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* Posts by SDoradus

75 posts • joined 15 Jul 2010

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Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low

SDoradus

Re: Hmph!

Rather than simply downvote you like all the others, I have to ask: what makes you think the neutron is an "extremely difficult-to-detect particle"? It might have no net charge, but it certainly has a magnetic dipole moment. Which is why the experiment can be done at all, of course.

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Kiwi Rocket Lab to build SUPER-CHEAP sat launchers (anyone know 30 rocket scientists?)

SDoradus

Re: favourable launch location in NZ

Sorry, no, that's wrong, the place of launch would be about 37 degrees south and that inclination for technical reasons is excellent for the angle of orbit required in this application.

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Boffins publish SciFi story to announce exoplanet find

SDoradus

Why did they bother? It's been done before with reference to Kapteyn's star originating in the Omega Centauri satellite galaxy nucleus, specifically the central intermediate mass black hole. The novel was "Singularity", published two years ago by a fairly prolific author (William Keith).

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Five-year-old discovers Xbox password bug, hacks dad's Live account

SDoradus

Re: NSA Recruitment guy

May we expect emigration to China?

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US judge tells Marvell to pay Carnegie Mellon Uni $1.5bn in patent fallout

SDoradus

Since end of C19 SCOTUS has not heard all cases

You have no recourse. This means, since the Supremes are the final word on constitutional interpretation, that not all constitutional questions get decided except in the very limited areas where their jurisdiction is original, not appellate.

For the rest, since the late 1800s SCOTUS has operated on a certiorari system. They only hear around one hundred cases per annum.

Of course, this means in effect that the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Court for most cases. If they deny certiorari, which happens in nearly all cases, the last judgment appealed from will stand.

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No, Minister. You CAN'T de-Kindle your eBooks!

SDoradus

Re: Unconstitutional

You're not wrong in the sense that the UK is held to have a constitution. But the word is also used in the sense of a founding or 'basic' law which can not be arbitrarily changed by the legislature. That is not the case for the UK constitution.

But it is not written down any one place, some of it is not written down at all, and all of it is subject to revision in the ordinary way by statute or legal interpretation. It shares these characteristics with some other realms, for example NZ where the (so-called) Bill of Rights Act cannot override statute. Furthermore, the entrenching provisions are not themselves entrenched.

This is not the case for the US where originalism and strict constructionism are live doctrines. While the US (still) determines the interpretation of such IP laws, through multilateral treaties and otherwise, the impact on actual US citizens living within its borders is lessened by the constitutional protections which are much stronger than UK or EU law.

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Cable thieves hang up on BT, cause MAJOR outage

SDoradus

Re: Damn thieves

From forty years gone I recall the safety chart in my Physics class noting that only 0.1A across the body will kill you.

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TV scraper Aereo pulled off air in six US states after tellyco court injunction victory

SDoradus

Wait for SCOTUS

I'll just wait for the Supremes on this one. I'm not too impressed with Kimball's idea of what's reasonable here, but let SCOTUS make the decision. That's their job; they and their country will have to live with the consequences.

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Volunteers slam plans to turn Bletchley Park into 'geeky Disneyland'

SDoradus

Re: Polish cryptographers!!

And Marian Rejewski never did get properly honoured for it ... by his own country.

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Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it's serious

SDoradus

If it helps, the LibreOffice spell checker for US English gets it precisely the wrong way around (as of v4.1.4).

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SDoradus

Re: What's the problem? Linux cloned Unix, Android cloned Java.

Linux is a clone of Unix only in the sense that it is POSIX-compliant. The actual OS is a creative work of Linus Torvalds in the first instance, not owing anything to any previous OS.

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SDoradus
FAIL

Re: About time

I've downvoted you because I cannot find in Uncle Ron's post a statement to the effect that IBM wrote Windows NT.

The truth of the statement that the QDOS author (Tim Paterson) " [took] 'a ride on' Kildall's operating system, appropriated the 'look and feel' of [Kildall's] CP/M operating system, and copied much of his operating system interface from CP/M" was the subjective of a defamation action by Paterson against the author (Evans) who wrote that (and in so doing merely recapitulated others' observations).

Briefly, Judge Zilly dismissed the defamation lawsuit because in US law truth is an absolute affirmative defence and indeed, Evans' statements were provably true; and Paterson's were not.

In particular, the judge found that (and I quote from the 2007 El Reg article here) " Paterson copied CP/M's API, including the first 36 functions and the parameter passing mechanism, although Paterson renamed several of these. Kildall's "Read Sequential" function became "Sequential Read", for example, while "Read Random" became "Random Read"."

It might be good to observe also that amateur opinions on this can be quite perceptive. A million amateurs scanning court records and SEC filings can generate a pretty good history, and the collective nature of the effort reduces bias markedly. In fact, owing to the confidential nature of most commercial legal settlements, the amateur opinions are often the only ones which come close to reality.

A good example is the archives at the (now inactive) site, www.groklaw.net. The search link is fourth from top left. Type in "Kildall".

For those interested in the now-dead Kildall's impact and legacy, at good potted history from his point of view is at: http://www.digitalresearch.biz/DR/Gary/newsx011.html.

El Reg has numerous articles on this. One is at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/30/msdos_paternity_suit_resolved/, and Groklaw also posted an archive of the crucial court rulings in Patterson v Little Brown.

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SDoradus

Re: About time

The plagiarism in question would not have survived a lawsuit back then, either. The difference is that MS was by then huge and could afford the crippling legal fees - DR could not, so the case settled on terms which remain confidential. However, some idea of the size might be gained by the $120 million dollar settlement involving MS' ripping off Stac Electronics for the code used in the defragmenter.

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SDoradus

Re: About time

Regarding the LISA and its GUI; the LISA purchased by our maths dept. was usually running not its own GUI but the Mac emulation. LISA was in fact the usual development environment for early Macs. It's worth bearing in mind that the GUI differences were profoundly affected by the Mac having only 70% of the hardware of a LISA (at around one fifteenth the price). In particular, LISA had a fantastic (for the era) megabyte of RAM compared to the original Mac's 128k.

I'm not 26. I'm more than twice that age. I do still recall opening the case of my 512k Mac - I think I was the first to own one in Engineering School - and finding a bunch of signatures there, of the Mac development division. Steve Jobs was there, so was Woz: his role clearly was not at an end with LISA. It might have been a committee, but I doubt it's a good word for it. Creative team would be better.

Similar considerations apply to Gates and Jobs both being at Xerox PARC that day. Jobs made something of it; Gates did not; and Xerox couldn't market a paper bag.

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SDoradus
Thumb Up

Re: If memory serves...

Specifically, they were both on the board of the United Way charity umbrella group.

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Google Glass driver told she CAN wear techno-specs while on the road

SDoradus

Re: What bollocks

It's a mistake to treat Glass legally as though it's a mobile phone. There's no technical reason Glass or similar competing products have to be connected to the cloud to operate. Video recording data could be dumped to local storage via bluetooth, for example. Under such circumstances getting a subpoena for the device's cloud data context will yield nothing.

More importantly, even if the device is on and recording, that doesn't mean it will be distracting the driver. If just a video is being made it's not different from a motorcycle or car helmetcam or dashcam, legally speaking, except for one thing; the data context would count as a business record for the purpose of the hearsay rule. In other words it could be produced in court by the defendant, not the police, to prove that her usage was innocent (and, if she was recording video including the speedometer, that she was not speeding).

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SDoradus

Re: Clearly the cop was corrupt

He's safe. German autobahnen don't have speed limits in the UK sense.

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SDoradus

Re: What bollocks

No. The point is that in common-law systems it is assumed that laws need to be re-interpreted in the light of new developments. That's why case law is allowed to set 'precedent' which can overturn earlier 'precedent' or statutory interpretation.

As for Glass being distracting, 'connecting with the world' doesn't just mean giving the wearer real-time information about the world. It can also mean streaming to others or recording, neither of which involve distracting the wearer.

The real reason police would be unhappy for things like Glass to become common is that it would give the world information about police misconduct. It's only a matter of time before a Glass recording is used to prove that the police version of events during an arrest is false. It could, for example, have been used to disprove the allegation that the wearer was going 85mph in a 60mph zone.

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Chinese Moon rover, lander duo wake up after two-week snooze

SDoradus

Re: Real Engineers did that.....

Too easy. Slugs and kilos, maybe. <http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/mechanics/slug.html>

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Top patent troll sues US regulators for interfering with its business

SDoradus

Re: We got one of their demand letters...

I would agree, but do wonder: did your scanners have a button which scanned and automatically instructed Win XP's default email program (over USB!) to email a copy? Mine does. I've never used it in anger, but I pressed it once by accident. Does the mere existence of such a button render the owner liable?

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Google stabs Wikipedia in the front

SDoradus

Not necessarily cause and effect

The decline in page views is not necessarily to do with Google.

It's far more likely to be a consequence of a much broader decline in number of articles and editors since 2007, when rules intended to combat trolls and vandalism effectively ensured that the only people able to create and edit articles were nerdy white men.

This has been widely publicized, in the Daily Mail, Guardian, the Atlantic, Technology Review, among others. See for example the link to the Daily Dot provided by Mr Orlowski. Besides the page views, it also has the relevant graphs for number of editors and articles. Interestingly, the graph for number of page views goes no further back than 2008.

The Dot does say that this is the first time page views has declined since 2008, implying that there was a drop in 2007. Actually there seems to have been a year-long drop from mid-2010 to mid-2011 as well. Both would be expected if the new rules were causing a drop in usability.

Conclusion: I'd be less inclined to blame Google and more to blame the editor culture in Wikipedia.

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Accused Glasshole driver says specs weren't even turned on for traffic stop

SDoradus

Re: "nothing illegal to be wearing Google Glass"... yet.

Following which, Google will offer as an option the logging of all usage of the glasses, to certified secure serv ers whose accounts are, like bank records, exceptions to hearsay evidence in law.

Next, Google will offer the glasses with an option to silently record video of travel while all output or playback is switched off. Thus, should a motorists be accused by vengeful police, they will be able to prove (by video record) that they were indeed travelling at less than 65 mph rather than 80 mph, as Ms Concidine is accused of doing but denies. It's worth bearing in mind that courts traditionally grant deference to the sworn statements of officers. Enough such recordings, and that will no longer be true.

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File-NUKING Cryptolocker PC malware MENACES 'TENS of MILLIONS' in UK

SDoradus

Re: Nasty.

The geeks have already been rubbed out and the FSB has taken over.

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Here's what YOU WON'T be able to do with your PlayStation 4

SDoradus

Re: Competition, or the lack of it

My version 1 AppleTV runs XBMC. It sees my external 1TB USB hard drive on startup which has rather a lot of recorded TV shows on it - must get around to scrubbing that sometime. I understand later versions of the AppleTV are the size of a hockey puck and STILL run XBMC. That would be my choice for any media centre. Stick to games for the game console.

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Migrating from Windows XP: Time to move on

SDoradus

Migration plan

My plan, and I'm quite serious here, is to pull the network cable and remove the network drivers from XP. Then use it for games. For online the Xbox would do, if I played online. For all other purposes, dual boot into Fedora or occasionally Ubuntu.

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SDoradus

Re: I migrated...

Yup. Me too. Same reason. But at home and on the netbook I use on the occasional debug of people's RHEL boxen.

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SDoradus

I can do better than that

The "smart" oscilloscopes in my old Physics department ran Windows 98 ... in 2007.

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Legal bible Groklaw pulls plug in wake of Lavabit shutdown, NSA firestorm

SDoradus
Holmes

Re: Intimidation

You're not wrong. But in fact there's evidence that the founding fathers were absolutely aware they were founding a secular state.

This is the wording of the 'Treaty of Peace and Friendship Between the United States and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary';

"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion--as it has itself no character of enmity against the law, religion or tranquility of Musselmen..."

That was ratified by the legislature in June 1797, and accepted by the executive:

"Now be it known, that I, John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said treaty do, by and within the consent of the Senate, accept, ratify and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof." So that's two of the three branches of government.

Lately the courts made it unanimous with rulings about the pledge of allegiance "under God" wording.

On the other hand, one curmudgeonly old Catholic Republican of my acquaintance observed that nonetheless, that so-called secular state maintains Chaplains in defiance of the idea that a secular state has no established religion. In fact, he wrote: "... the very session of the Senate that ratified that treaty was opened with solemn prayer by the Chaplain of the Senate, who, I assure you, was a good Protestant Christian clergyman."

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SDoradus
Boffin

Re: I' not buying the Groklaw arguments - see the evidence..

You're right, the extra privacy offered by mykolab isn't from encryption which is done in much the same way as you suggest. But mykolab was mentioned in articles dealing with the demise of Lavabit because they are physically out of reach of the US and EU spy agencies:

"We offer secure email accounts including calenders and address books that synchronize to all your devices. The data is stored in our very own data center in Switzerland and can not be accessed by spy programs such as PRISM, so there will be no spying. There is also no corporate spying, because we show no advertisements. Enjoy the convenience of the Cloud without compromising freedom and openness."

Also they are planning to offer mail encryption services in the future. From their FAQ:

"In the future, it might be possible to store you private key in your browser's local storage securely. Then we will offer encryption in the web interface as well."

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SDoradus
Thumb Down

It's not that she's bored.

The reason "PJ was bored with it" doesn't get traction is that she hived off most of the boring bits to Professor Mark Webbink some time back.

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SDoradus
Boffin

A bit pointless

Nearly all comments to weblogs like Groklaw are in the form of posts/comments like these. But if individuals wanted to co-ordinate projects like transcribing legal documents they had to have some form of email collaboration.

Not everyone knew how to use PGP, say. The nature of Groklaw was that some of their projects were always going to tick off people in the FBI or NSA, and Jones would have been at the centre of such conversations. But it was thought not to matter. Gmail or Hotmail should have been fine for most purposes. Jones and company were simply scrutinizing companies and governments for their actions in court.

It's only lately that the need for secure email became clear. To top it all Lavabit and Silent Circle just declared "Guys, we can't tell you why, but there's no secure mail any more".

Until very recently it didn't matter that the email wasn't secure because it was assumed the constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure contained in the 4th amendment would prevent misbehaviour by the authorities. Now it has become clear how concepts like sovereign immunity prevent the executive being held accountable, there's no option but to switch to an extranational secure email provider, which Jones has done. But as documented in the Guardian, and TechDirt, to name but two places, even that is too risky to continue with Groklaw in its present form. See Ken White's Popehat article for more details.

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SDoradus
FAIL

Re: I' not buying the Groklaw arguments - see the evidence..

You clearly didn't read her closedown post in enough detail. She tried but failed to obtain any other suitably secure email provider. She gave as a parting email address a new one hosted by a Swiss company (MyKolab) - but added that it wasn't really secure enough, given the latest revelations.

I'd add that it's only been very recently that the extent of Google's compliance with NSA snooping became clear, because Google and others including MS were under gag orders about that. Indeed, the specially cleared techs Google had to hire to work with the NSA enforcers were not even allowed to discuss their work with their bosses. Google and MS were almost as much in the dark as the rest of us.

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Chinese 'nauts return to Earth after vigorous space coupling

SDoradus
Mushroom

Unfortunately not

In recent studies it's been shown that while the water tanks you suggest work for most particles from the solar wind, the more energetic particles spawn secondary radiation which is still fatal on quite short timescales (weeks).

Some cosmic rays are accelerated in pulsars, black hole accretion, or galactic magnetic fields, just like synchrotron radiation, to fantastic speeds approaching c. Over millions of years of slow but incessant acceleration, these can have energies around 20 GeV !

The tanks help but you are still talking about several times the safe lifetime exposure during a Mars mission.

No gas or fluid shield will protect against those short of an atmosphere kilometres thick.

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SDoradus
Pint

We won't be human

To get to Mars with current tech will take months if not years and no-one has come up with adequate shielding ideas yet. Which is not so say it can't be done, but lassoing an asteroid, carving out a habitat, and hitching engines of sufficiently high specific thrust are beyond even the Americans and Chinese at this point. Give it another century, once the population crash is done and dusted, and we'll see.

But on present evidence I'm firmly convinced the only way human minds will reach the nearer planets, let alone the stars, is as digital avatars adapted to space, instead of trying to take a bubble of Earth with us.

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SDoradus
Angel

What's this stealing thing?

The Chinese are climbing on the shoulders of others yes, but stealing? By that logic the Yanks stole from the Germans who stole from one particular Yank (Goddard) who, it is true, patented multi-stage and liquid-fueled rockets...

... but that was in 1914 and the patents had expired well before the Germans took advantage of them. And the Russians did steal from both but hey, they didn't recognise that form of intellectual property anyway (copyright is a different matter)

... and even they had their own unique contributions to engine tech, like the fuel pumps using waste gases, that was 15 per cent more thrust right there ...

... besides, Goddard would have got nowhere without the idea of the rocket in the first place which was ...

Chinese.

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Google launches broadband balloons, radio astronomy frets

SDoradus

Re: Internet drones?

You need a ground antenna, which the censoring country can prevent.

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SDoradus

Re: Astronomy community would like some consultation?

The launch took place from Mount John Observatory under the auspices of Canterbury University and the Civil Aviation department. I'm not sure what more consultation would have been possible or appropriate.

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SDoradus

The actual results give the lie.

The farmers testing individual balloons found that a window of 15 minutes internet was given by each balloon passing overhead. By virtue of multiplexing and session identifiers the user limitation is not important. Range increasing with height is only true of simple antennas which these are not, the lobes can be tailored.

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SDoradus

Re: Hang on

Aircraft emit such signals, at a lower altitude, which is worse.

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SDoradus
Meh

Do Google consult

That's a good question, but they shouldn't need to. The point was if they were launching from an actual observatory, every astronomer in NZ would know and approve of what they were doing. Years ago when I was doing astronomy and astrophysics at Canterbury our professor joked that he was one of exactly two Kiwis who put "Occupation: astronomer" on his tax return. There are more now but the entire island seems to know what everyone else is doing.

My impression is that Google do consult with before going ahead with their pet projects, when they get to the point of needing to be real-world tested. Their so-called "X Labs" have only produced three announced projects so far though, and only one of those has got to the point where official involvement was vital: the driverless car. Others like the Space Elevator are really long term.

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SDoradus
WTF?

For heavens' sake, those balloons were launched from an observatory!

Why does Dr Tucker assume that Google X Labs haven't thought of this, nor consulted with astronomers already? The Guardian hosted a YouTube video of the balloon launch taken from a helicopter, and I recognized the launch site as Mount John Observatory near Lake Tekapo, run by Canterbury University.

Now it may be that the optical astronomers don't talk to the people running the big dishes at Warkworth, like TIm Natusch, but somehow I doubt it.

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How NSA spooks spaffed my DAD'S DATA ALL OVER THE WEB

SDoradus
Thumb Up

So who created the logo?

Actually when the story first broke I did find myself wondering about the PRISM logo, just not about the photo. What I thought ... odd ... was that this high-secrecy outfit and project would have a logo at all. Logos are for publicity materials, right? Why publicize top-secret projects? What artistic director has clearance high enough?

And then the news items came such as the reporter who was already trying to find out what he could about PRISM because of overhearing it discussed in the lounge after a black hat conference. That implied there was an entire class or stratum of society for whom top-secret projects are a dime a dozen - within that class of persons you would surely need an advertising budget.

More evidence of a state within a state.

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My bleak tech reality: You can't trust anyone or anything, anymore

SDoradus
Black Helicopters

The PDF you link to (by David Cole) showing how contentious is the citizen vs immigrant rights debate is a wonderful bit of lawyering. Spot the straw man:

"... in regulating immigration, "Congress regularly makes rules that would be unacceptable if applied to citizens." Yet fifty years earlier, the Court had stated that the Due Process Clause does not "acknowledge any distinction between citizens and resident aliens."

The due process clause of the US Constitution covers "persons", not just natural persons but also legal persons (like corporations), who can benefit from constitutional guarantees. However, the constitution can't cover everyone in the world.

In particular, due process benefits persons who are citizens or residents or US corporations, more than strangers within the gates - people not bound by US Law. That's why courts can declare 'due process" might well discriminate against NON-resident aliens. The rules for regulating immigration are applied to non-citizens and persons not YET resident.

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Forget the word 'cyberwar' says Marcus Ranum

SDoradus
Mushroom

Nonsense. It's not a war if no-one can LOSE

There have been many instances of wars which no-one could win.

What you can't have is a war in which no-one can LOSE.

"Winning" for the military meant any of three things when the fighting was done:

- Control of the field of battle

- Inflicting greater destruction on the enemy than he did on you

- Achieving your war aims and frustrating those of the enemy.

Suppose the fighting just petered out over centuries, or didn't stop before a third force squashed both sides, or no-one controlled the field of battle (usually because a truce held), and destruction was equal on both sides, and no-one achieved their war aims.

Try the Quasi-war, or perhaps the War of 1812. The US started it, the Canadians say they won it (US troops were kicked out of Canada), the Americans say they won it (the British attacks on the US, however successful and damaging, were just raids), the British say no-one won it (the last battle gained by the US didn't happen till after the Treaty of Ghent ending hostilities, because it took months to get word to the forces in the field) and anyway they had bigger fish to fry.

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'Liberator': Proof that you CAN'T make a working gun in a 3D printer

SDoradus

Scaling rules apply

The reason an ant can survive falling from a height a thousand times greater than its length - equivalent to a fall from a mile up for a human - is that strength scales as the cross-section of the limbs and body, so as the square of length; but the weight it has to support scales as the cube of length.

And similarly for Irish cannon vs Liberator. The smaller you make the tube, the stronger it will be, for a given material. Even leather.;.

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SDoradus

All the first thirteen

Following the declaration of independence, and before the first articles of confederation (which promoted a "perfect and indissoluble union"), all the colonies represented by the alternating red and white stripes on the original US flag. Thirteen of them, as I recall. That would include the original Virginia, Rhode Island, et cetera.

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SDoradus

Casings would be plastic

You would then find 3D models for plastic casings to replace brass being downloaded.

It's sometimes forgotten that various armies have experimented with caseless ammunition. The stuff worked fairly well but didn't quite meet standards for automatic weapons, back in the late sixties. A quick lookup of "Caseless Ammunition" on Wikipedia shows how far they have come.

All that remains is to replace the lead pellet with a plastic one. Possibly with a hole drilled in the centre to accommodate a nail. Discarding sabot, anyone?

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SDoradus

The point is rapid development

The importance of 3D printing is twofold.

First, few people have access to injection molding equipment, but a 3D printer is potentially within reach of anyone. (Expect a licensing regime for them within months except in places which view them as vital for economic development).

Second, what has been downloadable is the 3D model which means the design is out there and cannot reasonably be banned. Injection moulders can be enjoined by a court: millions of Brazilian gangsters cannot.

Third, this successful model will be rapidly tweaked to become even more effective. As an engineer I would "improve" it in one of two ways, with a view to keeping it undetectable:

- either make the barrel from crack-free tensioned and wound nylon fishing line, a method dating back to wire-wound flash boilers; or,

- locate a common steel ballpoint pen with a case that fits the desired cartridge, cut it to fit, sleeve the pen back together and take pen and gun parts in your shirt pocket through customs.

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SDoradus

No. Tolerances are not so important

Pre WW1 revolvers often did not have gas-tight seals yet worked well. Gas tightness is useful to prevent powder burns and to provide some boost to muzzle velocity, but is not vital to a working weapon.

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