* Posts by Dr. Mouse

1325 posts • joined 22 May 2007

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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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Dr. Mouse
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While it is obviously a welcome option on generic Android, I have to say that if it doesn't understand cursive, it's not much more than a gimmick. (I don't know if it does, but it seems not from the examples show)

I have terrible handwriting, but my last 2 tablets have had styli, and I have used handwriting recognition on them to great effect when the situation called for it. The first was a Tegra Note, and my current one is the Shield Tablet. Writing on these is a breeze, and recognition is reasonably accurate even with my awful handwriting. I can't remember what combination of apps etc. I used, but I was very impressed.

OTOH the on screen keyboard is much quicker in most situations. The only problem is it needs you to look at the screen. Handwriting recognition allowed me to take notes during presentations, and they were accurate enough that I could make them out when I reread them (unlike a lot of my handwritten notes on paper lol).

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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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Lib Dems wheel out Digital Rights Bill pledge as election sweetener

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Oh look - the Lib Dems are making us a promise just before the election.

Lib Dems - more fool them - have done the responsible thing, they joined in coalition with the party that had the greatest number of MPs, as a junior partner they got a little bit of what they wanted and had to do a lot of what the senior partner wanted.

I completely agree. It was the responsible thing to do, even though they have lost a lot of support for it. Neither party got everything they wanted, and I do believe that having the LibDems as a junior partner tempered the Tories in a way which benefited the country. The policies which have been put into effect have been a blend of the two parties, roughly in proportion to their seat count. I think it has actually gone very well, and shown that coalition governments can work in this country, even though a lot of people disagree.

However, the tuition fees issue was different. LibDem MPs, individually, pledged to vote against any tuition fee rises. This was not just an "if we win the election we will..." promise, it was an outright, no-matter-what pledge. It was not just an entry in the manifesto, it was a pledge made by individual MPs, including Clegg. That sort of promise should not be allowed to be broken, and the LibDems should have stuck to their guns on it.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: [the Lib Dems have] never broken an election promise before.

Easy solution: free votes and the whips stay away when there are conflicts like that. That way the respective parties are given the opportunity to stick to their promises.

I always thought that should have been the LibDem position on tuition fees. It was such a major component of their policies to a lot of their voters (they get a lot of student support) that backing down on that was a huge mistake.

I also think that MPs should be forced to honour their promises. If they break them, an immediate by-election should be called. All such promises should be lodged with the electoral commission by candidates and/or parties, and anyone should be able to lodge a complaint that they promised and didn't lodge it.

At least then we would see what the candidate/party actually intends to stick to, majority or not. It may make things difficult in a coalition, but you should be able to rely on that list as to what they will actually stick to.

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Marvell: We don't want to pay this $1.5bn patent bill because, cripes, it's way too much

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Blasphemy

In 200 BC Eratosthenes even worked out that the earth had a circumference of 24 700 miles.

Ah, OK, I didn't know that. Very interesting.

My point was mainly that Science and Religion can go hand in hand. It's just ignorant fools who don't take into account new proof within their religious beliefs. A good example is evolution: Why can that not be the method a deity used to create? Same with the big bang.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Blasphemy

Besides, when has your God, had anything to do with science or tech?

Actually, there is some good science in the bible. The one example I can remember off the top of my head is that, in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) I think, it is stated that the earth is round. In this case, the word used for round meant like a ball, spherical. This was at a time when most thought it was flat.

Not a believer any more, but I studied all that when I was young, and still remember quite a lot. It's great for using in debates on either side. I had a "discussion" recently with someone arguing that they, a Christian, shouldn't have to provide services to homosexuals. A few scriptures later from Jesus' life, and I had proved that his own Holy Book commanded him not to discriminate. Unfortunately, he was just an ignorant bigot who wouldn't be moved, so I got bored and abandoned it.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: A school owns patents?

Schools like CMU are supposed to encourage innovation, not crush it.

Two points here.

As already mentioned, Uni's, especially in the Engineering depts, do a lot of research. They do encourage innovation and pushing of boundaries. They will then get patents on these, and use the royalties (which are normally available for anyone to license, unlike those held by many companies) to invest back in to the school. Without these, students (or the govt on their behalf) would be expected to pay a hell of a lot more than they already do.

Also, patents do encourage innovation where used properly. They allow the inventor of something innovative to claw back something for all their hard work inventing it, by granting a temporary monopoly and stopping others ripping off their work. They also require publication of details, meaning future efforts can more easily piggy-back this work, as long as they gain the permission of the patent holder.

Where things fall down is in the current implementation and use of patents. We have the trolls, who buy patents and then hoard them, waiting for the best moment to strike with a case against an infringement. We have companies who use broad and generalised patents to stop competitors. And we have broken patent offices which allow this to happen.

Overall, I would say that patents to more good than harm, but we hardly ever hear about the good cases. In this case, it seems CMU are in the right. CMU did a lot of research, and would have licensed the patents to Marvel had they negotiated. Marvel violated the patent (according to the court) and made no effort to negotiate reasonable royalties. The court had to decide on a level, and awarded punitive damages too.

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+5 ROOTKIT OF VENGEANCE defeats forces of gaming good

Dr. Mouse
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Re: "Fully streamed"

Eventually gaming will become a matter of who has the best equipment, and the best AI, with little or no human interaction. The skill will be in developing the best AIs yourself. Just like real war.

I don't see this happening. Humans like to pit their skills against each other, and this will not change. People will still try to "cheat" with AIs etc, but the majority of people who play games do so because they enjoy it.

I do believe there will be a class of gamer who develops and uses their own AI, but this will be a minority. The class of people who enjoy doing this is a minority, and I don't think that will change. It is just like in life in general. The majority will just get on and do stuff. It is the minority who search for and develop new, more efficient ways of doing things.

On the subject of developing your own AI, I have never viewed this as cheating. There is a vast amount of skill in it. In my view, the ones who are cheating are the ones who just download and install software. However, I know this is a minority view, just like it is a minority view that card counting is just playing Blackjack well.

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Do androids dream of herding electric sheep?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Automated mouse catcher.

It's called a "mousetrap"

Exactly what I thought! Have an upvote.

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Blaze it: US drug cops taken to court to ensure all dragnet snooping records are destroyed

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Yet even with these privacy invasions

Even more, the underlying cause of the "drugs problem" is demand. Humans have always had a desire for recreational substances. All over the world, in all cultures, there has been some form of drug available and in widespread use. In the west it was mostly alcohol, Native Americans had tobacco, in South America they had the cocoa leaf... the list goes on. Now, these have spread from their native lands, some have been defined, so people have more choice.

While demand exists, someone will supply, legal or not. If the government ban it, criminals (or someone, who then becomes a criminal) will step in to fill the gap. A lot of the time this is large criminal organisations. So by banning the substance, you feed more money into the criminal organisations, which use that money for other criminal activities.

The war on drugs is doomed to failure on the grounds of basic human nature, and (IMHO) does more harm than good.

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Smart meters are a ‘costly mistake’ that'll add BILLIONS to bills

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Just give us the numbers

Smart meters are a solution looking for a problem

Not really. In that particular case, the power companies still have to send people out to read the meter. This costs.

I think the main problem is the costs involved. Myself, I would suggest that they make it voluntary, charge for the meter and installation for those who want it, but allow the companies to charge a reasonable* fee for sending people out to read the meter. This would allow consumers to do a real cost/benefit analysis of their own: Are they happy to pay out for the meter, given that it may take N years to pay for itself? Are the other benefits involved worth the cost? And so on...

In the end, forcing the rollout at this stage is a bad idea, IMHO. I agree that the meters will probably be obsolete before they have paid for themselves. By then we may have things like smart appliances, more electric cars, more solar panels and/or home generation/storage systems, all of which will benefit from more advanced smart meter technology, but noone will be happy rolling out updated models so soon.

Let those who want them, get them and pay for them.

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Voda UK CEO says one thing about not-spots, Minister of Fun says another

Dr. Mouse
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He's a Minister, why would he need evidence? All he needs is to know that a chunk of the public's votes will be swayed by something, and he'll jump right in.

Evidence is for all those irritating scientists, engineers and other geeks. They never agree with Ministers on things which may win votes. They always want to do a job properly, not win votes. It's infuriating!

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EU creative collection agencies want YouTube et al to pay their wages

Dr. Mouse
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Unless you have a release from the copyright holder, you cannot use their music in your videos.

I understand that this is the current, legal position. However, I suspect that the vast majority of these videos from private individuals would be viewed by no more people than a DVD produced by them. It would not hurt the artist for it to be allowed. This is even more the case in many Facebook examples I have seen, where the video is shared with a small group of friends. Even if it became hugely popular, it STILL would not hurt them, as they would likely gain more exposure and see a rise in sales.

The background music is not the main product. It is merely something to add in the background to the home video.

As for companies avoiding "this headache", it is (IMHO) unworkable. It would also lead to mission creep: All content posted on any public forum would require pre-moderation to ensure it was legal. This would lead to the closure of many public forums due to excessive administrative overheads, and a lot of content being blocked just because it might, possibly, be considered outside the law by someone, and it's easier to block it than fight.

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Dr. Mouse
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If Google and co. vetted the content and ensured only personal-copyright material could be uploaded by private accounts (i.e. stuff they had filmed themselves, no background music from commercial bands etc.) and that the copyright owners could upload their content and earn from the views.

I think there are several points to be made here, but I will address the one I find most ridiculous first.

Why the hell should a private individual not be able to post a video backed by a piece of music? I know several people who, recently, have posted videos to a closed Facebook group with commercial music in the background, and had it pulled. In my view, this is no different to burning the video to disc, with the backing track, and distributing it to your friends. It's not as though it'd going to get a billion views and damage the musicians bottom line. It has been taken way too far. As far as I'm concerned, using a track as backing for a personal video is fair use, even if it's the whole track. What's next, banning videos from concerts, or banning videos of a kids birthday part just because it happened to have a commercial track playing in the background at the venue? Banning wedding videos?

In addition to this, asking the hosting companies to vet every single upload... Are you living in cloud cuckoo land?! Have you any idea how much this would cost? Do you really think companies would allow us to host things for free if they had to examine all content to ensure it was legit?

I'm all for protecting content creator's rights, but there must be some balance and common sense.

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I helped Amazon.com find an XSS hole and all I got was this lousy t-shirt

Dr. Mouse
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Re: In a word: YES

It's not just in the IT industry that people are put upon to work for free

However, I do think it is more "expected" than any other, especially within (and just beyond) a circle of friends.

I have lost count of the number of weekends I have wasted fixing a "little problem" with a friend's computer. I have also lost count of the number of shocked faces I have seen when I suggested I should be paid for the work. "But all you need to do is push a few buttons" seems to be the thought process.

Things are different when you look at someone like a band (a mate's band charged me, albeit at mates rates, for singing at my engagement do, and I was happy to pay) or a plumber (they will generally diagnose the issue for free but charge, at mates rates again, for doing the actual work, which I am happy to pay). These are expected. They are doing "real work", not just playing with a computer.

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Should online pirates get the same sentences as offline ones?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: @Dr. Mouse - "this is not a serious crime"

so would I be correct in interpreting your narrative that you feel it is perfectly OK for Joe (or Jane) Public to 'get hold of' (my words and intepretation) art/movies/imagery/music produced by someone else and not to have to pay for it, or them potentially not having any downstream liability when their actions can be proved to have lost the artist/photographer/indie film maker some not insignificant dosh?

Not at all. The point I was making is that I could easily see this new legislation being written in a dangerous way which does not take into account the real world.

If someone torrents a film, for example, what they are doing is the equivalent (IMHO) of buying a dodgy copy at a market stall, copying it and selling those copies on to friends to recover the cost they paid. Obviously this is wrong, but it is not a serious crime.

The difference with torrents is that, to "recover the costs" (i.e. to get it free) you will be sharing with hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of other people. If the law is not written correctly, this could face the person with the same kind of punishment as a market-stall seller distributing 10s of thousands of copies.

Personally, I haven't pirated anything for a very long time, and have never pirated a small-time producer's content. At a time when I could not afford to buy a film, I did pirate them, but I would never have bought them because I could not afford it, and would have had to have done without. For music, I bought the stuff I really wanted. I never deprived anyone of income with my own use of pirated content, although I guess it could have been argued that I did by seeding to people who potentially would have.

Now I can afford it, I buy the films I want, and have a subscription to a music service. I also still buy CDs of music I really like.

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Dr. Mouse
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But if you torrent it, you are also distributing it to many other people and aiding others in piracy.

This is the danger that needs to be dealt with in a sensible manner.

When dealing with a distributor of pirated goods in the physical world, there is a pretty direct correlation between the "seriousness" of the crime and the amount of goods they distributed. They often make a lot of money from it.

In the online world, most are making no money. It is like allowing all your friends to copy the CD you just bought from the market stall, but on a larger scale. This is not a serious crime. However, if the law makers are not careful, it will be looked on as such: You distributed to 10,000 people so it should be dealt with the same as selling 10,000 physical copies.

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Barclays punts instant Twitter mobile payments app – best avoid while drunk

Dr. Mouse
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Re: They can keep it

For a technology magazine the first 2 comments sound pretty Ludite.

I have to agree.

Personally, I have not used Pingit, yet. However, I regularly use bank transfers to/from my friends and family instead of exchanging paper money. For me, I already have them set up, so it is simpler to use that than Pingit. However, I would certainly try Pingit/Paym for a new payee, or for someone I would only be paying once.

The twitter handle thing doesn't interest me, but I see nothing wrong with them implementing an additional way to address the transfer. I can see sending to a Facebook account or email address coming next.

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Elementary, my dear penguin: It's the second beta of Freya

Dr. Mouse
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Yes, I was going to quote several Windows versions, but couldn't be bothered. Vista was just an example.

Microsoft is well known for shipping beta (or at least RC) quality code on launch. Most techies I know will wait until at least the first SP before committing to a new MS OS, as you don't know what the "finished product" will be like until then.

I have yet to see an MS OS released without a long list of bugs, which are either a flaw in the fundamental design (e.g. Vista) or are fixed by the first SP. IMHO this is "being asked to pay for beta quality software".

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Dr. Mouse
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And don't forget, you're being asked to pay for beta quality software at this point. Even Microsoft doesn't do that.

*COUGH* Vista *Cough*

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How good a techie are you? Objective about yourself and your skills?

Dr. Mouse
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On the ethical side of things, I would say the fact you are asking these questions of yourself to such an extent shows that you have the moral fortitude.

For the rest, and many of the comments, it appears my own experiences are not as abnormal as I believed. I, too, had a bit of a breakdown. Many aspects of your career closely match my own. I suddenly feel much less alone. Thank you so much for sharing.

Personally, I have protected myself since my brush along the edge of self-annihilation. Although it is impossible to keep jobs like this 9-5, I have managed to make it as close as possible. My own rule is that, unless I am being paid for it, I will not do actual work outside of my normal hours. Without that rule, and part of the reason for my issues, I have been known to continue working until the early hours, and working for weeks without a break.

I do allow myself to do research out of work (I count that as professional development) and personal projects related to work. But those I can easily put aside and get on with my own life. While I occasionally break my own rule, it becomes much easier to maintain a good work/life balance. I have probably become an inferior IT professional by doing this, but what I have gained in my personal life more than outweighs it. My self confidence has improved, my personal relationships have improved, and my overall level of happiness is an order of magnitude higher. It is the best decision I ever made.

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Android malware hijacks power button, empties wallet while you sleep

Dr. Mouse
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LOL, Android is swiss cheese if you poke it full of holes and don't know what you are doing! Just like any device where a user disables all the security measures and blindly clicks OK to any dialogue box that happens to appear!

FTFY

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IT knowledge is as important as Maths, says UK.gov

Dr. Mouse
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Re: My IT classes...

The French teacher was probably embarrassed at her lack of in-depth IT knowledge but reacted poorly as a result. There is a good example of a teacher having to teach something that is not their core subject - this is not the fault of the teacher but is a lack of teaching resource / money.

I agree with the reason (she was embarrassed), but not the conclusion.

A good teacher would realise she was out of her depth and learn from someone with greater knowledge of the subject matter. Therefore it was the fault of the teacher. I have had several teachers whose knowledge or ability in a particular, specialist subject was less than that of a student in their class. All but the worst responded well to corrections made in a respectful manner.

I will readily admit that I handled the situation badly when she would not accept that she was wrong, and argued the toss. At that point she had no choice but to punish me, as I wasn't respecting her authority. However, she should have nipped it in the bud before that by accepting her mistake while I was still being respectful.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: The problem with "Education" is the system.

But the first and most important factor is "What interests & skills does the student exhibit?"

I do not think that this should be the guiding factor in early education.

Primary education should be as broad as possible, teaching about as many subjects as possible. The students need to be given the opportunity to experience as many things as possible, so that they can figure out what interests them and what they are good at.

This broad base should continue in high school, with a small amount of choice and specialisation offered, until the student reaches GCSE. At this point, they can specialise more. They have the solid, broad base, as well as more understanding of their own skills and preferences, and some idea of what they will need for any career they go into.

After this, if they continue in education, they can specialise still further. But all the while, they will have had the broad base on which to build their decisions.

Like it or not, those students that don't give a damn about learning anything, only serve to disrupt the ones that do. They don't deserve the same resources. We need to concentrate our limited efforts on those who actually care to learn.

Now while I agree with the sentiment, I do not think it right to (basically) abandon someone who "doesn't want to learn". I knew a few like this at school. They disrupted the class, and made my life hell. The sad thing is, they were almost always the kids from poorer backgrounds, with parents who thought education was a waste of time. Some were actually pretty intelligent, but they followed their parents' and friends' attitudes. It would be a crying shame to chuck them in the bin just because they lack a decent upbringing.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: RE: offered a programming club

Ok, I don't know what age the kids were but I beleive anyone dismissing Scratch as a learning aid to introdcutory programming is either elitist or ignorant.

He did say:

IT lessons show a student how to mail merge (advanced topic), how to make a basic website (CSS is A-Level content), not how to diagnose a network connection fault.

Therefore I would assume he was teaching in a high school.

I agree that Scratch is good for an introduction, but as long as the kid is old enough (and they are by high school) they should be taught to actually programme. If they did not get the intro at primary level, fine, introduce them with Scratch, but do not leave it there. Move on to a programming language as soon as they are ready.

Scratch introduces the basics of programming in a fun and accessible way. It cannot replace coding, though.

I offered to teach them some actual coding once they got the ideas of loops, ifs etc grounded from that. He flat out rejected it saying that it would lead to them becoming hackers.

He sounds like an ignorant SOB. That is why we need real "computing teachers", people who understand computers and programming and treat it as a specialist subject, just like Maths or English. The problem is that those who do understand can earn a lot more in the real world, so we get the French teacher who knows how to use Word teaching IT.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: My IT classes...

I had two experiences with IT at school.

The first was exemplified by a dispute between myself and the "IT teacher" (actually a French teacher they drafted in for the lessons). During one lesson, we were told we could earn extra marks by answering a question. If we knew the answer, we were to go to her desk when called and answer.

The question: "What is a RAM disk?"

I answered with words along the lines of "A virtual disk emulated in the computer's RAM". She replied, "No, it's Random Access Memory". A short debate (cough) occurred between us over definitions involved, ending with me being told I wasn't welcome in her class because I was not prepared to learn.

The second was much different. This was later, and all the computer labs had been upgraded to PCs. I grew bored with the endless stream of typing exercises and mind-numbing spreadsheet tasks asked of us. I therefore set about, erm, unlocking certain locked down features within the NT4 environment. I gained access to Explorer, messaging clients, games and several others which were (supposedly) unavailable. All very trivial, and I never did anything even remotely malicious, but it passed the time.

The IT teacher (actually a Physics teacher, but at least he had a basic grasp of computing) caught me, and took me to see the sysadmin. We chatted for a while and, instead of punishing me for "hacking", he did the sensible thing: Asked me for help. I proceeded to lock down everything I had discovered the correct way, and in return he allowed me an admin account (to help him in future, not to install and play games *cough*). We became friends, and still are to this day.

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Dr. Mouse
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I see this differently

Being able to use a computer has become just about as important as being able to read and write. However, in this context, the requirement is to be able to use a computer, not manage it.

What is needed, IMHO, is computer literacy in primary schools. After that, it should just become a part of other lessons, just as it has become an integral part of most jobs.

IT lessons could then focus on more advanced topics than using Word and Excel, just as English lessons so not stick with just how to read and write.

If we continue to teach word processing and spreadsheets as a separate subject, people will continue to see computing as separate, which is not how the world of work operates. A computer is just a tool (as are most users, FNAR FNAR), just like a pen and paper.

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Boffins grasp Big Knob, get ready to go ALL THE WAY at the LHC proton-punisher

Dr. Mouse
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Joke

people just moaned "we haven't tried enough ENERGY yet"

Always my favourite method: It didn't work when I hit it, so hit it HARDER!

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It's not easy being Green. But WHY insist we knit our own ties?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Yes, but,

If I can make a cheaper and better chocolate cake using ingredients sourced at retail cost, than a huge company, is it me who is ruining the economy or the company feeding excess profits into the directors off-shore HSBC account?

But how much time do you spend doing so? I assume you enjoy baking, so it is a recreational activity for you. However, if it was not you would be spending that time working. Googling, a simple cake takes about half an hour to make, or I can go to the supermarket and spend £5, which will get me a nice enough cake, finished and ready to eat.

I can do a better job, for less money, cleaning my car at home rather than taking it to one of those hand car wash places. But it will take me a lot longer to do so. For less than £5 I can get my car washed. For £15 I can get it cleaned inside and out. Alterrnatively I can spend a couple of hours doing it myself to get it perfect. Most of the time, I would rather take the first option, and waste only 10-15mins, during which I can relax and listen to the radio, then have more than an hour of extra time to do things I enjoy.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: What is a market anyway?

The point of this is not that money is everything.

We (or at least most of us) earn money spending time doing things we don't want to do. Therefore, money is just a representation of our time.

This means that, in my case, I give up 40 hours of my own time, doing something I don't want to do, in order to be able to do things I do want to do. My week's pay packet is 40 hours of my time. I then spend portions of that on other things I need, then the remainder on things I want to do.

Money is a generalised token system representing, mostly, your time (to a specific individual). Time is pretty much all we have. I, personally, would not spend that time growing veggies. I do, however, enjoy cooking, or fixing cars/motorbikes. I could pay someone else to do that (and frequently do if there is something else I would prefer to spend my time on), but the point is that I have time to do what I want to do. I have that by trading some of my time.

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Official: Single people need to LOWER their EXPECTATIONS

Dr. Mouse
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Why is there an xkcd for everything?

http://xkcd.com/310/

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'Camera-shy' Raspberry Pi 2 suffers strange 'XENON DEATH FLASH' glitch

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Makes sense

As mentioned elsewhere, it is the components which are made like that. Sounds to me like it's bad component choice for a board which is designed for hobbyists, or bad design (if those components are to be used, they need to add some covering to them).

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ALIENS are surely AMONG US: Average star has TWO potentially Earth-like worlds

Dr. Mouse
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Obligatory xkcd

http://xkcd.com/1377/

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Three to pleasure bumpkins with 800MHz

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Not so good if you've got a OnePlus One

As always, xda-developers is your friend.

I have actually made an official complaint about this. First off, it could actually be taken as defamatory telling the public (not just in the app, but on their blogs as well) that the OPO is rooted, and could put people off buying it. Also, there is no technical reason why the app won't work on the OPO.

Finally, as stated above there is a way to get it working. It is ironic: The way to get the app to believe the phone is not rooted is to root it! Ridiculous!

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