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* Posts by David Pollard

882 posts • joined 29 May 2007

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iPAD-FONDLING fanboi sparks SECURITY ALERT at Sydney airport

David Pollard
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Head in the clouds

Coat.

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GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins

David Pollard
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Ontological Insecurity

There's a conundrum: If the universe has always existed, then how did it start? Alternatively, if it started with the big bang then what came before it?

Everyday logic doesn't work too well with this sort of problem and many people have recourse to an act of faith in order to quieten their brains, jumping either to some or other religion or to reductionism.

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Special pleading against mass surveillance won't help anyone

David Pollard
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Re: Hmmmm time for an u-turn

Technology brings unprecedented opportunities for snooping, and misuse of surveillance is undesirable whoever does it. When public authorities act unaccountably, however, the logic of the situation encourages others to do the same.

To a large extent in the UK we have policing by consent. If this is to continue, public servants in the judicial system must be and be seen to be whiter than white, whatever crimes the rest of us commit.

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David Pollard
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It's not only whistleblowers who are investigated

Dr Waney Squier, a paediatric neuropathologist, acted as an expert witness for a good many years. In the face of emerging research she changed her views, disputing mainstream opinion which she thought could lead to miscarriages of justice. This seems to have gone down rather badly with the police.

"... Det Insp Colin Welsh, then of the Met’s child abuse investigation command, was reported to have suggested police would investigate such experts and report them to their professional bodies 'to see if we turn up anything'."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/11094379/Shaken-baby-expert-faces-witch-hunt.html

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Freshly uploaded EU digi-Czar is CLUELESS ON TECH but it's no big deal, says Steelie Neelie

David Pollard
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Clueless on tech

When did lack of experience and understanding ever preclude political appointments in areas which properly require it?

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THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models

David Pollard
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Why the engines on an airliner are set forward

The wings are flexed by gusts in both directions; that's why you can see them moving up and down during flight. And they are made flexible in order to take the strain. By analogy, this would go to show why floating currencies are better than the euro.

The forward mounting of the engines is not to balance upwards gusts. If this were so it would make downward gusts worse. Downdrafts can be very strong and are by no means uncommon. Where balance is needed is that at all times when the wing is generating lift drag from the faster movement of air over the upper surface generates torque on the wing as well as lift.

I don't know whether aircraft designers would be good at economics, but after reading this article I'd now have serious reservations about going in an aeroplane where an economist had anything to do with the design.

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Damien Hirst, eat your heart out - these guys chop up TAXIS

David Pollard
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London catching up as usual?

In 1969, or was it '68, clothes and accessories vendor Granny Takes a Trip had half a car sticking out from their shop window onto the pavement on the King's Road.

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Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces

David Pollard
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Heliocentric vs Epicyclic Models

Occasionally I've wondered that the epicyclic celestial model might be more useful. It's all very well to know that the planets all move in more or less exact ellipses around the sun, but then how do you calculate how the fixed stars and the other planets will appear at any given time when seen from a rotating body itself moving on an elliptical path?

The use of epicycles might well be the most practical approach to producing a picture of the sky at a given time and place in the future.

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Sun's MASSIVE solar storm belch to light up Earth's skies

David Pollard
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[It] would likely destroy the US electrical grid

What I'd read about this some years ago was that the problem comes from slowly changing currents being induced in loops in the grid. In 60 Hz transformers this is more or less like DC and it biases them into saturation with the result that they overheat. The solution is to ensure that no long distance loops are connected for the duration of the particle shower.

Are there other ways in which the solar storm can do damage, or is the 'destroy the grid' claim scare-mongering?

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Smart meters in UK homes will only save folks a lousy £26 a year

David Pollard
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Indoor greenhouses

Someone probably told a few MPs and the like that by monitoring usage patterns with smart meters it would be possible to detect when people are going in for bit of home grown.

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Oz fed police in PDF redaction SNAFU

David Pollard
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Open conversation

" ... of course there is no interest in having an open conversation with the public."

Yet this would bring greater security than almost anything else that could be done. It's one of the factors that keep democracies stable.

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Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM

David Pollard
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My cat's breath smells of cat food

See, Quantum Transmogrification occurs everywhere.

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Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious

David Pollard
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There go the tinfoil hats then, I guess..

That's probably the real reason they are introducing this legislation.

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Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors

David Pollard
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Re: Basic honeypots?

Isn't it also fairly easy to recognise the arrival of a swarm of zombies, and in this case to log most of the 200,000 to plot the spread of the farm that's spawning them? The ratio of password rejections to traffic is presumably quite low and fairly constant, so an increase when the plague starts shouldn't be too difficult to recognise. Or is there something else of which I'm unaware?

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David Pollard
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Basic honeypots?

Is there not some fairly simple way to test that repeated attempts are being made to crack the login? And is it not it possible to deny 'password1' and similar to users and then route logon requests which use it to fake data, logging all details of the connection and add later adding this to a blacklist?

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Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?

David Pollard
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An NHS Style Guide

Though I wouldn't wish to hinder important work, if the author could find time to write a style guide for NHS choices and other areas where there is an interface with the general public this might do a lot of good.

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TRANSMUTATION claims US LENR company

David Pollard
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The Orion Project Reloaded

This overunity energy generation has much of the look and feel of Steven Greer's proposals to solve the world's problems, which probably attracted a good few dollars in its heyday.

http://www.theorionproject.org/en/

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David Pollard
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transmogrification?

Is this some sort of a quantum shift associated with Schrödinger's cat?

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Spin doctors crack 'impossible' asteroid hurtling towards Earth

David Pollard
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The 29th century?

We'll have to hope that they are running a recruitment programme. Bruce Willis might not be available.

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Snowden leaks show that terrorists are JUST LIKE US

David Pollard
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Re: Removable batteries - and the SIM?

"Both the battery and SIM card must be removed."

Do these phones have backup power, or what?

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GCHQ names the Hogwarts for Hackers

David Pollard
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What does Verity have to say about this?

The can be but few in El Reg's readership who are not now eagerly awaiting Ms Stob's analysis.

See, e.g.,

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/13/verity_stob_open_university/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/14/verity_stob_further_eduation/

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/07/18/verity_stob_pgpdip/

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NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw

David Pollard
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Re: Description... Panopticlick

Here from the EFF is a test site. "How unique - and trackable - is your browser?"

https://panopticlick.eff.org/

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Watch: DARPA shows off first successful test of STEERABLE bullet

David Pollard
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Nominative determinism?

"The current record distance for the caliber is a 2.43km shot achieved in March 2002 by Corporal Rob Furlong ..."

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Google went behind our backs and really HURT US, squeal upset porn kingpins

David Pollard
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How about dodgy "meds"?

I'd taken a look at this some weeks ago after being surprised to see a viagra sales link on an NHS page. A quick search with [site:nhs.uk paypal viagra] suggests that despite the NHS saying Google had been working with them on the problem of hacking by internet pharmaceutical vendors the dodgy dealers are still in there.

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Royal Navy parks 470 double-decker buses on Queen Elizabeth

David Pollard
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Re: Bust-up

Catapult? Bus? Sounds like a job for Jeremy Clarkson.

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Super-snoop bid: UK government hits panic button on EU data retention ruling

David Pollard
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Re: Help! @Eponymous Cowherd

>> And then there's UKIP who want to rescue us from the EU and ECJ "interference" that is the only thing actually protecting us from the "Snooper's charter".

Maybe you could take a look at the EU treaties and check how Europol has been set up and what options it has been granted. From what I remember, 1993 or so, they were given a mandate to do more or less anything they want.

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Search, done. Ads, done. What next for Google? Domain registration

David Pollard
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Obligatory xkcd

http://xkcd.com/1361/

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France frostily foists flat fizz fear on ICANN's .wine plans

David Pollard
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Steelie Neelie claims "public interest"

The benefits of increased competition, so often touted as a reason to support the European dream, are rather swiftly ignored as soon as there is even a mild threat to profits.

But would sales of wine really be affected by a change of domain name suffix? Do many people even notice what a site's URL when they have put [wine], or whatever, into Google Shopping? And wouldn't the serious producers be using .fr or .it etc., or .com, in any case, while the serious buyers would mostly be going on the basis of reputation.

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Facial recognition tech convicts man in Chicago robbery case

David Pollard
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... helicopters?

They normally stay downwind of their prey, so you are probably safe for the time being.

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

David Pollard
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This provides enlightenment as well as chat

http://www.wisdomofchopra.com/

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Report pegs Apple for October smartwatch release

David Pollard
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Obligatory xkcd

http://xkcd.com/1372/

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iOS 8 to PROBE your GUTS and your HOME

David Pollard
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There's big money in home and health data

Sainsbury's are after a slice of this data too, using a somewhat different angle. At the pharmacies in their large stores they are offering free advice about prescriptions. As part of this service customers are asked to sign a consent form which allows Sainsbury's to contact their GP; and obviously they store the data.

There will be more ploys to persuade people to use facilities which allow harvesting of their personal health data in coming months and years.

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Privacy International probes GCHQ's mouse fetish

David Pollard
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Re: This is very puzzling

"They can't all be so stupid, can they?"

I wonder that sometimes the problem is that those who aren't are bright enough to know when to keep quiet.

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ET hunter: We will find SPACE ALIENS in 20 years

David Pollard
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"Are we being softened up for something...?"

Higher taxes and more frequent circulation of the collection plate.

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Hunt's paperless future: NHS watches £60m vanish down plughole

David Pollard
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FAIL

Re: pharmacyst - Used by Sainsbury's

It's perhaps worth noting that Sainsbury's now offer, or rather seem to press on customers using their pharmacy, an 'advice service'. They 'check' that the use of medicines is appropriate.

It looks as though the unwary will be encouraged to sign a consent form which, as far as I could see, would give them permission to discuss details of a prescription with the customer's GP. There wasn't any obvious limitation, so it's hard not to imagine that they may be intending to use this as implied consent to access medical records at any future date.

Despite offering advice, the pharmacy where I had gone could not provide information about interactions between two medicines, failed to access the manufacturer's data, and provided incorrect information about the appropriate timing of taking one of the medicines and eating

It looks as though they are using or perhaps working with the NHS promotion of the electronic prescription service to increase their share of this lucrative market, making it seem both normal for people to wish to share their medical information and convenient. I won't be signing up.

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David Pollard
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Medicines Act 1969

When there are multiple items on a prescription form the law currently requires that they must all be dispensed by the same pharmacy. Clearly this can cause problems when one of the items is out of stock and the patient will be in a different place the next day. It's necessary either to wait until the following day to collect both/all items from somewhere else, going without all the medications in the meantime, or make a return journey to the first pharmacy, which may be inconvenient.

Given that electronic prescriptions can now be sent direct from the doctor who authorises the script to a nominated pharmacy, it seems a bit absurd that the law has not been changed to allow pharmacies to forward the unfulfilled part of a script in the fairly rare circumstances when an item is not in stock and it's not easy for the patient to return to collect this from the same pharmacy which dispensed the other item(s).

The problem is well known to pharmacists and it would not be technically difficult to solve. Presumably all that would be needed on the legal front is a Statutory Instrument to modify the Act. But like much with the computerisation of health, the needs of the patient seem not to be given much attention.

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Boffins debunk red wine miracle antioxidant myth

David Pollard
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It' s obvious really

Given the puzzling and sometimes contradictory results we must conclude that further research is required in order to resolve the anomalies that have been discovered by the present work.

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Boffins say hot air makes Antarctica COLDER

David Pollard
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IT Angle

Whence come the trolls?

Given that El Reg is about IT and stuff it might be expected that readers will generally have at least some basic knowledge of electronics even if they never studied science or mathematics. It's surprising that quite a few seem incapable of understanding the notion of feedback loops.

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Get BENT: Flexy supercapacitor breaks records

David Pollard
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How big?

6.3 uWh per mm^3 is 6.3 kWh per m^3, if I'm doing the sums right. So for running a car, which to be useful needs something like 25 kWh capacity, this would take up about four cubic metres plus connections and case etc.. It looks as though there is still some way to go, though it might be on target for regenerative braking, power tools and similar applications.

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Fix capitalism with floating cities on Venus says Charles Stross

David Pollard
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Scientology?

Didn't L. Ron Hubbard spend quite a bit of time on Venus and head off there when he became immortal?

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Customisation is BAD for the economy, say Oz productivity wonks

David Pollard
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Sugar-infused fluff?

The sugar is probably the least of our worries. Take a look with your favourite search engine at the various emulsifiers, extenders and so-called improvers that are added to industrial bread.

It's small wonder that increasing numbers of people suffer from coeliac disease and gastrointestinal disorders.

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Up to 500 GP practices to test plans to share patient data

David Pollard
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Healthwatch.co.uk

Healthwatch was set up not so long ago to provide feedback from the public on health matters. Whether they really do this or are there simply to act as a buffer and keep complaints at bay I don't know, but if enough people contact them and make representations to their local offices then it might have some effect.

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UK.gov data sell-off row: HMRC denies claims it'll flog YOUR private info

David Pollard
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Semantic shuffle

It looks as though they will be selling access to the data rather than the data itself.

Sir Humphrey 1, public and common sense 0

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Vulture 2 rocket motor heater a non-sizzling success

David Pollard
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Mangle an old electric toothbrush

They charge the battery via a transformer in the base, and it should be possible to get two or three watts through this with reasonably efficiency. Such toothbrushes lift off their stand easily enough.

To measure the temperature a non-contact thermostat can be rigged up with an LED/photodetector pair and a small mirror on a bi-metal strip, perhaps also using a couple of lengths of fibre-optic to allow the electronic bits to stay inside where it's warm.

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Asteroids as powerful as NUCLEAR BOMBS strike Earth TWICE YEARLY

David Pollard
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Re: yeah, well

"The bits of debris are nothing to do directly with the Big Bang"

If the causal connection can't be established, then how can we know with any certainty that the big bang occurred?

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David Pollard
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Re: er ... wot?

Wanderers? Wasn't that the other planets?

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Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE

David Pollard
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Re: Who at Microsoft is making up the names... and why do they still have a job?

Windows Reloaded

Windows Revolutions

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NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS

David Pollard
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If the NSA knew ...

In just the same way that there isn't any obvious trace when a miscreant uses this method to try to collect data from a site, maybe the NSA had silently monitored selected sites to capture details of attackers who were exploiting the security hole. By allowing the leak of relatively non-critical data through what would in effect be a set of giant honeypots they could have been compiling details of their enemies.

As to the costs, a) it wouldn't be their money; and b) this would go to show just how important their work really is.

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Melting permafrost switches to nasty, high-gear methane release

David Pollard
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Bovine Flatulence?

Obligatory xkcd:

http://xkcd.com/1338/

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The... Windows... XPocalypse... is... NIGH

David Pollard
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Redo Backup

Provided that any data is on a separate partition, or otherwise safe, wipe and reinstall is the way to go for many users. The only problem is how to make the re-install process easy. Redo Backup seems to fit the bill.

http://redobackup.org/

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