17 posts • joined 24 Jan 2010
At least nobody was using a catapoolt to sling the feline faeces
Dear Mr Cameron
The problem with surveillance is not that it is there but that there is no natural border at which to say "No more".
By your standard, virtually any surveillance that reduces the potential risk from our foes and increases the apparent security of our friends (and ourselves) is acceptable — currently within a fairly bendable framework of privacy protection that either gets ignored or, if sufficiently many people start complaining of having their constitutional rights trampled upon, changed.
So, where is the limit? Should the movements of every vehicle in the UK be registered? More surveillance cameras? Face tracking technology? Laws against any measures that counter surveillance technology? (So long niqāb.) Checkpoints at strategic places where everyone crossing have their papers checked? (USSR, anyone?) ...?
Why not, once and for all, just suggest that we all get an RFID device implanted shortly after birth. A device that can be read at least from a couple of hundred yards and it could be connected to the cerebral cortex so it could not be removed without killing the wearer. (I never though I would thank L Ron Hubbard for anything, but part of that idea is lifted from his novel, Battlefield Earth.) Make it a felony on par with murder to tamper with the device or hamper any tracking abilities of the government. Scatter readers at every possible point where more than a few people would pass and voilà, security is increased by orders of magnitude! ... Apparently.
My point, Mr Cameron, is that more needs more and without natural limits/borders it will end up in a scenario like the one above, which is why we need to end this madness now!
Er, Ah, Identical Twin Sister ...?
I thought (but hey, I am just me) that identical twins had to, sort of, be the same -- whatsamait called again? -- sex!
What Could Go Wrong?
OK, DRM. What on Earth could go wrong here?
Our household has four laptops and one stationary PC, all Linux -- that couldn't go wrong, could it? Or the upgrade to OpenBSD? Or to Haiku?
If I like "Debbie Does Dallas" or anything of that kin and felt a bit timid about it -- I wouldn't mind the people knowing, would I?
If the family plans to go to Northumberland (or somewhere else sufficiently far away from where we live) and plan to bring some entertainment for the car (which for some reason is always the last thing happening before the "I need the toilet") when the Internet is down and the selections are not registered to the car's player -- how could that go wrong?
My wife and I break up and want to split our stash of entertainment (or one of the children moves out and we want to donate some of our movies) -- no problem, eh?
Anybody know the answers to these problems?
Re. In what other profession
@JimC: I think you missed my point slightly. When I mention "profession", I mean other, more or less creative, jobs, like secretaries, plumbers, doctors, salarymen, ... Shares in a business and renting a house out is not exactly a profession by my standard (Cambridge dictionary on profession: any type of work which needs special training or a particular skill ...) Investing in a business is hardly the same, as you lend the business some money and expect some dividend in return. When renting out a house, you give up a tangible asset (the house) to somebody for a consideration (the rent). Investing in a pension fund, you give up an asset (your money, just like investing in a business) and expect a dividend in return.
Nobody stops artists from investing in a business or a pension fund or renting out property, just like us other mortals.
Think about the "good old days" of geniuses like Mozart and Beethoven, they did not earn a thing from other people performing their music, they were, to some extent, salaried by people like Prince-Archbishop Hieronymus Colloredo (Mozart) or under patronage from people like Archduke Rudolph (Beethoven). Mozart was more or less destitute a few times from lack of employment.
I do not mind artists earning money from a reasonable copyright term, neither do I envy their income from concerts and such, but I cannot see the reason behind their children and grandchildren getting a direct income from the artist's copyrighted work without having to lift a finger or invest in one way or another.
And I definitely cannot see still, how a longer copyright term spurs more creative innovation -- and that *is* the stated purpose of copyright ... or did I miss something there?
Let's get this straight
I know I am singing to the chorus and preaching to the converts and what not, but I just cannot help myself anymore.
Can somebody *please* explain to me, how important it is for the development of *new* art to have this extension? In plain English too, please!
In what other profession are you guaranteed an income from your work in what is basically the rest of your lifetime? None, to my knowledge.
When it comes to *creating* new art, I do not think it really matters much to the artist whether the copyright is 20 years, 50 years or 70 years. Few artists work that way and to be honest, how many (budding) artists are generally recognised 10 or more years later? Joshuan Kadison? Vanessa Carlton? F. R. David? Thought so.
I'll just step down, dust my soapbox off and trot home now.
Drat and Bother, I Missed the Poll
Since I lost interest in BOFH, I seem visit El Reg so rarely as to miss a poll like this. Bother and piffle!
But after reading Peter F Hamilton's books Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained, I think *they* would make a good epic or two to film. Is Mr Hamilton on the list at all?
Ah, well, I will just have my thoughts linger here, near the end of the comments.
Confession: I have not actually worked with Natty Narwhal but I have had some experience with OS X (and earlier versions of MacOS).
If "global menus" means the silly idea that Apple has carried over from the early versions of MacOS, i.e. that the menus are always at the top of the screen, no matter the size and position of the application window, it is a very bad idea for mouse users (and probably for finger-poking fondlers too).
If I have a small window at the bottom of my 24 inch screen, I do not want to move the mouse all the way to the top of the screen to get to the menu, only to have to move it all the way back down again to do something in the window.
Admittedly, I do prefer to use keyboard shortcuts whenever I can, but often find that Linux (in most of its adaptations) does not support some keyboard shortcuts or they are counterintuitive or not consistent across applications or conflict in certain circumstances. And well, sometimes you have to use the mouse, no matter what.
If I can easily configure the menus to behave in the good old way, I do not mind too much, but if it is set in stone, I must object.
It is interesting to see the development from my first graphical Linux/Unix experiences on SunOS with a very simple window manager (xwm, I think it was) to KDE (which I gave up due to losing menu itmes and not being able to restore them easily) to Gnome (which I gave up as I needed too much real estate on my netbook and because it was starting to get bloated) and now Unity, which I may have to give up if Ubuntu keeps making silly UI decisions.
Sr = Señor not Señorita
Always the stickler, I read "Sr" as the (former) nun's "title", but to the best of my knowledge, "Sr" is the abbreviation of "Señor". So, unless she has had gender reassignment or been quick to get married after being expelled from the convent, I would expect her to be a señorita and thus "Srta" -- in case she has been married, she should be "señora", "Sra".
I might, obviously, be completely off on this and "Sr" meaning something completely different -- and appropriate -- in this context, thus making an arse of myself! (That would certainly not be the first time ;-)
Me too ... Sort of ... Or not ...
This is one of those discussions that seem to be pseudo-religious at times, like so many other computer discussions.
Personally I am sitting nicely on the fence, using cloud-based systems for front-end, user-facing systems that contain no real "secrets" (and absolutely NO personal information) -- everything else is on internal systems in three locations in two countries.
This is made possible by a collaboration with two other companies where we co-locate servers at each other's facilities.
Redundant, business-critical systems?
Time-machine-like automated backup of users' systems?
+ Check! (Implemented with rsync)
Instead of using partners, the same functionality could conceivably be achieved with cloud-based solutions, but I would NEVER consider off-loading all my data to non-local servers.
Empty server room? Not here, I'm afraid.
Re: Windows and limited users .. nightmare. ... NOT
The few times I have had a problem changing parameters that required administrator rights, I have logged in as the Administrator, changed my account to an administrator account, logged back in as myself, changed the parameters, gone back as the Administrator and changed myself back to a non-administrator again.
Problem solved (albeit not in the most fashionable and easy way).
What I find irritating, though, are the programs that keep writing information to some odd file in some odd subdirectory that I, as a "normal" user, do not have rights to use, which requires some hunting and gratuitous use of CACLS to give myself access to do the changes. Personally, I hate the Registry, but now it is there, the software should use it!
Let us Get Rid of the Term 'Piracy'
I may be chasing an old idea (and lost cause) here, but all the same: Let us get rid of the term 'Piracy' once and for all.
Piracy means attacking (a ship) to steal from it (or hold people at ransom ...or both). Apart from piracy's previous maritime only connection, attack implies violence, which is not (normally, at least) the case in illegal copying of software. Steal implies taking something without permission, thereby depriving the previous owner of whatever is stolen -- even when used in a more metaphorical sense, like 'stealing the moment'. Illegal copying does not deprive the previous owner of whatever is copied.
I am not writing this to support illegal copying and I am not saying that illegal copying does not indirectly deprive the original owner of money in lost earnings ... and I have no better alternative to the term either, but I find the original implication of violence and deprivation misleading (and wrong, really), and fear it keeps sidetracking the real issues of illegal copying.
OK, I will take my soapbox and leave the scene for now.
A Little about the Specs
According to the specification overview on the WHDI™ website, it has got the following specifications (with my comments):
* Video rates <= 3 Gbps
* Uncompressed transmission
* Range > 100 feet (or 30 metres for the few of us that prefer metric ;-) through walls (!!!)
* Latency < 1 ms (should be good enough for gaming and probably implies no encryption as that would impact latency and since they do not mention encryption either)
* Element prioritisation
As they do not compress the signal and since they utilise the bandwidth extremely well, they did a tradeoff in the error detection/correction department instead by giving video elements of high visibility more error detection/correction bits and elements with less visibility fewer (or maybe even none). This means that any transmission problems would primarily manifest themselves in the less discernible elements of the picture, whereas trasnmission problems in the more discernible elements would be error corrected. (If I understand it correctly, they are in fact protecting the most significant bits of the signal better than the least significant bits.)
Thus no compression, but a similar effect (i.e. missing parts of the picture/artifacts) if you are in an environment with much noise or using it over relatively long distances. The 100 feet claim does not say if that is with a perfect transmission.
For a four year period I did some serious commuting and in my experience, the phone is not the worst culprit.
What did I experience? Lessee:
Lorries with drivers that had been driving for ages, apparently without sleep. One managed to drive at full pelt inside a protective railing and crash into a bridge. The cabin part was compressed to half size! He could as easily have massacered a queue of cars, but he left that to some of his colleagues. Another lorry driver was taking advantage of the full width of the motorway, swerving back and forth through all three lanes AND the hard shoulder. And what about the poor guys that realise too late that they are almost missing the exit and turn so sharply that the lorry overturns. These are creating quite a bit more accidents than people on the mobile phone, especially if it is hands free.
Other people have mentioned make-up and shaving as distractions; I can add to that reading and watching movies. I have seen people driving with books (and maps, of course) on the steering wheel, that cannot be good. And I have seen at least two cases (OK, that is probably not quite as ubiquitous as the phone :-) I remember of people with some sort of media player/DVD player on top of the dashborad showing a movie. Distracting? I'd think so!
Let us quickly put this suggestion to rest. This is obviously made by some politician who has not had his monthly/weekly/daily shot of "fame" and need something that gets a reaction ... and, Hey Presto, he got it!
First of all, I could not see the video (Sileverlight required?) on my XP with Firefox. Almost 100% CPU until closed down manually. Duh! Found some other Microsoft produced videos against OOo on YouTube instead.
Secondly, Microsoft seems to talk about the difficulty of changing from MS Office to OpenOffice.org -- how about changing from one version of MS Office to the next? I have had quite a few calls from my less IT-savvy friends after they upgraded to a newer version of MS Office. Calls like "How do I do this now? It used to be in ..." I cannot help anymore as I stopped at MS Office 2003 and have not looked at any of the newer versions. I have, in fact, not even seen the Ribbon in real life!
Thirdly, apart from big organisations (or organisations with very IT-savvy people), macros seem to be rarely used. And, as other people have said in their posts, macros can be pure hell to maintain -- especially when the original creator has left the building.
Fourthly, relatively few people use more than the absolute basic functions of the program and using MS Office is mostly due to apparent lock-in and the "Lemming Effect".
Fifthly, the cost of maintenance, especially in the bigger organisations that use more than just the most basic functions, is huge.
Sixthly, the cost of MS Office is too high (even the Student Home Edition or whatever it is called) -- especially when compared to the actual functionality used by most people.
Seventhly, MS Office interoperability with other products (even previous versions of the program) is, to put it mildly, seriously lacking.
I find it difficult to accept that so many organisations (especially public bodies) that seriously lack money keep paying over the top for MS Office despite having a number of perfectly good alternative choices. I also find it difficult to understand that governments accept that some solutions that most (if not all) departments have to report into or use, demand the use of MS Office. Some organisations cannot archive their documents unless they are in MS Word format!
I keep MS Office 2003 as I often have to deliver proposals and reports in MS Office format (by customer demand) and I need to be fairly sure that what I write is what they see -- properly formatted. This is currently not guaranteed when using other products to make MS Word files.
So, all in all, I do use MS Word, but only because it is the only program that "interoperates" with MS Word -- i.e. vendor lock-in. Sigh!
More Damn Lies ... Er, Statistics
Somebody MUST stop this bloody nonsense.
I have tried looking a little at statistics on terrorism compared to road accidents (in USA) and/or pneumonia+influenza, which gives these numbers:
Total number of deaths from International and Domestic terrorism since 1968: 90,388 (this is by using the HIGHEST figures for any given year of data from US DOS, US NCTC and RAND/MIPT).
Average yearly deaths from car accidents in USA (1980 - 2007): 43,113.
Average number of deaths from pneumonia and influenza in USA (1996 - 2006): 69,360. In the UK (2000 - 2004): 37,489.
So the number of terror killings in 40 years ALL OVER THE WORLD corresponds roughly to two years worth of deaths from American car accidents or the number of people dying from penumonia and influenza each year in USA and UK combined.
So I don't really worry much about terrorism ... but don't you dare cough in my direction!
Not the "Child Porn" Scanner
It looks to me (and from what I could glean from the German conversation) that this scanner is actually a passive infrared scanner and not the milimeter wave ("Child Porn") scanner much talked about.
If I am right, this scanner works by looking at items blocking your body heat, which makes detection of items in the side pockets (as here) all but impossible without a side scan. And obviously inside your mouth too, which the milimeter scanner cannot do either, btw. The same for items under your wig, in your crotch and under your shoes. ... Do I have to mention ears, nose and anus?
Passive infrared? Nah!
Milimeter waves? Why bother?
- 'Kim Kardashian snaps naked selfies with a BLACKBERRY'. *Twitterati gasps*
- Crawling from the Wreckage THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models
- Pics Facebook's Oculus unveils 360-degree VR head tracking Crescent Bay prototype
- Bargain basement iPhone shoppers BEWARE! eBay exposes users to phishing vuln
- Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp