* Posts by Dr. Mouse

1497 posts • joined 22 May 2007

Google lifts app price ceiling to US$400

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Why should there be any limit ?

I think, as AC stated bellow, they are probably covering their arses with the limit. Many people don't protect their store account, and a couple of clicks charge them whatever price for the app.

I think I'd go a different route: Allow the user to set a spending limit (possibly per transaction, maybe on a rolling week/monthly basis). Set the default fairly low. If a transaction will take you over that limit, a password is required. Possibly, for greater security, have a second stage of security for large purchases.

However, for app developers, there is another route: Require the user to buy a license key. For those few apps which need it, particularly business apps, it wouldn't be enough of a hassle to put users off, and they could do volume licensing deals etc. Also, Google wouldn't be taking their cut.

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Pimp your TV: Goggle box gadgets and gizmos

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Nice little roundup

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of Balkanisation going on, sometimes in the name of consumer choice, which really just seems to mean you do need all those subscriptions, because everything's chopped up into smaller and smaller parcels and before too long "competition" will mean you can't watch a whole season of any sport on a single platform with one subscription.

This really irritates me, too.

Take a look at UK football. A few years ago, "all" you needed was Sky Sports and you could watch everything. Then, "competition" was brought in. You have ended up with several channels across which the games are spread. While techinically it is competition, it does mean that a football fan now needs to pay for Sky Sports, and BT Sports, and any other channels, so it costs them more.

For real competition from a consumer point of view, it needs to be that all the games are available on all the channels, and the consumer has a choice of which subscription to pay for. As it is, all "competition" has done is screwed more money out of the consumer.

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Apple ordered to write a $234m check to uni in A7 chip patent spat

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Very Appealing

Also the question is if universities (UW is not the 1st one to go after another business) should engage in this kind of practices.

The answer to this question is an overwhelming "Yes".

Let's get this straight. The uni developed a new method of doing something. They were awarded a patent on it. Unis generally license those patents to all-and-sundry for reasonable fees, and I'm making the assumption here that WARF would do the same. Universities then use this license money to fund education and R&D.

So, we have a "benevolent" organisation, who has innovated, noticed that someone is using this innovation, let them know that they need to license it, and been dismissed by the organisation. They have no choice but to take it to court, otherwise what is the point in having the patent? They were not asking for a ridiculous amount of money, Apple just did not want to pay.

Sometimes, lawsuits are necessary when all other avenues to reasonably resolve a dispute have been tried. This is not like the ambulance chasers. It is an organisation trying to reclaim what is rightfully theirs after all other avenues have been exhausted. If they didn't do this, they may as well have just released the invention to the public domain. Do you really think Universities would survive making no money from their inventions after pumping significant resources into them? No, they would abandon R&D and probably increase tuition fees to cover it.

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Apple may face $900m bill after A7 CPU in iPhones, iPads ripped off university's patent

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Oh the irony

they requested I sign a paper saying anything I developed belong to them, including any research I might perform.

This is fairly standard. At a uni, they are providing a lot of facilities for you. When I went, they allowed use for your own projects too.

If you have a good idea, it is often possible for you to talk to them and negotiate an exception, although they may expect something in return. You are paying them to teach you, not to help you found a new company, provide R&D equipment and resources etc.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Oh the irony

Universities often hold many patents. They do not often build products themselves from them. So by this narrow definition, you may see some relevance in calling them a patent troll.

However, Universities will normally license out those patents, even offering help in their implementation (for a fee). They will advertise them, not horde them looking for a payout later, and (AFAIK, I have never had to negotiate with them) their fees are generally much more reasonable. They do not just buy up patents from other people, but develop them in house.

In addition, the universities use the money from licensing to support their core businesses of teaching and R&D. The money is basically poured back in to developing ideas and minds.

Universities are (generally) not patent trolls. They are, in this area, R&D facilities pushing forward human knowledge.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Apple thieves - what a surprise

There is some theory that one among the thousands of people who independently came up with the idea should be able get a monopoly on its implementation. If something is so obvious that no-one writes it in a technical journal, it is proof (to a patent lawyer) that the idea is unique and valuable.

Many things seem obvious after the fact. In 1996, nobody had thought of it.

I think you may misunderstand the way engineering works. It is normally small steps, but the fact that it is a small step does not mean it is obvious.

Your example of the Thermos flask actually proves my point. If it was so obvious, why had nobody done it before? Just because you can look at it now and say, "Oh, that's easy, just take this piece of equipment, add this to it, and you've got something much more useful outside the lab" does not mean it should not be patentable. As long as there wasn't another lab tech out there who independently did the same before him, it's a perfectly valid patent.

Also, the theory is not that one among those who independently has an idea gets a monopoly. It is that the first person to come up with the idea gets a monopoly in exchange for publishing his idea.

EDIT: Forgot to add, as the idea was patented, it was also published. It probably can't be proven, but how do we know that an Apple engineer had not read the patent, or about it in some tech publication, or heard about it in discussions at University?

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Shocker: Net anarchist builds sneaky 220v USB stick that fries laptops

Dr. Mouse
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Re: WTF?

that's like picking up a floppy disc (remember them?) and putting it in the PC to "see what's on it". Ok.. maybe I'm paranoid, but I've seen viruses get passed around this way in the distant (a: b: drive era) past.

I remember the old floppy bombs... Lost a drive when a "friend" gave me a floppy and told me it had, erm, content I would have been interested on it. I wasn't happy, and nor was my dad (whose computer it was). Luckily, my "friend" offered to pay for a new one.

This seems like an updated version of that.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Net anarchist?

It would be interesting if you were a criminal. Leave one in the house, labelled as Accounts or similar. Cops raid your place, find the stick, plug it in and: ZAP!

All joking aside, this would mainly be useful for mischief. It's unlikely to do much more than kill a PC, and I could see a miscreant leaving a load lying around. I'm pretty sure there are some people who would pick it up and plug it in to see what was on it, and I'm sure more than one would try a second machine after it fried the first ("I wonder why my laptop isn't working, let'd try it in my desktop").

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Bungling Bonn burglar locks himself into house

Dr. Mouse
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Self-imprisonment

I have to say that, in modern society, I would not be surprised if he tried to sue for this.

However, it calls to mind a story my housemate told me. He was working at a fairly secure warehouse.

One evening, the manager received a call from the security company informing him that someone had broken in to the warehouse. He fired up the remote surveilance cameras, noted the burglars had come in through a sky light, and recognised where they were. He told the security company not to bother attending the scene, and he would be there at 7 in the morning to resolve the issue.

For the next half an hour, hilarity ensued in the warehouse, as the "burglars" discovered they were locked in a security cage. They tried to break through it, break the locks, and climb back up the rope, all to no avail. After this, they were seen yelling at each other for their stupidity. Once they had tired themselves out, all three sat on the floor.

In the morning, the manager arranged for the police to meet him there. He opened up and went to the cage they were held in. As he unlocked the door, the three lads filed out, not saying a word or looking anyone in the eye, straight into the waiting police van, in front of the onlooking crowd (many of them laughing because they knew what had happened) just turning up to start work for the day.

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Facebook's UK wing paid just £4k in corporation tax last year

Dr. Mouse
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Re: £4k?!

Facebook paid the tax due

I know they did. And it doesn't really "grind my gears", so much as it seems unfair.

Now, in the end, they will be paying a lot more than that worldwide. However, I still feel that corporation tax is a waste of time.

My own take on it would be (simplified version):

* Scrap corporation tax.

* Change the rules such that all individuals (including foreign) to pay tax on all UK income at standard income tax rates.

* Tax the money as it leaves the company and is paid to individuals, in the form of dividends, wages, or anything else.

Individuals are less likely* to be able to use fancy accounting to get out of paying tax, and have more to loose (no limited liability etc).

* Yes, I know that there are rich individuals who find a way, and are able to move money outside the country etc, but they have less options available to them than large corporate structures.

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Dr. Mouse
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£4k?!

I pay more tax than that!

Corporation tax is not fit for purpose. I firmly believe it should be scrapped, and all the profit should be taxed (at normal PAYE rates) as it is taken out of the company. Tax individuals, not companies: The companies just avoid it anyway*.

* OK, so do many high-income individuals, but that's a separate matter.

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A thousand mile Atom merci mission: Driving from Monaco to London in an open-topped motor

Dr. Mouse
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Re: lack of self cancelling indicators?

they use a combination of distance and time

Interesting, thank you. That's a really simple method I hadn't thought of.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: lack of self cancelling indicators?

It's actually difficult to set up self cancelling indicators on a motorbike.

In a car, they rely purely on the steering wheel position. On a bike, the handlebars can be in all sorts of positions, and the bike at all sorts of lean angles. One aftermarket system I saw just kept the indicator on for 5s, unless you were holding the brake (e.g. sat at a junction). Other than that, I suspect they will have to judge based on speed, lean angle, steering angle, and probably more parameters in a non-trivial algorithm to determine when you have finished going round a corner.

The other option is to let the rider decide.

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Top VW exec blames car pollution cheatware scandal on 'a couple of software engineers'

Dr. Mouse
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Re: I say we take him at face value...

That should terrify anyone running anything built by VW. If popular press was sharp on ISO 26262 and common software development and project management techniques, this would become the bigger and more damaging story. The half-hearted attempt to throw employees under the bus is as good as saying they have no idea what is going on in their safety critical systems. All of them. Globally. Hopefully someone will think to pull on this thread and see how far it can go.

Exactly!

I used to work for a company which build semiconductors, some of which were automotive grade. Even for such minor components (think in the range from diodes and transistors to switching regulators, but nothing more complex) the complexities of meeting the ISO requirements were high. Everything, from design to testing code to test result storage, needed to be controlled and audited.

If VW are saying any part of their ECU software could have arbitrary code injected by a rogue employee, they are admitting they have no idea what code is in the ECU. How do we know that terrorists haven't infiltrated the company and programmed all the cars' throttles to open wide at a particular time? This would be a very effective terrorist plot, causing vast destruction world wide (think of how many VW diesels are on the motorway at any time!)...

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Dr. Mouse
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I can readily believe that it was the actions of a few rogue employees. I've seen it happen.

Really?! A significant innovation comes through, and no managers whatsoever know either who came up with the idea, nor sought details in order to patent it?!

Yes, rogue engineers of all kinds sometimes slip something under the radar. But this wasn't slipping a back door in or a fudge to work around or hide an issue they couldn't fix, this was a blatant cheat which produced a clear competitive advantage over their rivals. If it had happened and noone in management had known, the engineers (or their dept, or their manager, or his manager etc.) would have had praise heaped on them for saving the company so much money and/or giving them such an edge over their competitors. They would also have immediately asked for the details so that they could patent it before their competitors could copy it.

There is simply no way that knowledge of this could not extend at least a fair way up the management hierarchy. At the very least, there would have been a point where a manager asked about it and was told "it's better that you don't know...".

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Oracle ZFS appliance sales hit $1 billion

Dr. Mouse
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“the world’s fastest-growing cloud"

Obligatory XKCD

https://xkcd.com/1102/

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Tiny Robot Smartphone: Invasion Earth 2016 – prepare to be facially recognised humans

Dr. Mouse
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Impractical as a phone...

but I want one!

It looks like a great toy, especially if it's programmable (as a robot).

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Join Uber in a tale of rent seeking and employment law

Dr. Mouse
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Re: One network?

Uber is effectively the employment agent, arranging contact between a contractor and their customer in return for a commission, says I. In that regard then, no different to any other middleman situation.

This is how I read it, too.

Many who do contracting in the UK work through employment agencies. The agent finds you a contract, and often provides several other services (collecting the money on your behalf, negotiating contracts etc.). They take a commission for doing so.

This is exactly what Uber do. They advertise your services, find you a customer, pass that customer on to you, and collect the money for you. They are providing a set of services to you, in return for payment.

I guess it depends on exactly how the contracts are formed. If the contract is legally between the customer and driver, with the driver having a separate contract for services with Uber, then Uber are effectively an agency. If the contract is between the customer and Uber (which I expect most customers would assume), then they could easily be classed as employees. This will be the point which will likely be played out in the courts.

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Silicon Valley now 'illegal' in Europe: Why Schrems vs Facebook is such a biggie

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Perhaps anything, but probably not

Anyone who thinks the average punter in the EU either knows or cares about this issue is insane.

You are right. But it is not the average punter who will hurt big American corporations in general.

Take our company. We use a US-based hosted ERP/CRM system, and a US based Email service. We are now, overnight, technically breaching DPA. Unless something happens quickly, we may have to change the services we use. We are a small/mid sized business, and our custom will loose these 2 several hundred grand a year. Multiply that up through the number of similar businesses in the UK alone, it will start to hit the bottom line. Add in the rest of Europe, and larger businesses, government departments, etc and it will hurt.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Let me count the ways...

First up, of course emails are not private - that's laid down in the spec.

This much is true. However, emails will likely have personal information in them: Email address, of course, but name, phone number, address, company name, job title etc.

It has been established that the email is to be read by the intended recipient only. If you forward that email on to someone else, especially if the person has put in the email that it is confidential (remember not many users realise that it's trivial to intercept), you could be breaking data protection laws.

What's more, it would be absurd to argue that the recipient is the one sending data to Google - that is, obviously, what the sender has done. Again, that's by definition.

On a completely technical level, yes. However, on a human level they sent that information to you. You then contracted Google (or whoever) to receive and store that data on your behalf. They probably won't even know it's Google: a business would be using their own domain etc. The email is addressed to you, not to Google, so the sender is sending it to you.

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Rise of der Maschinen: Daimler trials ROBOT LORRY in Germany

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Wrong!

@moiety

I will agree on the fact that there are many "unofficial" signals used on the road. My point was merely that relying on a driver, especially in another country, using those signals is dangerous. If I see someone flashing me out of a junction, or flashing to let me out/in on a motorway, I make sure there is some other cue that I have correctly understood: Changes of speed or direction, looking (if possible) at the driver's face, road positioning etc.

I have seen the lorry "flash to let you know that you are clear" signal for pulling in or out. I can see it's benefits. But if a car was flying up the lane next to you and flashed at you, without slowing down or giving any other information, it would be rather silly to assume they were letting you in/out.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Wrong!

The bulb is working at least half of the time

Love it!

My motorcycle instructor, however, at one point threatened to hook the indicators up to electrodes attached to my nether region to remind me to cancel them... I don't have that issue any more, but it took a long time for me to get used to them not auto-cancelling like in a car.

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Dr. Mouse
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Wrong!

Also -as it's Germany- here's some advice from the rest of Europe: In most of Europe; when a lorry is indicating to come out and overtake; a driver behind flashing their lights means "It's safe mate, come on out"; whereas a German driver flashing means (apparently) "Fuck off peasant, I'm coming through".

While it is common practice to "flash someone out" of a junction, it should NEVER be relied upon by ANYONE. Do you remember your highway code?

Rule 110

Flashing headlights. Only flash your headlights to let other road users know that you are there. Do not flash your headlights to convey any other message or intimidate other road users.

[https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-highway-code/general-rules-techniques-and-advice-for-all-drivers-and-riders-103-to-158]

You should always make sure that other indications are there (road positioning, change of speed, etc.) before deciding that the flash is inviting you to pull out. They could be flashing at another road user, or have caught the control by mistake, or be flashing to warn you that you have just edged forward but they are coming through. In the same way, you should never assume that an indicator being on is saying "I will be turning here". They could be intending to take the next and be indicating too soon, or intending to pull over just after the junction. Again, it could be a mistake, too, leaving it on and it not auto-cancelling, or just caught by accident.

It is up to you to judge what is happening, and signals cannot be relied upon. If that car had hit you, it would be 100% your fault.

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Safe Harbour ruled INVALID: Facebook 'n' pals' data slurp at risk

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Monolithic global companies

Monolithic global companies ... Simply can't deal with multiple sets of legislation

Actually, I think you'll find it comes down to the American government can't respect the rules and laws of foreign countries.

Facebook has probably* been complying as much as it is able to, but if the US govt says "hand over this data", they have no choice but to comply. This makes it incompatible with EU data protection laws.

* OK, prbably to the minimum extent allowable, pushing the boundaries as far as they think they can get away with, but still probably technically in compliance except for demands from the US govt.

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Search engine can find the VPN that NUCLEAR PLANT boss DIDN'T KNOW was there - report

Dr. Mouse
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"lack of executive-level awareness"

Is this not a fundamental global law? Executives are unaware of anything but the bottom line.

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So, what's happening with LOHAN? Sweet FAA, that's what

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Denmark?

What about moving the launch from New Mexico to (Old) Mexico?

Everything's legal in Mehico. It's the American way!

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OnePlus 2: Disappointing Second Album syndrome strikes again

Dr. Mouse
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I agree that there are issues, but I'm happy with mine.

I don't find the battery life bad (I get about a day and a half to two days on a charge). I would have liked fast charge but it's not a deal breaker for me (I've never had it). And, right now, NFC has little use in the UK. I have only every used it to mess around (reading my passport and using a few stick-on tags).

However, once Android Pay launches in the UK, I may regret it. I hadn't heard about the lack of NFC before I bought it, and it may have affected my decision. I don't quite understand why they omitted it just as the tech is about to become useful...

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NOxious Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal: Chief falls on sword

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Not all need to be recalled.

and the price would be set JUST before the scandal broke

Unfortunately I doubt this would happen.

I have a friend who bought a house in a little area surrounded by farmers fields. Planning permission went in, and was granted, for a warehouse to be built, basically around the house. The company building the warehouse have now offered to buy the house, but at the current market rate. This is over £100k less than it was before they got planning permission, and will leave them significantly out of pocket.

If they do offer to buy back the cars, it will likely be at the current market value, significantly reduced from the value pre-scandal.

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11 MILLION VW cars used Dieselgate cheatware – what the clutch, Volkswagen?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: "Wide Open Throttle"

One other thing: diesel fuel is taxed less than it should be in comparison to petrol. If the tax reflected the energy content of the fuels, then modern petrol-engined cars would look better value even to long-distance motorists.

I think you'll find the tax per MJ is not too different.

ULS diesel & petrol are both taxed at 58p/l. For petrol, this gives about 1.7p/MJ, and diesel approx 1.5p/MJ. To increase diesel to petrol levels would be approx 7.5p/l increase to diesel tax.

While this is a fair increase (12% in tax, or about 7% in the total current cost of fuel), for long distance running most would get a much larger increase in fuel efficiency over a petrol engine. They would still be paying much less per mile than the equivalent petrol car.

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CHEAT! Volkswagen chief 'deeply sorry' over diesel emission test dodge

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Hmm...

If I drive making 'effective progress' I get a pretty reasonable (for the performance) high 40s / low 50s mpg. However, if I really back off on the throttle (keeping the same sort of top speeds, but really accelerating slowly and coasting to decelerate) it jumps straight to low or even mid 60s.

I experienced very different behaviour in my Bora 1.9TDi (130PS). If I drove how I normally had on my standard route to work, I got around 55mpg (it was mostly motorway). I tried the method you suggest, and got a tiny improvement, pretty much negligible.

I then really got down to it. The end result was using full throttle acceleration, up to 2.5-3k RPM, except on my main acceleration up to motorway speeds where I pushed the revs further (better for the turbo, as long as the engine was hot by then). As soon as I got to my cruising speed, I went into pulse & glide in 6th (where safe to do so).

My results were: at 80mph cruise, I maintained the 55mpg I had been getting at 70 before. At 70mph, I got ITRO 60mpg. At 60mph, I never got less than 65mpg, often reaching 70.

I clocked the time difference, too: Less than 5mins for my journey, next to nothing. I was also much more relaxed when I reached my destination. As soon as I realised, my journeys stuck to 60mph, with occasional overtaking blasts up to 70 (so as not to be inconsiderate), with P&G where safe to do so in a range of approx +/-3mph.

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You want the poor to have more money? Well, doh! Splash the cash

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Need to tax fun

Let the time of each be valued equally - sufficient for life, and let all contribute.

Interesting. However, if you value everyone's time equally, there is little incentive for a person to better themselves.

Let us take 2 people. A is highly intelligent, B is near the bottom end of the intelligence scale. A could be a scientists, or a mathematician, or an engineer. B can only do "menial" work, labouring or stacking shelves. In our system, A would go to university and get a good, well paid job. B would work for a supermarket. They would both do their best, to achieve the best wages and/or quality of life they possibly can.

Now, move to a world where all time is valued equally. While going to university, getting a good education and getting a good job can be their own rewards, they often come with a great deal of stress. As all jobs are valued equally, what is to stop A from taking a job which does not tax him? He could work as a low-end office worker, pushing papers. Boring, yes, but easy and stress free. He can coast through life, getting paid exactly the same as someone of the same intelligence who chooses to work hard. He is also depriving the world of his contribution. Meanwhile, B is in the same position as before, albeit with possibly a little more pay.

So, to make this fair, we would need to grade people on their abilities, and pay them in relation to the "effort" they put in, and how close to their maximum potential they are working. But how would one objectively measure this?

So, as you can see, this is not a simple system to administer fairly. It would be easier to administer it fairly than the current system, but is more likely to create an unfair system where effort is not rewarded.

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BOFH: Press 1. Press 2. Press whatever you damn well LIKE

Dr. Mouse
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Brilliant, as per usual!

Instead of the most effective solution – jumping off the balcony...

Amen to that! As for the rest in that block, be glad you don't work here. Every time I suggest to the boss that we get standardised, supported kit, I get told it's too expensive. We now support 4 different OS's on around 10 makes of machine across several sites, all with different specs, drivers etc. We have no installation media, no idea which machine is which, and to top it all off he wants to get rid of the one AD DC we have (serving only one site, the rest using local accounts because having servers there is "a waste of money").

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Burn ALL the COAL, OIL – NO danger of SEA LEVEL rise this century from Antarctic ice melt

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Someone tell the government then

You might want to think about that when you see hauliers agitating for higher road masses.

BUT, if we increase the taxes on haulage, the cost of all our goods increases.

Of course, this neglects the simple fact that more freight should be carried by train, which is a much more efficient and effective method of transportation. This would require huge investment, though, both in the infrastructure and in new warehouses closer to railways, as the rail infrastructure has been run into the ground already, and warehouses are currently located for easy road access, not rail.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Someone tell the government then

Tax fuel directly - higher mpg cars will pay less anyway because they are more efficient and high-milers will pay more as they produce more pollution.

So many people have been calling for exactly that for so many years. Reassign the tax onto fuel in a collection-neutral manner (i.e. equal tax take) and you will see more of the money, as there is less admin.

The only real issues I see come from haulage and similar. I'm pretty sure that haulage co's would go out of business if the tax was just put on fuel, as they would end up paying a higher proportion, so this would need some form of rebate.

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Ahmed's clock wasn't a bomb, but it blew up the 'net and Zuckerberg, Obama want to meet him

Dr. Mouse
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Joke

the police arrested him for hoax bomb, when he wouldn't tell them what it was for other than "it is a clock".

And rightly so! Who the heck knows what this "clock" thing is? He should have explained what it was for in words simple enough to understand, not rant about this fancy schmancy "clock" thing, whatever that is.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: @Neil Barnes

I think it is the school and police response that seems to be very unbalanced...

I completely agree. To arrest him, given that they could obviously see it was NOT a bomb (the fact that they didn't evacuate the school proves this), was overreaction in the extreme. Similarly, for the school to call the cops without evacuating seems OTT.

It does not matter what, how, who and where. If there is no ongoing incident of the "dead bodies" variety, you are _OBLIGED_ to call the parents first even if you also call the police. Anything else aside, the law requires them to be present if the minor is to be interrogated outside of an "active shooter" context.

I always thought so, too, although I'm no expert on US law (all I know comes from TV shows and the media). I suspect they (ab)used the "terr'ism" laws to justify this...

One look at this kid and the cops nerd alerts should have been going off.

To be honest, this one is a straw man. Do you think that no "nerds" are ever recruited (or coerced/brainwashed/conned) by criminal elements? I still think it was all an insane overreaction, but the fact that a suspect "is a nerd" makes very little difference, just as it should make little difference that he has brown skin.

Bullshit FERPA now exists mostly to allow schools to hide how much they have covered up rape and other investigations.

It always makes me laugh (in a bad way) when I hear people and organisations using privacy laws to cover up wrong doing.

This is how this played out in the local news media: ...

That was a very interesting and informative comment, a rarity on El Reg's forums. Thank you.

It certainly wouldn't surprise me if Obama (or his team) called the local cops and told them to stop being idiots. This kind of response makes the USA look stupid and racist to the rest of the world (as if we need any more ammunition in that argument). I'm not saying all Americans are, but we get very regular news coverage showing at least what appears to be racist and idiotic behaviour. This is just the latest example.

Gauging public risk implies a certain degree of common sense. That seems to have been eliminated from the Gene pool of people that join the police forces in the USofA.

No offence meant to police officers out there, but I think law enforcement tends to attract the wrong people. Cops have a lot of power, but do not need the intelligence required by most positions which give people power, so it will attract power-hungry idiots. Again, no offence to police officers, I know not all are like this, but some are. These are the people who react like this. They are also the type of cop who assumes they know the law and will not budge, even given evidence to the contrary.

I site as a much tamer example the time I was harassed by my landlord and landlady. They tried to evict me with no good reason. When I refused, they started trying to force me out through intimidation. Eventually, it all came to a head when they let themselves in to the house and tried to remove "their property" (as they put it) in the form of all the appliances and furniture.

I called the police. The cops told me it was "a civil matter". I had been prepared for this by CAB. The lady I spoke to there said that she toured police stations letting them know about these laws. I showed them documentation on the laws involved and police guidance on the matter (what they were doing was a criminal offence). The police refused to even acknowledge this, although at least they got my landlords to leave.

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The 'vampire squid' wants a bankers' blockchain

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Questions?

Surely they would need to create their own, proprietory system and map their existing assets onto it?

If I am understanding correctly, they are not using the BTC blockchain, but using the BTC blockchain code, modified for their own purposes, to start their own blockchain to act as a ledger for their own transactions. Which actually makes sense, as the blockchain is just a distributed cryptographic ledger.

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How green is your ROCKET FUEL?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Hmm... A new name...

Well, how about 'Up-Goer Juice'? ... Yes, I have been watching Idiocracy, how could you tell?

I thought you were awaiting the release of "Thing Explainer" with as much excitement as I am

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How did jihadists hack into top UK ministerial emails if no security breach took place?

Dr. Mouse
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Can I just say that this actually makes sense to me.

A person could very well hack a system, by my definition of the word, but not breach it. You do not need to successfully break in to a system to be hacking. A failed attempt to break in is still a hack.

In the same way, it would be a cyber attack, just as a bunch of enemy fighters raiding an encampment is an attack even if they do not manage to kill anyone or inflict any damage. The attack still occurred, whether it was successful or not.

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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
Silver badge

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
Silver badge

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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