't changed since then, but the technology used has.

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Reader suggestion: Using HDFS as generic iSCSI storage

Dr. Mouse
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Re: HDFS: the subset of posix it implements

Discaimer: I know nothing about HDFS. However:

The only one I can see as an issue with the idea he suggests is #1. He is suggesting iSCSI use, in which case we are talking about a disk image. Therefore small files, seeking past the end (unless you are creating sparse images) and other points you mention don't apply. We are talking about exporting a single large file over iSCSI to be used as a disk on another system, which will partition and format it with it's own filesystem.

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Facebook tips India and Pakistan into NUCLEAR WAR of words

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Rock and a hard place

You can go left, you can go right, or you can go straight down the middle. Whichever way you go you're still going to piss somebody off.

In that case, the best bet is to include only official, legal definitions.

So, in this instance, Kashmir (AFAIK) is legally recognised by most of the world to be part of India. It may be in dispute, but that is how the legal borders are drawn. Hence that is how he should have presented it.

He (or more likely, the web designers or marketing people) sparked this argument by diverging from the norm. There would have been far less reaction if he had included Kashmir: One more person doing the same as everyone else draws less comment than someone standing out from the crowd.

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Self-STOPPING cars are A Good Thing, say motor safety bods

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Inappropriate speed limits

We should do away with fixed limits

In an ideal world, I agree with you. We should not need speed limits, because people should be taught how to judge a safe speed for themselves and road signs should be clear and be placed only where needed. Also, as you said, we would need more cops on the road to judge whether someone was driving too fast.

If a motorway is completely empty, there is very little extra risk driving at 90+ rather than 70. A driver should then be able judge that he can drive that fast, but then slow down when he sees another vehicle. He should be able to judge that this particular road is fine to drive at 40-50 on at night, but during the day it would be appropriate to stick to 25-30.

Unfortunately we do not live in an ideal world. Many people do not know how to judge a safe speed to drive at. They drive too fast, leave too little space between them and the car in front of them, and all manner of unsafe things. Speed limits are already just a limit. If I find a road where driving at the 40 limit is unsafe (due to traffic, weather, road conditions, the big line of school children walking along the path balancing on the kerb like a tight-rope) I will slow down. Many do not.

Relying on your own judgement is fine, but relying on the judgement of all drivers, many of whom don't even know what the national speed limit is or how to maintain a steady speed on a straight, clear road, is a folly. The only way to make it workable would be to raise the standard of driving skills of everyone, which I do not see happening...

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Flash banishes the spectre of the unrecoverable data error

Dr. Mouse
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Re: @ Dr. Mouse:

Depends on your data if that's a bad thing or not I suppose.

True, but it would be nice if there was an easy way to say "discard the bad bits but give me what's left", or even "ignore the error, just give me the (corrupted) file". However, I'd always rather know about the error, and it's only a minor issue for me. I can always restore important data from backup, and other things can normally be reacquired.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Hold on a second...

I agree about ZFS.

The other thing about it is that it detects corruption. So, if you take a simple 2-way mirror, you may get a single error on one disk. Most RAIDs I have seen would load balance reads between the 2 disks. So, if you read the block in question, there is a 50% chance that you will try to read the corrupted data.

Now if this is detected by the disk, fine, it will probably move over to the other disk. However, there are forms of silent data corruption which would not be detected, and you would get bad data returned to you. This could end up as simple as producing some corruption in a video you ware watching, or could bomb out the entire system (as it was a system file).

With ZFS, it would notice that the file was corrupt and return the valid data from the other disk. It would also copy the valid data across so it was available from the other disk.

The problem, for me, comes when an error is detected on both disks. It handles it the right way, for most things: It throws an error and makes note that the data is unreadable. However, let us say that it is only one block in a 10GB video file. ZFS would make the entire file as corrupt and, even though the video would probably still play fine, it is gone.

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Hordes spaff cash on Chip titchyputer to rival Pi (maybe)

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Looks good, but...

If you're distributing a bunch of sensors around the house, or want to build a networked toaster (well, someone might want to!) then $9 is closer to a reasonable price for each controller than $75-100.

Exactly what I was thinking.

I have had a big HA project in mind for a while now. The problem I always hit is cost. If you are deploying 10 units, even the RPi starts to look expensive. I know I can do the job with lower cost uCs, but then you hit the snag of connectivity, and adding it brings up the cost again.

$9 each with built in wifi and BT, and it becomes a worthwhile project.

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E-voting and the UK election: Pick a lizard, any lizard

Dr. Mouse
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Re: National Identity Card

While I personally can't see why a National ID Card is such a problem, since most of us carry one in the form of a driving license anyway

IIRC the main objections to it were

a) The incredible amount of data stored in the database

b) The fact that everyone would be required to have one, and pay for it

c) It wasn't that useful for most people

Point a could be solved by only storing the minimal amount of data in the central database to verify identity. Point b could be solved by not making it mandatory, although this would reduce it's effectiveness to the govt, and/or by issuing them for free, paid by general taxation.

Point c is the interesting one to me. If the ID card could be used for more things, it would be more useful. It would be the ideal place to implement electronic cash. It could be used with a card reader for logins/form filling etc. It could be used to store membership info to clubs, bank card details so you only need one card, all sorts of things. Having one would then simplify peoples lives, and it would be more popular.

In short, I could see government issued ID cards being of great benefit, but not in the form they were presented.

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Your new car will dob you in to the cops if you crash, decrees EU

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Gah!

So we should make car seats out of razor blades. Also just say there is an airbag when there is not for 1 in a 100.

You'd drive safe just in case it was yours ;)

This reminds me of a sign I saw once. "This site is protected by shotgun security one day a week. You guess which one!"

will fall to the floor, trigger the sensor, and in conjunction with the fading pulse, a call will be placed to the ambulance service.

There are already apps for this. Realrider, designed for motorcyclists, has this:

Key sensors in your Smartphone look for changes such as rapid deceleration, tumbling motion followed by a period of non-movement. If your REALRIDER® app detects a crash, an alert is triggered.

If you’re OK, you can deactivate the alert to prevent your information from being sent to the NHS. If the alert is untouched, the phone will send your location, medical details and mobile phone number to the Ambulance Control Room.

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Debian ships new 'Jessie' release with systemd AND sysvinit

Dr. Mouse
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Re: "needrestart"??

I assume you don't care about kernel upgrades then

Actually, IIRC even then you don't need a full reboot. There is something (can't remember the name of it any more) which allows you to load a new kernel in without a full reboot, although all it really saves is BIOS and bootloader time (which can be quite a lot, especially on some servers).

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Cash register maker used same password – 166816 – non-stop since 1990

Dr. Mouse
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The pair recommends customers assume vendors have no security baked into PoS systems and are lying when they claim to have such. Instead, customers should conduct rigorous penetration tests.

Very sound advice. Never assume anything is secure. There could be undisclosed vulnerabilities or flaws in absolutely anything. If you assume it is insecure, you will stand a much better chance of ending up with a secure system. If you assume it will be insecure no matter what you do, you will probably keep a closer eye on it, spot problems sooner, and plug them sooner.

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Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

Dr. Mouse
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I agree with most of the concepts explained in the article. Yes, another product comparison site can be made. Yes, if it is that much better (or Google is that much worse), consumers will start using it.

However, there is a considerable point missing here: Convenience. Most people on the web (at least in the west) use Google for search. If they do that, there is an extra step involved in going to another site, whereas Google display their product search results right there on the main search results page. There has to be a big advantage to another site for consumers to consider switching.

This applies to many of the other services Google offer. They are not always the best, they may have their downsides, but they are very convenient, especially to someone who uses Google as their gateway to the internet. By forcing competitors to need a vastly superior product to outweigh this convenience, there is no longer a level playing field. The market is heavily biased towards Google in many ways. This doesn't mean other companies can't win (just take a look at the failure of G+), but it will always be an uphill struggle in any market where Google already has a footing.

This is not to say whether the current EU action against Google is valid (or not). Just that this important point is missing entirely from the article.

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Docker huddles under Linux patent-troll protection umbrella

Dr. Mouse
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Re: re: @Electron Sheperd

There are for all practical purposes an infinite number of patents.

Here's the rub for a hell of a lot of cases, not just software, and not just using obscure interpretations.

Unless you can afford to hire a specialised team who have intimate knowledge of patent legalese and your own field plus many others, it is nearly impossible to be certain that you are not infringing a patent in some way. There are so many that looking through them yourself will only get you so far. Even such a team could easily miss one.

I have done my own patent research in the past. It turned out my invention was covered by an existing patent, but I was already part way through the application when I stumbled across it. I had done a lot of research beforehand, but the patent in question did not look, at first glance, to be even remotely relevant. It was only when I read in more detail (I was interested in that particular patent outside the purposes of my own patent application) that I found that it mostly covered my own invention. The parts remaining were too trivial to be worth a patent.

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Google's new scribble-tab-ulous handwriting interface for Android

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Graffiti anyone?

Swype is great on phones but not so wonderful on tablets and larger devices. I'd agree with that, but why couldn't you just use a smaller (or adjustable/scalable) Swype keyboard on the tablets?

I'd love that. I use the swipe input on my phone all the time, and it ends up taking me longer to type on my 8-inch tablet than it does on my phone! Bringing the keyboard down to the bottom right (or left) corner of the screen would make it usable.

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Labour policy review tells EU where to stuff its geo-blocking ban

Dr. Mouse
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I don't get it...

Why would the removal of geo blocking hurt niche/local producers (which seems to be one of the arguments here). OK, they can't restrict which areas they sell their content to, but why does that hurt them?

We live in a single market. This means goods and services should be able to be freely traded across borders. It should not just be an advantage to businesses, who can sell their products anywhere, but also to consumers, who should be able to buy from anywhere. If I want to subscribe to, say, a German satellite TV package, why shouldn't I be allowed? My grandfather is German, and he would love to be able to do that, so he could watch programmes in his native language.

I am not being funny here, I honestly want to know why it is such a big deal. Nothing I have read has given me a decent answer, except that big businesses couldn't make a fortune any more selling the exclusive rights in individual areas.

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