* Posts by David Pollard

952 posts • joined 29 May 2007

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Is there ANOTHER UNIVERSE headed BACKWARDS IN TIME?

David Pollard
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Perhaps this explains ...

... why we seem to be stuck in the present.

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UK flights CRIPPLED by system outage that shut ALL London airspace

David Pollard
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If memory serves

Wasn't there a problem with the power supply a few years ago? As I dimly recall, there was a component like a smoothing capacitor in the common feed and it was this that failed. The power supply went down and the UPS came up and was connected to a short; or something along those lines. Everything worked perfectly apart from an unlikely fault that no one had foreseen.

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El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.

David Pollard
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Adblock Plus seems to do the trick

Although there may be a few articles which aren't so good without the pictures, in general the site seems much improved when they are blocked. Thanks to ABP it's possible to read the home page without too much effort. I'd imagine most people visit the Reg to read and hopefully learn something useful rather than to gawp.

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Web daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Back off Putin, I'm no CIA stooge

David Pollard
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A US intelligence operation?

Probably not. But no one who has ever used Ghostery or the like would be in any doubt that the present purpose of the www is to control the behaviour of the lower orders.

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Crims at vendors could crock kit says ENISA

David Pollard
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Repentant sinners?

The ones that know how to avoid getting caught cause much worse problems.

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Boffins weigh in to perfect kilogram quest with LEGO kit

David Pollard
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Pint

Brian Cox ...

... eat your heart out. You have competition.

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Brit boffins debunk 'magnetic field and cancer' link

David Pollard
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Re: Power lines?

Aside from that, according to research published in the BMJ in 2005, "There is an association between childhood leukaemia and proximity of home address at birth to high voltage power lines..." Why this should be is not yet entirely clear.

http://www.bmj.com/content/330/7503/1290?linkType=FULL&journalCode=bmj&resid=330/7503/1290

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David Pollard
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Re: Changes in circadian rhythms

"... seek research funding ..."

Research has already been done, e.g. 'A 50-Hz electromagnetic field impairs sleep' in the Journal of Sleep Research. There also seems to have been quite a bit of interest in modulation of melatonin production by static or low-frequency electrical fields.

e.g. http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/8098713

It will be interesting to see whether the new style of street lighting using LEDs affects sleep patterns and whether scare stories develop like those about mobile 'phones.

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David Pollard
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Changes in circadian rhythms

Here's a recent paper from PLoS Genetics describing experiments which show that EM fields do have an effect on living tissue. This involves the intriguingly named blue-light sensitive photoreceptor cryptochrome.

Genetic Analysis of Circadian Responses to Low Frequency Electromagnetic Fields in Drosophila melanogaster

http://www.plosgenetics.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pgen.1004804

The introduction provides a good overview of EMF sensing by flies.

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David Pollard
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Mood changers

Though I'm not suggesting that this shows mobile 'phones are dangerous, it's surprising that like other animals we seem to be aware of electric fields, for example when thunderstorms are imminent. For our senses to detect this there must be some sort of interaction.

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Parliament face-sit-in to spark mass debate on UK's stiff smut stance

David Pollard
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Remember Lady Chatterley?

Is this something you would even wish your wife or your servants to see?

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Boffins: We have found a way to unlock the MYSTERIES OF SHEEP from old parchments

David Pollard
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Pint

Kudos

Seconded.

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SCIENCE LAB TERROR: MYSTERY of the MISSING BRAINS

David Pollard
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Coat

Re: Getting stuffed ...

That's why they call them empty headed.

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Antarctic ice at ALL TIME RECORD HIGH: We have more to learn, says boffin

David Pollard
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Re: Antactica is melting too

"A comprehensive, 21-year analysis of the fastest-melting region of Antarctica has found that the melt rate of glaciers there has tripled during the last decade." - from a study by UCI and NASA glaciologists.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141202183313.htm

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Quantum computing is so powerful it takes two years to understand what happened

David Pollard
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Bitcoin?

I wonder if they have a bit of fun mining bitcoin during their coffee breaks.

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Brits conned out of nearly £24m in phone scams IN ONE YEAR

David Pollard
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Flame

Re: ORLY, DCI Stokes?

"I just need to ask you some security questions ..."

Southern Electric have twice now asked for my date of birth as a 'security check' when all I have done is to call to pay the bill.

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Australia to social media: self-censor or face AU$17,000 FINES

David Pollard
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Peer pressure?

Where the internet differs from other areas of life is that it's relatively easy to be anonymous. In the playground there's a possibility that at least some of the others who see bullying may point out that it's not a particularly nice thing to do. On the 'net this peer pressure is largely absent.

It's not easy to find solution, but it might make the world a little better if some of the less desirable aspects of human nature could be moderated.

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Tough Banana Pi: a Raspberry Pi for colour-blind diehards

David Pollard
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Re: Is there a collective name for Raspberry Pi enthusiasts?

Pilgrims?

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Floody hell! Brits cram Internet of Things into tight White Spaces

David Pollard
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Data on flow rates is what's needed

The Environment Agency already monitors river levels at each lock plus a few other locations. In most places in Oxford the local water level tracks very closely with this, following within an hour or two because the water flows quite easily through the gravel layers that underlie the flood plain.

Details of water levels have been available on the 'net for a couple of years; a commendable effort, even though the graphical data is perhaps not in the most convenient form and reliability may leave a little to be desired

e.g. http://apps.environment-agency.gov.uk/river-and-sea-levels/136497.aspx?stationId=7072

What would be really useful is if the Environment Agency were also to make available sluice settings and the estimated flow rates both through and around locks. With this and with data for recent raindfall and near-term forecasts in the appropriate catchment areas it would be possible to predict likely levels quite accurately. Already an 'educated guess' for the next day or two can be made simply by looking at the upstream river levels and their changes.

Unfortunately the Environment agency seems to hold onto details of data such as actual flow rates as if this were a national secret in wartime. Perhaps as well as having a few Mr Mannerings in their midst, with vital roles is the so-called bronze, silver and gold control centres which are set up to handle the crisis and control civilian populations during floods, they are also concerned that people may be a bit upset when management decisions are made which have the effect of flooding one area rather than another.

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Calls for probe of UK.gov's DOESN'T VERIFY ID service

David Pollard
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Large projects can go wrong

"This demonstrate[s] the potential of large complex programmes enabled by digital technologies to go massively wrong."

Would a Labour government therefore scrap Care.Data?

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Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins

David Pollard
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Re: Good, measury stuff

Presumably all previous measurements have been similarly underestimated. So although the absolute values of historical data may need to be corrected, the changes recorded using other techniques will be more or less correct.

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Mysterious BEAM outside London Googleplex ZAPPED

David Pollard
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Re: In all seriousness....

"So who would be conducting this investigation, the HSE police?"

Clearly it needs a call to Professor Quatermass.

Details here for those who missed it back in the day:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quatermass_and_the_Pit

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Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray

David Pollard
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Re: Obligatory XKCD - II

http://xkcd.com/1433/

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Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER

David Pollard
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An option for obfuscation would help

Detekt fails to provide an antidote when spying is detected. What's required is appropriate means to feed a proportion of disinformation into the surveillance channel.

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David Pollard
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Re: Just use a Porteus USB

Porteus boots really quickly from USB 3.0, though the learning curve is a bit steep for newbies like me.

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All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing

David Pollard
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Harold Bates

In the true spirit of British invention, Harold Bates had been running his Hillman on bio-methane almost half a century ago, and was quoted as saying, "This is the thing of the future."

http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/methane_bate.html

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Our system handles £130bn and it's BUST. Want the job of fixing it? Apply to UK.gov

David Pollard
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Care.Data

With a track record like this the government expects people to agree to putting their health records on a central database?

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LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball

David Pollard
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Re: Panspermia OR mystic sky Daddy

The C, O and N most likely came from fusion in stars; the H seems to be quite widely distributed. Organic molecules are likely to form quite readily in space; and clearly enough arrived on the young Earth for life to start.

But panspermia, the idea that rather than arising spontaneously on Earth life came from space, carried by bacteria or spores of somesuch, seems to me to be an unnecessary and unsupported complication. The notion of life being carried to Earth on a comet seems to me to be nothing more than a techno-recast of a sky Daddy myth. Even worse, the idea that evolution proceeds as a result of directed panspermia is nothing more than a big boy's wet-dream.

To say that life exists throughout the universe and therefore it exists on Earth doesn't do anything much to explain how it comes about in the first place, or how it starts up on a sterile planet. Neither does it help appreciation of the more subtle details of how living things differ from non-living organic chemicals.

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David Pollard
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Re: Panspermia OR mystic sky Daddy

This looks like a false dilemma. Both are most unlikely in comparison with the simple notion, demonstrated by Miller-Urey over sixty years ago and others since, that complex organic molecules such as amino acids form quite easily from C, H, O and N.

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Are MPs smarter than 5-year-olds? We'll soon find out at coding school – Berners-Lee

David Pollard
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MPs should take drugs

If it would help them to appreciate what expert scientists such as Prof. David Nutt and his fellow committee members were saying before they were fired/resigned then I would be all in favour of MPs trying a few recreational drugs.

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Pharmacist caught spying on friends' med records fined £1,000

David Pollard
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Conspiracy?

Is conspiracy to inspect patient records also a criminal offence?

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European Commission decides it won't have a science advisor after Greenpeace pressure

David Pollard
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With a track record including the Fipronil tests

In 1997 the EU funded a programme to control locusts in Madagascar using Fipronil, a pesticide for which field trials were needed before it could be sold in the lucrative American market. Apparently there didn't actually seem to be any major problem with locusts at the time, though a great deal of harm was done to wildlife by the tests.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/806641.stm

Perhaps the EU record of impartiality in the field of plant science really is a bit tarnished.

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Poll trolls' GCHQ script sock puppets manipulate muppets

David Pollard
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Isn't this ...?

Does the Behavioural Insights Team, a.k.a. the Nudge Unit, go in for this sort of thing? Their Wiki entry makes fascinating reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behavioural_Insights_Team

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UK PM Cameron says Internet must not 'be an ungoverned space'

David Pollard
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... being more proactive in taking down this harmful material

Perhaps he should set his own house in order first, by having a word with whoever looks after UK government internet security. A trivial Google search with [site:gov.uk paypal viagra}, for example, brings up a slew of hacked sites advertising all manner of stuff. There seem to be quite a few hacks of NHS sites too.

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ITU thought bubble ponders mass mobe-tracking to kill fake IT

David Pollard
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Re: I find it fascinating...

My interest is more like horror than fascination. As the article notes, "the technologies mentioned hinted at a desire to identify and track [all] devices that touch a network."

Maybe counterfeits don't provide such easy access for the system controllers.

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NHS: Go digital or you won't get paid, warns Kelsey

David Pollard
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Be recorded or you won't get treated?

Is this an early hint of plans to use Care.Data to save the NHS money?

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'Chinese hackers' pop US weather bureau, flatten forecast feeds

David Pollard
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Re: The first lesson in network security ...

Is there any way to get the people building Care.Data to realise this?

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My HOUSE used to be a PUB: How to save the UK high street

David Pollard
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Is there room for workshops and small businesses?

One of the changes in recent decades has been that small workshops in towns and cities are being closed and converted to housing. Where are the electricians, plumbers, carpenters, builders and handymen, furniture makers and restorers ... or even small offices and computer shops? They are now mostly expensive and a few miles away. It's generally hard to start a small business because premises are hard to get, business rates are high, and there are swathes of regulations.

Regulations and planning, among other factors, have forced a change towards business on the trading estate, shopping in the shopping centres, and people in dormitory zones when they are not working or shopping..

To my way of thinking this move towards cold efficiency is sterile, and loses much of the vitality that is is seen in more integrated environments.

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Most convincing PHISHING pages hoodwink nearly half of you – Google

David Pollard
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Re: For a particular value of 'you'.

It should be obvious when a phishing page arrives ... but for some reason many people don't notice.

Maybe the Invisible Gorilla phenomenon explains why we often don't see something that should be obvious. It happens to all of us some on the time.

http://theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html

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Has Switzerland cracked the net neutrality riddle?

David Pollard
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Re: To my simple brain, the issue is quite simple

It's not just the volume of data, it's also the rate at which it needs to flow. The 3 GB iso download could often be done at off-peak times or could tolerate patches of reduced rate. Movies need an uninterrupted flow.

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'Tech giants who encrypt comms are unwittingly aiding terrorists', claims ex-Home Sec Blunkett

David Pollard
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And what does it tell y'all ?

That the article is actually a cunningly disguised piece of Tory PR in anticipation the forthcoming election, designed to pre-emptively spike any attempts by ReNew Labour to bang the Law and Order drum and thereby grab a bundle of votes ?

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CAMERON DIAZ covers top BOFFINS in GOLD at Breakthrough Prizes

David Pollard
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Publication too?

It's all very well having a show-biz spectacle which promotes science to the masses, but how about something a bit like Mark Abrahams' Improbable Science or Edge.org's New Year Questions. Quite a few of the winners would appreciate an opportunity to explain their work to a general audience.

Perhaps to accompany this prize-giving there could be a lecture set and a collection of articles where the recipients explain something of the work behind each prize. Low-budget lectures might not suit everyone, but it would be better than Horizon.

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NHS XP patch scratch leaves patient records wide open to HACKERS

David Pollard
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Joke

A Conspiracy Theory

This is all deliberate. The plan is to have lots and lots of medical data leaked and to be able to pass the buck and blame someone else; in this case Microsoft who lots of people hate anyway. Then when it comes to questions about the new Care.Data database no one will have anything to lose.

Icon because the alternative it to cry.

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Brit cops nab six in Silk Road 2.0 drugs sting

David Pollard
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brain usually gets damaged

I know a couple of people who have managed to overcome their alcohol addiction, at least for a while. There appears to be a certain amount of recovery over a period of a few months, but like others who have over-used this drug I fear their may be some permanent impairment of mental capacity. Alcohol is not terribly safe, especially if used on a regular basis.

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Amazon: Put our ALWAYS ON MICROPHONE in your house, please. WHAT?

David Pollard
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Re: This is bad but inevitable - "trojan horse"

Shouldn't that be Trojan House ?

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GP records soon wide open again: Just walk into a ‘safe haven’

David Pollard
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Too late to change to a distributed database?

Perhaps the way to make care.data more acceptable would be to change the order of collation and analysis, by pre-processing queries at the local level, at the GP surgery, clinic or hospital, and then sending in the statistical results securely to build up the complete picture. In most cases the pre-processed data would be truly anonymous rather than being in the form of records 'anonymised' and tagged for central collation.

Rather than creating an extra copy of all data to be collated in an additional large and potentially vulnerable central database this alternative approach would use only the presently held distributed data. Security would be much greater. There would be much less likelihood of loss, theft, malfeasance, system creep or covert access.

In addition the uses to which the data was being put would be open to inspection. This aspect could even be enhanced with appropriate choice of query language so that queries would be reasonably easy to interpret, perhaps for comment in the public domain.

The gain in accountability and consequently in public trust would be immense. And none of the benefits that are being claimed for the centralised system would be lost.

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Rovnix Trojan infection outbreak infects 130,000 machines in Blighty

David Pollard
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Trollface

Re: In many years of using Windows ...

"Do so many people really click on the links ?"

Enough!

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UK.gov mulls what to do about digital currencies

David Pollard
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Around £60m worth are circulating

Does this mean that the EU paymasters will be increasing their demand, or has it already been included in estimates of the hidden economy?

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New GCHQ spymaster: US tech giants are 'command and control networks for TERROR'

David Pollard
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Calling NHS techies

It would be interesting to know if or to what extent there are plans to integrate medical records from the NHS Care Data programme into the spooks' databanks. As background information this would presumably be quite valuable to them.

In fact such central collation of personal data and snooping would do more harm than good, and not only because of the loss of public confidence. It would present a huge risk if such data were to become available for blackmail, coercion and spear fishing.

If any NHS contractors have inside knowledge of this, or plans to redeploy a version of the Child Database, or development of Deloite's RYOGENS programme for predictive policing of potential troublemakers, then I believe El Reg is among others who have set up facilities for secure and anonymous communication.

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Data protection laws come to the rescue of poor, underpaid UK MPs

David Pollard
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Inland Revenue rules

OK it's HMR&C these days, this isn't quite the same as a tax return, and there's something of a conflict between the more stringent requirements of public service and the necessary flexibilities of parliamentary privilege ... but .. if you don't have the paperwork to back up your tax return then you have to prove that their estimates of what has occurred is wrong.

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