* Posts by Malcolm Weir

299 posts • joined 23 May 2007

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Hey, Apple! We can land a probe on a comet, but we can't have a 12.9in iPad 'until mid-2015'?

Malcolm Weir

@jof62

DOA? It's landed, it's sending data, and the thing has plenty of work it can do even if the 64 hour battery is all the power it gets.

So by any stretch of the imagination it has "A", and it is not "D", which leaves "O", and that's accurate: it is ON a comet.

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Welcome to the fast-moving world of flash connectors

Malcolm Weir

I find this article technically incoherent. And sometimes dead wrong.

For example, the assertion that mSATA is not electrically compatible with mPCIe is just wrong. They can be. Not every implementation is, but the two sets of signals can co-exist on the same connector, so that seems to suggest (to me) that they are electrically compatible, but not interoperable. Or something.

Also, Fibre Channel is not the same as SCSI FCP. This would be an OK generalization to make, exceot that the earlier bit about iSCSI suggests the author at least understands the difference between a command protocol and the transport protocol, although for the rest of the article he forgets it!

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Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST

Malcolm Weir

Re: Blown up not blew up

That's simply not true. The Range Safety Officer is there to ensure that the vehicle does not deviate from the approved track far enough to risk damage to people or property. In particular, if the vehicle becomes uncontrollable, the RSO will terminate the flight so that it will falls within the range's designated volume (airspace and floorplan).

Following a catastrophic event, the RSO may well try to terminate the flight, but the emphasis here is on the word _following_. The reason terminating a flight that is already exploding is that no-one wants (e.g.) the second stage to ignite and go barreling off to see what it can see [Yeah, I know, massively unlikely, but not impossible].

So this isn't semantics: from the looks of things, Antares blew up. The RSO may have aborted the flight, too, but if you watch the video closely, that would have been while the vehicle was moving backwards...

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Blown up not blew up

In my humble opinion, that did not look like the Range Safety guy hit the big red Flight Termination Button.

Three reasons:

1) terminating a flight so soon is likely to achieve exactly what happened -- the vehicle falls back on the expensive launch infrastructure, causing lots of damage. Waiting another 10 seconds or so would have put the vehicle over water.

2) The time from ignition to explosion was about 6 seconds. That's very little time to identify an anomaly, conclude that the anomaly was sufficiently serious that the flight was no a risk, and abort it.

3) The range safety officer is a NASA guy. If NASA blew the thing up, I reckon Orbital would have said something about it, just to share the misery.

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Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness

Malcolm Weir

Re: Lawyers

While it is true that BGA packages are supplied with the solder attached, it is a blatant falsehood to claim that there's "nothing the user can do" (which in this case, "the user" means "Apple").

The principal thing that Apple could have done is...

WRITE "DON'T USE LEAD-FREE SOLDER" on the Purchase Order contract!

Simples!

Yes, you need to fill in more paperwork, but the major issue becomes that you need to manage some kind of disposal program, and pay for it. Which costs money, which is why (presumably) Apple made the calculated decision to use the technically inferior lead-free solder.

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Martha Lane Fox: YEUCH! The Internet is MADE by MEN?!?

Malcolm Weir

Would it help to point out that the instruction set in MLF's smartphone[1] was designed by a woman[2]?

[1] Probably

[2] Although she wasn't one at the time

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Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’

Malcolm Weir

Re: UK.gov investing in the future of IT. IT people up in arms...

I was going to just upvote Phil Endecott, but decided that the point was so apt it deserved applause.

The real places where innovation has spawned are those where the smart, industrious, creative, inventive individuals _already are_. For instance, one individual we know as engaged in "graduate study in computer science at Stanford University on a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation"... and there's a reason that the world's most successful CPU manufacturer is based in a swamp in East Anglia!

(When I say "we know", I mean we all know. Google him!).

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Every billionaire needs a PANZER TANK, right? STOP THERE, Paul Allen

Malcolm Weir

It's not operable without ammunition, which isn't included in the deal, and by the way, your tin foil hat is slipping.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Golan Heights

This is an ex-Syrian Panzer...

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Malcolm Weir

Re: So you are entering into a $2.5 million dollar deal to buy a tank...

There is a paper trail. It says what you'd expect:

Allen: "How much for the tank?"

Them: "2.5 mil"

Allen: "Done. Where do we send the dosh?"

Them: "Here".

Allen: "Done".

Them: "All your stuff, including the tank, will be shipped to this marshalling yard".

(days go by...)

(Everything but the tank gets delivered).

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IT blokes: would you say that LEWD comment to a man? Then don't say it to a woman

Malcolm Weir

Re: You'll Get The Respect You Deserve

"Don Jefe",

Based on your comment, I suspect you get little respect, because you sure as stit don't deserve any.

What you've done is turn the tables on the victims: don't want to be raped? Learn self defense and carry a machine pistol! Woot! Simples!

That is pretty vile.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Another solution

If people would stay in hermetically-sealed boxes, they wouldn't get into touch-related trouble, full stop.

Zoopy obviously sees no value in alcohol as a "social lubricant". Equally obviously, he's wrong: alcohol has value, sometimes a LOT of value in helping to promote interaction between people who might otherwise not have communicated.

So what Zoopy probably meant to convey instead of the simplistic and extremist position given was that (in Zoopy's opinion) the value of having alcohol is outweighed by the poor behavior exhibited by some people who have it. Which is a fine, if trite, observation, even if it is one that most adults seem to reject: some sales people drive company cars poorly, so by Zoopy's thinking, we should discourage the use of company cars...

Focus, Zoopy: the problem is poor behavior.

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Cracking copyright law: How a simian selfie stunt could make a monkey out of Wikipedia

Malcolm Weir

There's a bogus claim that doesn't appear to fit with the facts of the case.

The issues of originality are basically:

(i) specialities of angle of shot, light and shade, exposure and effects achieved with filters, developing techniques and so on; (ii) the creation of the scene to be photographed; (iii) being in the right place at the right time.

Slater didn't set up the shot, the lighting, etc. Slater didn't create the scene to be photographed. And finally Slater wasn't in the right place at the right time: he wasn't actually there at all.

Of course, if he'd set up the shot with a "photo trap" type system, then his absence wouldn't matter, but what even he agrees happened was that he just left the equipment while he wandered off, and the monkey did the rest; critically, he didn't arrange for the monkey to be able to get the camera, he just left the thing alone while he did something else.

Now, had he been smart about this, he'd have ONLY released images that he had post-processed in some way (thereby adding his creativity), but that of course reduces the "authenticity" (and thus the value) of the shot.

The fundamental flaw here is that by promoting the shot as a selfie, he's explicitly admitting that he didn't take the shot. Given he didn't take the shot, it's a desperate stretch to claim that Berne automatically gives him copyright; he wasn't the creator.

Sure, you could argue that he was instrumental in creating the shot, because he set up the camera and collected the results. But under that thinking, you'd have to grant a copyright involvement to the FedEx driver who delivered the camera to you...

Slater doesn’t fulfill every single criterion – but then he doesn’t have to. He has to meet enough. As Tierney explains:

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Container-friendly Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 hits general availability

Malcolm Weir

Yes.

Whether it works (for you, for any value of "you") or not is a slightly larger question.

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Marc Andreessen: Edward Snowden is a 'textbook traitor'

Malcolm Weir

OK, I'll bite:

If everyone knew what the NSA was doing, how can anyone accuse Snowden of treason?

On the other hand, if what the NSA was doing was massively (TS//SI//TK//NOFORN) secret, then one might be able to credible accuse Snowden of treachery, but one might also raise the question of why the NSA expended the effort to circumvent the rubber stamp FISA court...

Even Dianne Feinstein has objected to the behavior of the intelligence agencies, which confirms that their are objections to be levelled. Whether or not those objections justify the actions Snowden took is another matter.

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Android is a BURNING 'hellstew' of malware, cackles Apple's Cook

Malcolm Weir

@45RPM... I've watched the "wars" over the years, and I have to say that in my analysis, there is very little "pro Windows" or "pro Android" sentiment in the abstract. Instead, there is a strong anti-Apple one, and the reasons usually boil down to the same simple concept: if you don't want to go "the Apple way" (e.g. use a different graphics card), the Apple universe abandons/blocks/attacks you. So people who want choice (in desktops, laptops and phones) look at Apple as a one-size-fits-all dictatorship, and are repelled towards "something else" (actually, "anything else"). Where this becomes obvious is that you cannot honestly compare iOS with Android, because you cannot isolate iOS from the handset; instead, you should compare an iPhone with (e.g.) a Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus, HTC One, or whatever. Likewise, you can't really compare MacOS with Windows 8 or ChromeOS, but rather the entire platform including the hardware -- and you may find a Dell a better experience than an HP, even with the same software.

This concept plays nicely into Apple's marketing, because they have figured out how to project an idea of excellence, even when the idea isn't really supportable. Yes, they frequently do produce products that are top class, but very very rarely so exceptional that they're in a class of their own (one example where they did was with Final Cut Pro before version X; FCP X has of course destroyed any technical lead that they had). If you can convince people that Apple are genuinely "the innovators" while "the other guys" are not, then they'll perceive controversy where there really isn't one. So by Apple's marketing, the absence of choice is a virtue, not a drawback.

So speaking personally, one of my objection to iPhones is not the fact of the walled garden, but the fact of the singular garden.

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Apple vows to squash iMessage SMS-KILLER

Malcolm Weir

I'm sure all those who, in the thread about the lawsuit on this particular issue, stridently insisted that the problem didn't exist will now issue gracious retractions of their comments, and apologies if appropriate!

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iPhone-stroker-turned-fandroid sues Apple over iMessage text-slurpery

Malcolm Weir

Re: I don't care..

Sauce for the goose....

How much money did Apple win for bogusly pretending they inventing rounded corners? This is about 0.5% of that.

Seems much more reasonable in that context.

(Of course, neither are reasonable in any real-world context, but never mind...)

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Malcolm Weir

@hypernovasoftware: your comment is even more ridiculous.

The problem is not whether iMessage works on anything else, BUT HOW DO YOU CONVINCE iMESSAGE FROM TRYING ANYWAY!

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Malcolm Weir

@jonnieboyrace: yes, that's what's supposed to happen. Now go and read the suit, and learn that it isn't.

Have a day.

Meanwhile, the "correct" solution is easy to describe (it's just like email: try for X days, then return to sender as undeliverable, with the added wrinkle that in the event of a return-to-sender notification, it would be appropriate to "revert" the delivery mechanism back to SMS, which after all "just works").

We all know that Apple doesn't _want_ to make it as easy for non-iThings to interoperate with iThings. Sure, they may tolerate it, but in Apple's world it's much better to be pure iThing.

I am surprised that they didn't suggest, as an alternative to getting all her friends to upgrade their iStuff to the newest iSoft, that she "upgrades" her (undeniably superior) Galaxy S5 to an iThing. It's just as daft.

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Russia to suspend US GPS stations in tit-for-tat spat

Malcolm Weir

Re: Why do they need permission?

The "broadcast a correction signal" is generally known as DGPS. But in addition to that, there is GPS data (the ephemeris data) that can benefit from ground stations, although this is pretty adequately handled by existing stations.

The real use of the ground systems is for WAAS-type systems, which uses separate geostationary satellites (originally leased Inmarsat birds, now a mix).

Why people want the ground/WAAS setup is so that GPS can be used for precision air navigation. The US doesn't want aircraft to use a GLONASS system in Russia and a GPS one in the US, so they want to block GLONASS from the US simply so that they have the technical argument to support a GPS-monopoly on (civil) air navigation. The alternative is to have to equip and certify aircraft with two systems, and hope that (e.g.) a Russian jet approaching JFK is using the right set of signals.

By the way, GPS was never relevant to ICBMs; tactical nukes like knowing where the launch point is, but ICBMs (and cruise missiles) never bothered with an external radio-based navigation system. ICBMs use stars to align themselves in the drift phase, and cruise use terrain maps.

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Hey, Samsung: Why so shy about your 960GB flash drive's endurance?

Malcolm Weir

Re: Beyond a joke.

And you shouldn't be worried, because that sort of usage is perfectly suited to that technology.

However, if you were running a data center, perhaps instead of 1GB per day or so, you were writing a few dozen short transactions a second; each transaction might represent an update of (say) 200 bytes of data, which requires a rewrite of one or two 512 byte sectors, which require a rewrite of 1 or 2 1MB erasure blocks. Sure, clever caching and optimization can reduce the number of sectors and erasure blocks that get written, but you would be fortunate (in a normal "random" workload) to do much better than a 10-to-1 improvement (so for every 10 erasure blocks that you might have to rewrite, you actually only need to rewrite 1).

So in that sort of application, you may only be writing 200 bytes x 64 transactions per second (i.e. 12,800 bytes per second, or 1.1GB/day but the drive's flash is not seeing that; what it sees is(2 erasure blocks x 1MB per block x 64 transactions / 10 cached advantage) per second.

Which is 1.1TB per day, and if you put it in service today, it will fail sometime after July 25th 2015 (452 days from now).

That's not entirely horrible (a standard HD can be expected to die after about 4 times as long), but it's a poor choice for a data center.

All of which boils down to horses for courses...

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So, just how do you say 'the mutt's nuts' in French?

Malcolm Weir

Re: Or even ...

Ah, no: for some reason Francophone dogs don't go "woof-woof", but "arf-arf".

(Merci, Monsieur Herge).

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Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style

Malcolm Weir

Re: Wot? No wireless charging?

Here you go: http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/cell-phones-accessories/EP-VG900BBUSTA

So, yeah, wireless charging!

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Gay marriage foes outraged at Mozilla CEO flap, call for boycott

Malcolm Weir

Re: Speaking of the law...

Dear Petrea Mitchell...

The reason it hasn't "gotten" attention is that it's 100% completely irrelevant.

Had Eich been fired, it may have been. But he wasn't, he quit.

And had Eich been fired _for supporting Prop 8_ (although he wasn't fired at all), then it may have been relevant; but had he been fired (although he wasn't) for being an incompetent CEO in his handling of the Prop-8-support-issue it would not have been relevant.

Glad to help.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: No win.

Suits me.

I see no reason why churches should be tax exempt. I see no reason why churches should get special treatment.

Consider the current farcical situation at the US Supreme Court, where a bunch of employers are claiming to be exempted for aspects of the law because it allegedly violates their alleged religious beliefs (specifically, it requires them to provide insurance that covers contraception, etc.).

But consider the position of a sincere pacifist. Could be a sincere atheist, or perhaps a Quaker. Do they get to refrain from paying taxes that fund the military? If not, why not?

Religion can be great. Most churches could be wiped from the face of the earth with a net benefit to all mankind.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: No win.

Hmmm... one of the largest financial backers of Prop 8 ("no marriage for gays because gay is icky and everybody knows if you let gays marry next thing that'll happen is that we'll be forced to gay-marry someone!") was those whacky Mormons.

Also known as "LDS".

Now, should a church be sticking it's tax-advantaged nose into politics? Here's a hint: no.

You can spend all the money you like on political stuff, but you can't do it tax-free.

Naughty LDS. Perhaps we should strip their tax-free status?

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Freedom of speech goes both ways here

@LDS,

Let's grant your "there is no human right to marriage" thesis, for the sake of argument. However, there is a _legal_ right to marriage, as long as you meet certain criteria (like not already being married, being over a certain age, etc).

And once married, there are a vast number of privileges and advantages available which are not afforded to unmarried people. Despite your claim about money, consider who gets to make medical decisions for someone incapable of making them for themselves. Sure, there are ways to circumvent the problem, but why should one group have to jump through hoops because they are denied the ability to marry who they want?

Fun fact: Prop 8 (supported by Eich-the-useless-CEO) was a reaction to the previous "Knight Initiative" (Prop 22) which was passed in 2000 and struck down as unconstitutional in 2008. Prop 22 was passed on March 7, 2000; the Fox TV show "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?" aired on February 15th, and the "marriage" was annulled on April 5th. Obviously, people in California cared deeply about "traditional marriage".

Another fun fact: "traditional marriage" obviously includes arranged marriages and child marriages.

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USB reversible cables could become standard sooner than you think

Malcolm Weir

Re: The elusive brain cell discovered at last!

The idea that "small connectors are more prone to breakages" is, to say the least, debatable.

In experience, supported by design, anecdotal and experimental data, the micro B connectors are more reliable than the mini B ones. And I think everyone here will have come across a damaged A connector (often where the "tongue" has been broken).

And in non-USB connectors, I tend to find HDMI and Displayport better than DVI and VGA, just because of the issues with bent pins. Apple's "Magsafe" connector is small but rugged (not, in my view, worth all the hoopla that pro-Apple people associate with it, but it's neat). Etc.

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Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight

Malcolm Weir

FYI... since the aircraft appears to be Swiss registered, and for the majority of the flight will not be in Chinese or Russian airspace, altitude would be specified in feet, not meters. And if you want to use MPH, that further suggests that feet are the appropriate unit. So what the aircraft will be doing is climbing to around 26,000ft (FL260) during the day, and descending to around 5,000ft at night.

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In Australia, protesting against Brendan Eich will be a CRIME

Malcolm Weir

In a lot of the Eich-should-be-allowed-to-be-a-CEO-bigot moaning, I see few people commenting on the unassailable fact:

Eich was a crap CEO.

Something controversial came up (both within and outside Mozilla). Eich failed to do anything vaguely effective towards managing the controversy.

Ergo Eich was an ineffective leader, and thus a crap CEO who should have been kicked out had he not left. Not because he is a bigot, but because he cannot manage the controversy.

There is a secondary side, too: the board that appointed Eich was a crap board, too. But that doesn't change the crapness of Eich.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Background

@Coward:

As most sane people know, there is in fact zero evidence connecting same sex families with "problems". The attempt to push the thesis that "studies are now starting to arise" is utter bullwossname, and cannot be substantiated in any way, shape or form. The not-terminally-dumb know this because every time some anti-same-sex bigot tries to raise it in (say) a court challenge to the discriminate-against-LGBT laws, it gets thrown out.

So there are, in fact, no studies linking any kind of child rearing problem with same sex parenting. None, Zip. What there are are studies linking dysfunctional families with problems, but the overwhelming majority of dysfunctional families are opposite-sex, leading to the obvious conclusion...

Lastly, the "choice" statement is without doubt utterly vile bigotry. But being a vile bigot is a choice, not a condition.

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The gift of Grace: COBOL's odyssey from Vietnam to the Square Mile

Malcolm Weir

@volsano,

Aye... every time I've had to define a database table in SQL, I've thought fondly of COBOL's Data Division. Of course, if you don't care about internal representations, COBOL is overkill, but I've found that I'm usually wrong if I think I don't care!

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I QUIT: Mozilla's anti-gay-marriage Brendan Eich leaps out of door

Malcolm Weir

The strange thing in all this is a key data point is being overlooked:

Mozilla has/had five directors. One (apparently) had been planning to leave as soon as the new CEO was selected, leaving four. Two of those resigned as a result of Eich's appointment (granted, one may have been looking for a way out). But that's a significant data point: either 25% or 50% of Mozilla's (remaining) directors didn't want to be directors with him as CEO.

And I think this fracas shows they were right: the man was not a good choice, and failed at controlling the situation as it started to spiral out of control. There were many things he could have done (e.g. appoint an LGBT advisory panel to watch for places where his personal beliefs conflicted with the organization's)., but he failed. So he goes.

Of course, there is also some irony in the fact this week saw the Supreme Court reiterate that money=speech. And if one supports free speech (including giving money to hate groups), how can you not support free speech (including not giving business/money to an organization that hired someone you dislike)?

So who's fault is this? I won't blame Eich for being socially retarded, and I won't blame people for getting annoyed at a "community" organization appointing a social retard as the glorious leader. But I will blame the idiots on the board (that didn't resign in protest) for not understanding that they had picked a potentially controversial character and then failing to stand by their choice when they discovered the mistake.

By the way, one of the reasons anti-gay bigotry is so insidious is that it is indisputably a fact that it has absolutely no impact on anyone except the oppressed class (i.e. gay people). If you are straight (or gay and determinedly single) there is not a shred of difference that it can make to you whether the two similarly-gendered people at the next table/in the next flat/whatever are gay, straight, married, single, or whatever. It's exactly like the nineteenth century anti-Irish bigotry that existed: an Irish labourer and a Cornish labourer looked alike, could sound vaguely similar, and yet one was accepted ("salt of the earth") and the other wasn't.

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Driver drama delays deep desert XP upgrade

Malcolm Weir

I once found myself trundling up the Stuart Highway about 200 miles from Alice at midnight.

As a break and to celebrate the vastness, we pulled over, cranked up the CD player and went dancing... in the middle of the road, in the middle of Australia, in the middle of the night.

Best part was the certainty that no-one would see my "dancing"...

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You TWITS! Facebook exec erects billboards shaming texting drivers

Malcolm Weir

Mixed signals...

Looking at the TWIT's page, while the twat Singer claims that everything was taken on the freeway, it's also clear that at least some of his "gotchas!" are of people in stop-and-go traffic. If you are mostly stationary, only a self-absorbed loon (although for a "facebook exec" that's probably redundant) would equate the risks of texting with the risks if you happen to be doing 60.

Plus, of course, most of his pics seem to be of people looking at a screen. Could be reading a text, could be reading a map, could be choosing a playlist, could be trying to decide whether to answer that call on speakerphone, could be reading facebook updates.

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Proof Apple is GOING BACKWARDS: It's trying to patent a Newton-ish touchscreen stylus

Malcolm Weir

Apple Innovates Again; first it was corners, now sticks!

This "invention" is all the proof you need of Apple's policy of "innovation".

I am reminded of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when King Arthur invites a person who sounds as if they may be of Gallic extraction to join his quest. The possibly-Francophone individual responds by saying "I'll ask him, but I don't think he'd ver' keen... he already has one".

Or, to put it another way, the stylus in my Note II has a changeable tip. And an actuator, although to be fair the Note II's actuator is where it is actually useful (on the body), not where an idiot would put it (the tip). So my stylus can provide a "first input" and a "second input".

Now, even with the US PTO's evident policy on "prior art" (i.e. "sort it out in the courts"), nothing in that filing is an "invention". By any stretch of the imagination.

Granted, the general concept that the patent is attempting to claim is marginally different (although the specific text of the claims, which is what counts, is not): the idea seems to be for a nib that you can slide out for one effect, and slide back for another. This sounds like a great idea, unless you've actually used technology like a propelling pencil, which would have taught you that moving the nib requires changing your hand position on the shaft of the pencil. So the Wacom/Samsung concept of putting the actuator under a finger actually works much better anyway.

It's also worth noticing that the patent application was filed on September 14th. The Note II was launched 17 days earlier (and the original Note was obviously much earlier than that).

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Beastie Boys settle with toy maker over Girls copyright dispute

Malcolm Weir

Re: Let this be a lesson

Please lay off the spin.

Seeking declaratory judgment is the appropriate response to someone threatening a lawsuit that you believe to be merit-less. We have all heard of situations (often involving patent trolls) where part of the game plan is to drive up the costs of a "potential infringer" so that the "potential infringer" finds it easier to settle than fight. Seeking declaratory judgment is the appropriate and most practical way to get a simple answer to the key question: is the supposedly infringing use an actual infringement or fair use?

Now, regardless of whether you or I think it was (or wasn't), if the toy company believed that they were covered by the parody exemption (and remember, the lyrics were heavily modified and the "plain meaning" of the result was the complete opposite from the original), then having some "intellectual property rights management" company come the heavy hand (which is what happened) may legitimately result in a desire to get a court to say that no, actually you're on safe ground.

To their credit, when the artists (as opposed to the "IP rights management" company) started talking to the toy company, the toy company responded very differently (pulling the ad). Possibly in order to protect their position in case it all went pear shaped, the artists subsequently filed suit... but this seems as reasonable a position as asking for declaratory judgment, i.e. an appropriate step based on their position (right or wrong).

(The above comment is factually erroneous in the assertion that the original contact to the toy company was "nice" or "polite" or indeed from the Beasties).

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US Appeal Court slaps Apple for trying to shake antitrust monitor

Malcolm Weir

i don't think the response is 100% removed from being a slap: Apple gets nothing except a restatement of the monitor's frame of reference. As others have noted, "relevance" is a subjective concept, and there was no change to his charter.

I interpret the "relevance" bit as a statement that the only challenges that the court will tolerate are those concerning relevance, and that's a high bar to prove (alleging irrelevance is easy, but that can be countered with something along the lines of "we won't know whether it's relevant unless you tell us what's in it"!)

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Clink! Terrorist jailed for refusing to tell police his encryption password

Malcolm Weir

Chris 201: you're quite right about destruction of evidence, etc. But the point is that IF you act in such a way as to prevent The Authorities from rampaging through your files, THEN you can be done for the offense of Preventing Authorities Rampaging aka obstruction of justice. Likewise, if they can't prove the suspect actually did the burgling, but can prove he wiped the door handles knowing that so doing would impede the investigation, that's obstruction.

And the point of the Doe case was that the government COULD compel Mr. Doe to authorize the banks to release information; they couldn't magically force him to sign the document, but they could hold in contempt of court (in jail) until he did... and they could continue to hold him indefinitely.

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Malcolm Weir

To those who have suggested that the US protections against self-incrimination are somehow a magic bullet against this sort of intrusion, the reality is not so clear cut.

US courts (up to and including the Supreme Court) have regularly ruled that e.g. you do not have the right to prevent a search pursuant to a warrant just because that search might/will incriminate you. And in 1988's Doe vs United States (487 U.S. 201) the Supremes held that could compel a defendant to sign a document authorizing foreign banks to disclose information on any accounts owned or controlled by the defendant, even though IF the banks did provide any data, THEN it would be prima facie evidence of a criminal offsense (in that case, failing to respond to a lawful subpoena to disclose all banking records).

So the argument by the defendant boiled down to "if I unlock the door of the safe, then you'll open it and find stuff which will land me in trouble", whereas the government argued that unlocking the door to the safe is not in itself an act that could incriminate you (although the contents could). The government won.

A similar situation exists with destruction of evidence: if your husband burns the letter you wrote that instructed someone to tap the phone of the the prime minister (to be topical), your husband is likely to find himself on trial for obstruction of justice charges. So if you destroy (or cause to be destroyed) evidence by triggering anti-tamper devices, you're still in hot water (although the charge may be different).

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'Leaked' iPhone 6 pics will make cool fanbois WEEP - it's a PHABLET

Malcolm Weir

Re: Phablet calling

I don't see this as a I* device _user-based_ phenomenon, but rather an example of some extremely good marketing by Apple: iPhone (and iPad, and iPod) are all extremely good monikers for the device, better than "smartphone" ("tablet", "MP3 player").

This should come as no surprise, because by and large Apple's strength is in "technical marketing", rather than true pure innovation: to paraphrase BASF, they didn't invent the mouse/MP3 player/smartphone/tablet/whatever, they packaged up a bunch of existing stuff (and did very well), and then SOLD it to consumers.

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Orbital Sciences' Cygnus resupply truck blasts off to the Space Station

Malcolm Weir

Re: This was a resurrection of a failed proposal...

I very much doubt that Antares would ever carry a human-rated capsule, for several reasons:

1. SpaceX has made it fairly clear that their projects are all centered around reducing the cost of putting a tonne into orbit (so they can achieve Elon Musk's stated goals with regards to Mars). Putting Dragon on Antares achieves nothing that Dragon on Falcon 9 doesn't achieve in that regard.

2. Antares can lift 6 tones to LEO. Falcon 9 baseline can carry 10 tonnes, and the Falcon 9 v1.1 can lift 13 tonnes. Those figures show that if Antares were to carry a manned capsule, the Soyuz would be a better fit (and the comments about solid rocket motors, above, really do apply), and that's not a likely outcome (that goose lays golden eggs). For reference, the Shuttle could put 24 tonnes into orbit (which is largely how the ISS got there), and the Falcon Heavy is supposed to shift about double that; Saturn V, of course, could do more than 4 times what the Shuttle could, making Skylab a much easier proposition than ISS was.

3. Orbital currently has, what, 50-odd Kuznetsov engines, equating to 25 more Antares vehicles, 15 of which are committed to COTS with Cygnus. Sure, various schemes are afoot to restart NK-33 production or produce derivative engines, but those are not yet qualified solutions (and at least one scheme produces a significantly more powerful engine -- 25% more thrust, suggesting that the vehicle to which it would be attached would be different from the current Antares; Antares 2, anyone?).

4. The virtues of the Aeroject/Kuznetsov engine lie mainly in its excellent thrust-to-weight ratio. That performance metric is exceeded only by an indigenous SpaceX engine, so putting Dragon on it seems a bit of a sideways move.

Realistically, (western) human-rated launchers are either going to come from SpaceX, or from some restart of NASA's constellation. The latter seems politically unlikely any time soon.

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James Bond's 'shaken not stirred': Down to trembling boozer's hands, claim boffins

Malcolm Weir

Re: You're allowed more booze than that.

One of the (many) fundamental failings of the "recommended maximum units of alcohol per week" nonsense is that is assumes that the effects of alcohol are discrete and linear. There is no mechanism for, e.g., factoring in the positive effects of alcohol in managing stress, so someone with a high stress job might genuinely be able to absorb more units with beneficial effects, before the negative effects starts to outweigh the positive ones.

Another ignored phenomena is that, for some individuals, drinking is a displacement activity that displaces other, more harmful, actions (over-eating, narcotics, etc). For this population, although alcohol may (or may not) be problematic in itself, it is less problematic than the alternative.

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You gotta fight for your copyright ... Beastie Boys sue toymaker over TV ad

Malcolm Weir

@curtis, Actually your inference is bass-ackwards: the reason for seeking a declarative judgment (as Goldieblox did) is to shutdown merit-less litiguous thuggery. No-one with a clue would go to court seeking a declaration that they were NOT infringing, unless they seriously believed that they weren't.

Therefore the fact that Goldieblox filed suit for declaratory relief (i.e. they didn't ask for anything from the Beastie Boys at all, all they asked for was a ruling that they did not infringe) is strong evidence that they believe that they do not infringe AND case law is on their side (which, incidentally, it is).

Their alternative is to sit around waiting to see if the (Beastie Boys) rights agents would sue, which (if they were smart) they would take their time over, because they (the agents) want to maximize the settlement, and the best way to do that is to sit back and wait until the toy company has sold a gazillion things, and then argue that the BB's are entitled to a percentage of each.

What really happened here is that some lawyer acting for the Beastie Boys got called on their tactics. And the fact that the BB's have now sued Goldieblox even though GB has done asked of them is more evidence that the BB's don't give a flying wossname about anything other than trousering pots of cash. So no change there, then.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: VW Badge

It's usually better to present the actual facts, rather than fabricate a narrative. In this instance, the Beastie Boys sent a "cease and desist" letter threatening a lawsuit (and it did NOT have an "unless you do this we will sue" modifier). Given that the Beastie Boys opened with a piece of attempted thuggery, it is disingenuous in the extreme to then go wailing about how mean it was of the people they attempted to thug for those people to ask a court to rule on the validity of the claims in the attempted thuggery.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Pretty much my thoughts too

Your entire argument fails on an baseless argument: that you believe that the "creative motive" matters. Plus the fact is that the advertisement _as an advertisement_ has a "commentary or political expression" as its core: the (socially sound) idea that STEM for women is A Good Thing. Despite your pontification, in the USA corporations have free speech rights, and corporations can be argued to be ALWAYS selling something whenever they speak, so the entirety of your argument fails.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: Pretty much my thoughts too

Bingo.

And the other factor that has many folk all riled up was, equally, justifiable: the rights agents for the Beastie Boys sent a threatening "cease and desist" letter, and in my world if you're not prepared to deal with the consequences of your threats, you shouldn't make them. In this instance, the toy company went to court to get a ruling that they were NOT infringing, which seems like the appropriate response to threats based on the accusation that they were.

Plus, when the toy company DID back down, what did the people who issued the threats do? They filed suit.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: @rh587 wrt: Campbell vs Acuff-Rose Music

Utter tripe: "if the song has no existence outside the advert"!

You may want to check up on copyright law.

The fact that the motive behind the creation of the work was for commercial gain (selling other stuff) as opposed to commercial gain (selling records) is only a minor consideration, at least per the US Supreme Court. To consider otherwise would be ridiculous, because you would have to judge the motives of each creator.

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Malcolm Weir

Re: @Tom ... Take 'em for every penny you can boys.

How is this a parody? The words have been changed to convey the exact opposite of the original, which is pretty much the bellwether definition of a parody...

There's a lot of retro-justification which says that the original version was ironic, therefore there is no change in message (ironic "girls are good for nothing but serving boys" -> non-ironic "girls are good for STEM"), but there's also a fair amount of opinion that the original version wasn't actually ironic.

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