* Posts by Dave 126

5870 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

The Register's entirely serious New Year's resolutions for 2016

Dave 126
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Re: Better late than never

This article outlining the plan for 2016 is encouraging.

However, I also largely agree with what Gordon said above.

A belated Happy Birthday to the Reg!

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Here's your Linux-booting PS4, says fail0verflow

Dave 126
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Re: Typo?

PS2.

IIRC you needed a certain buggy game to break it, but then you had a handy network media player and C64 et al emulator. The only bit of PS2 hardware that was lacking was that that it didn't have USB 2 ports, so couldn't play AVI files from a memory stick.

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2016 in mobile: Visit a components mall in China... 30 min later, you're a manufacturer

Dave 126
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Re: Lol

Arguably they do. However, they are not making enough money from their fine handsets. They have vowed to sat in the game though, despite making losses.

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Dave 126
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Re: Maybe smartwatches are just ahead of their time?

The fashion at the moment is for large watches, 42mm or thereabouts. It might be that the people who can afford to buy a $1000+ tend to be older and thus might have weaker eyes,or it might just be that they want they expensive flashy item to be even more visible to others.

Personally, I favour a smaller watch with a rotating bezel, allowing me to see 'at a glance' the time, and the bezel allows for a very quick 'note' of the time, so I remember when to return to the car park to avoid a ticket, or when when to return to the kitchen to avoid a burnt dinner. So quick, so easy, so free of fumbling into a pocket for a phone and unlocking it and summoning up the countdown timer and then entering the desired number of minutes.

(Of course, if you still have an old Nokia, you can set a timer without needing to even look at the phone. Lets see now.... 'unlock star 5243 20'.... or was that to set the language to Norwegian, I forget. )

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Dave 126
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Re: Andrew !

"Rude alert! An electrical fire has knocked out my voice recognition unicycle! Many Wurlitzers are missing from my database. Abandon shop! This is not a daffodil."

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Dave 126
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Re: I do like the photo of the Apple Mouse

Function is a large part of design, they are not separate realms. It's a misconception so common that Dieter Rams prefers 'Form Engineer'.

I'm not sure why the USB port is underneath the Apple mouse, as opposed to on the 'nose' as it is on my Logitech wireless rodent. That said, the battery lasts so long I very seldom bother having the mouse plugged in whilst I am using it. This particular issue with the Apple mouse might be even less significant if the battery lasts for months on a single charge, as many mice do.

It doesn't matter to a user if a good idea is borrowed or stolen. Apple nabbed the iPod's scroll wheel from a Bang and Olufsen telephone, which made the iPod quicker to use than the otherwise superior iRiver H320 PMP. And who knows, maybe B&O themselves were 'inspired' by the jog wheel on a Sony analogue video-editing workstation? It really doesn't matter.

Apple have made some missteps, but there are enough examples of when they have included features that make life easier for the user.

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Dave 126
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Re: The title is no longer required

If you buy the phone outright, you are covered by the Sales of Good Act, so you won't be messed around by your carrier if it goes wrong.

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Dave 126
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Re: "ignited the PC revolution"

It's well worth googling "adams late night live dick smith" for a fine podacst (mp3 25 MB) in which he is interviewed by Philip Adams.

"Dick Smith, entrepreneur, philanthropist, businessman, aviator, sceptic and car radio installer."

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Dave 126
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Re: Wearables come with inconvenience?

Ah well. There are watches (or after marked coin-shaped devices that sit under your traditional watch) that don't try to do too much, but they aren't as widely reported as the power-hungry Apple and Android Wear efforts.

I would find great utility in being able to 'page' my phone from my watch. This function wouldn't even require a screen. Citizen and Casio make such watches, and the batteries last for over a year.

Deaf users benefit from having vibrating watch for phone notifications. Speaking of deaf users, some have had their light-bulbs connected to their doorbells for years.

Watches might have a role in solving a problem of out times - that of remembering multiple passwords.

The objects we take out of our house - bank cards and keys - effectively have the same function as each other; i.e identifying themselves to a piece of hardware, be it an ATM or a door lock.

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Debian Linux founder Ian Murdock dead at 42

Dave 126
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Re: The last tweets of Ian

>So if you're black and poor is OK if police treats you badly? While only if you're white and rich they should not?

He didn't say that. He first wrote "i'm hoping coming from a successful white guy it will help everyone", *suggesting* he believed that black and poor people are sometimes abused by police because society doesn't listen to them properly. Given several news stories, especially in the last couple of years, I can see why he might believe that. We don't know what he believed though, so best not to put words in his mouth.

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Upset Microsoft stashes hard drive encryption keys in OneDrive cloud?

Dave 126
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Re: Dual boot

See Alan Sharkey's post above.

New machines shipped with Win10 only.

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Dave 126
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Re: Loaded guns

chivo243 has a point, if your replace Computer Operator Licence with Computer Proficiency Test, much like the Bicycle Proficiency Test some children take. It is not mandatory, but generally it's a good thing.

Please do add ideas for included lessons below!

- Back up on to multiple redundant drives / media

- CAPS LOCK IS RARELY A GOOD IDEA

etc

Of course, my designer side feels that this could be made easier for inexperienced users, so:

- Every computer should be sold with removable media of equal size to its HDD, unless the buyer signs the 'I know what I'm doing, seriously' release form.

- Caps Lock should be placed by keyboard manufacturers in a different location, perhaps next to Esc.

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Dave 126
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Okay, most people might have data that is potentially socially embarrassing - pictures from Bob's party that got out of hand, or a catty email about Aunt Clara. You don't want it made public, but no-one is going to any great lengths to get at it.

A significant chunk of users are required by law to ensure the data on their machines is safe from 3rd parties, or else face fines. Y'know, professionals like doctors, researchers or lawyers - anyone who has information about other people, basically. Laptops do get left on trains and in pubs, or stolen from cars, so encryption that is safe from thieves and blackmailers is a must. To comply with the law they do not need to think about the resources of Nation State security agencies.

Then you get people who have commercially sensitive information, trade secrets and the like, and are a real target for industrial espionage. In a larger organisation, these users will have their machines administered by professionals.

Then you have journalists, civil rights activists and the like. Not only do they need the right hardware and software, but they need be educated and apply what they have learnt consistently. That's the hard bit.

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Dave 126
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Re: Making data recovery difficult

>Also if someone manages to hack into your Microsoft account and change the password then you could be locked out of your files.

Could you provide more detail? I'd assume that the encrypted data on your local machine would keep the same key - the data would still be accessible if the machine owner had the encryption key, which is not the same as the MS Account login details.

For the user to be locked out of their data, the data would have to re-encrypted.

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Dave 126
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>Consumers do not get to decide how secure their product is when they purchase Microsoft software.

Eh? There is nothing stopping educated users from using encryption of their choice.

For uneducated users, they now have encryption on by default (a step forward) AND have a means of recovering their data should they forget / lose their key (which let's face it, is going to happen to some people).

The real paranoid are going top use some specialist Linux dstro anyway. People with jobs that require they safeguard their clients data (doctors, lawyers etc) will find this MS system good enough (since they are complying with the data protection laws to avoid a fine in case they lose a laptop.... they aren't in fear of the NSA. )

I think this article is spot on, and its main criticism of MS is in their communication.

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US Marines kill noisy BigDog robo-mule for blowing their cover

Dave 126
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Re: So what's wrong with a mule?

During WW2, the British parachuted with mules into Burma. To avoid the braying mules giving their position away to the Japanese, they were 'devoiced' under anaesthetic. After each drop, the floor of the aircraft would have to be taken up and cleaned, to stop the mule urine from corroding the aircraft's wiring. Well, if I was a mule and shunted into an aircraft, I'd probably wet myself too.

https://spotlights.fold3.com/2012/03/05/mules-in-burma/

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Dave 126
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Re: "Warfighter"?

It is easy to grasp what they mean by 'warfighter', but it is the suggestion of euphemism that might people wary of it. It doesn't sound quite as fierce as 'warrior', which brings to my mind images of large bearded men wielding axes and swords, a la Beowulf. However, as someone has said above, it is better than 'peace keeper'.

'Friendly fire' - what is friendly about it?

'Crash landing' - um, okay.... though we could just call it a crash.

'Department / Ministry of Defence' - hahahaha

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Dave 126
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John Smith is correct in the reason the marines rejected it, but he seems to have missed that Bronek Kozicki did include 'quiet' in his list of criteria.

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Here – here is that 'hoverboard' you've wanted so much. Look at it. Look. at. it.

Dave 126
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Re: I always thought the control problem would be much worse than balencing on it.

Exactly. User reports of prior hoverboards (the magnet types that run on copper tracks) suggest they are be akin to trying to steer a snowboard that didn't have the sharp edge for cutting into the snow. i.e rubbbish.

This one might be slightly different, if some of the fans are vectored away from vertical, but still it doesn't seem great.

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Feeling abandoned by Adobe? Check out the video editing suites for penguins

Dave 126
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Re: Oh, and (totally OT)

I spotted myself that only today!

( I then looked around the cartoon to see if I could spot the date it was posted)

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You ain't nothing but a porn dog, prying all the time: Cyber-hound sniffs out hard drives for cops

Dave 126
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Re: Woo hoo! A canine dog!

'Canine dog' in the article was in a quote from a police officer... if he was speaking aloud at a press conference, he may well have meant (and said) 'K-9 dog' - to distinguish a trained police dog from Mrs Trellis-next-door's canine of uncertain ancestry.

It seems 'K-9' is often used in the US to refer to police dogs.

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Boffins unwrap bargain-basement processor that talks light and current

Dave 126
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Re: Shame about the paywall

Indeed. See:

An open-access “predatory” academic journal has accepted a bogus research paper submitted by an Australian computer scientist titled Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List.

- http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/25/journal-accepts-paper-requesting-removal-from-mailing-list

The PDF is here. Actually worth looking at to see the diagrams:

http://www.scs.stanford.edu/~dm/home/papers/remove.pdf [NSFW as it contains bad language writ large]

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I have you now! Star Wars stocking fillers from another age

Dave 126
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Episode 1 Racer (N64, PC, Dreamcast)

It wasn't bad! Not an all out classic like WipEout, but it was fun.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_I:_Racer

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Apple introduces new regime, hands more control to investors

Dave 126
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Re: Likewise...

Maybe. But it can't hurt that Tim Cook was bloody good at his job as COO. Jobs knew his days at Apple might be numbered, and his ways of doing thing may be reflected by the people he left behind there.

Certainly the times are uncertain... whilst Apple are as well placed as any company (what with having mountains of cash to buy start-ups and talent, and having a carefully managed, consumer-friendly image) to get a lead in The Next Big Thing*, we know that incumbent companies can often let their position go to waste**. Apple are at least aware of this, and have demonstrated some agility in the past.

*I don't know what that might be. Anyone here who thinks they do will be busy with NDAs and research, and won't be daft enough to post their ideas here.

**Easy example: Sony could have made an iPod-like device before Apple, if only they had seen which way the wind was blowing. They had years of research into suitable UIs and portable audio to draw upon.

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Dave 126
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Re: Bye, bye Apple...it was good (well, maybe) knowin' ya!

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched_reluctance_motor

A 'digital' motor requires a good control system to operate, which in this day and age means solid state electronics.

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Getting metal hunks into orbit used to cost a bomb. Then SpaceX's Falcon 9 landed

Dave 126
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Re: Why the unnecessary snark?

Not jealousy, but thinking that if we were mega-rich we would prefer a couple of days in orbit instead of a few minutes in free-fall.

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Dave 126
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Re: Real numbers would be interesting

@Credas

Yes, the first stage will require more fuel, but fuel is only a tiny part of the cost of the launch. I was amazed when I learnt how little of the launch cost is fuel. Musk's approach is neatly outlined by this:

Musk reiterated the origin of the SpaceX production model, saying fuel is only 0.3 percent of the total cost of a rocket, with construction materials accounting for no more than 2 percent of the total cost, which for the Falcon 9 is about $60 million.

So, the obvious cost savings are to be made by i, making the vehicle more cheaply, and ii, reusing it.

Musk has made the vehicle cheaper to build by:

-using the same propellant in the upper and lower stages means that operationally, you only need to have one set of fuel tanks. If you can imagine a situation where you have a kerosene first stage, hydrogen upper stage, and solid rocket side boosters, you’ve just tripled your cost right there.

- the upper stage of a Falcon 9 is simply a short version of the first stage. That may seem pretty obvious, but nobody else does that. They tend to create upper stage in a totally different way than they create the first stage.

- The Merlin engine — we used it on the upper stage of Falcon 9, on the main stage of Falcon 9 and on the first stage of Falcon 1. So we get economies of scale in use of the Merlin engine.

-Our tanks are friction stir welded, [aluminum] skin and stringer designed as opposed to machined aluminum, [giving us] a 20 fold advantage in the cost of materials, and our stage ends up being lighter …because geometrically, we can have deeper stringers.

- https://www.pehub.com/2010/06/elon-musk-on-why-his-rockets-are-faster-cheaper-and-lighter-than-what-youve-seen-before/

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Dave 126
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Re: Very much agreed

Speaking of XKCD, after Bezos' Shepard landing, Elon musk tweeted a link to Mr Munroe's website:

- "Congrats to Jeff Bezos and the BO team for achieving VTOL on their booster"

- "It is, however, important to clear up the difference between "space" and "orbit", as described well by https://what-if.xkcd.com/58/ "

[ https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/669129347555430400 ]

He wasn't snarky, either.

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Surface Pro 4: Will you go the F**K to SLEEP?

Dave 126
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>How many mainstream laptops have 2k screens?

A few, from Lenovo and Toshiba amongst others. However, the Surface, and the Surface Book, have 3:2 aspect ratios which for some will be reason enough to buy them over the near ubiquitous 16:9. The only other option is 16:10 from Apple. Again, if I am wrong here, please pretty please post a link to a non 16:9 laptop!! Thanks!

Windows was a bit behind OSX in the way it dealt with UI scaling on very high res screens, but apparently it's good now. The issue is that some 3rd party software for Windows isn't fully civilised yet (Photoshop, I'm looking at you). This chicken and egg situation (why buy a pricey high res laptop if the software isn't ready, why rework the software if there are few customers) might explain why high-res Windows laptops aren't yet common.

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Dave 126
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Re: I'll pass

I can understand how those of you who write software or manage massive storage systems are dubious about things like the Surface Tablet. However, my car mechanic has been using touch-screen PCs since WinXP Tablet Edition. A lot of the automotive diagnostic software has had the option of a touchscreen interface for years.

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Death Stars are a waste of time – here's the best way to take over the galaxy

Dave 126
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Re: Ships building ships

I've read 'em. I still choose the 'Orbital' variant of the concept because the topic was a reason to rearrange the mass of a planet.

A Ringworld is roughly described by the orbit of the Earth, and provides about 300 million times the habitable surface area.

An Orbital doesn't encircle a sun, and provides around a 100 times the habitable surface of the planet whilst using less matter.

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Dave 126
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Re: Confused

You then instruct the 'missiles' to arrange themselves into a habitat of the shape and location of your choosing. That is, of course, if the 'command and control' systems haven't been borked in a copying error (mutation) over thousands of generations.

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Dave 126
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Re: Ships building ships

And Banks alludes to what can happen if those self-repair mechanisms go wrong (like cancer) - resulting in pesky swarms of tiny machines that would if left unchecked turn all available matter into replicas of themselves. The culture assign some ships to 'pest control' duties.

As others have noted, he didn't originate the concept.

In Star Wars, people live on planets. In the Culture books, the matter of a planet would support far more life if it were re-arranged into a ring-shaped Orbital habitat.

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Dave 126
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Are we talking about...

...Self Hemogenizing Swarms, as Iain M. Banks dubbed them? He also used the word 'Smatter' (Smart Matter, IIRC). Other people have used the terms 'Grey Goo', or 'Von Neumann Machines'.

I confess, I didn't read the article - I haven't seen the Force Awakens movie yet, and was scared off by the spoiler warning.

To others who haven't seen the movie, you should avoid Wired.com, since they have spoilers in their headlines.

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Hillary Clinton says for crypto 'maybe the back door is the wrong door'

Dave 126
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Alert

Dear fellow commentards...

... let's take five minutes and imagine a near future, a speculative fiction. Let us imagine a near-future in which the whole idea of encryption is irrelevant.

A future in which encryption doesn't matter because so much cctv and drone video footage is collected that the location and behaviour of every citizen is known in real time. In such a scenario the authorities would learn very little from reading (broken) encrypted messages over what they already knew by observing subjects directly.

If this fictional authority has a MagicTechnolgyMachine that stopped all bombs from exploding or guns from firing, it wouldn't need to read the emails of any potential terrorist.

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Dave 126
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Go

>*ANY* door is a problem, since the effect is the same. A door is a door. It doesn't matter if it's a back door, side door or front door.

Eh? What Vimes has just described is indistinguishable from running over your computer with a steam roller then throwing the remains into a volcano. There has to be *one* door, otherwise you are deleting your data instead of encrypting it. Perhaps you mean you just want a single door, but a door to which only you or your intended correspondent have the key?

I say that in a friendly way. If I come across as pedantic, it because the people who are against back-doors ( i.e. broken encryption) largely have facts and accuracy on their side - especially when compared to politicians!

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Newspaper kills 'what was fake' column as pointless in internet age

Dave 126
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Re: Pot Meet Kettle

Arm yourself with a working grasp of statistics, and read newspapers from different parts of the political spectrum, as well as more specialised publications (farming, engineering, science, sociology etc). Go to the pub and listen to people of different walks of life in various trades and professions. Remember that not everyone can afford to go the pub.

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Dave 126
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Re: In unrelated news...

It's a device to administer electroshock therapy to shell-shocked (post traumatic stress disorder) soldiers in World War One. Other doctors at the time advocated more discipline, or tried placing lit cigarettes on the restrained patient's tongue. Others doctors did try 'talking therapies'.

Today, we have more former servicemen in prison or who have committed suicide than the national average. Promising treatments for PTSD include gardening, and also the use of MDMA ('Ecstasy'), both combined with talking.

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Dave 126
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Re: "fake news has taken on a much more unpleasant tone...

Yep, the old 'echo chamber' effect. It can happen anywhere, even on the Reg at times.

I once had a thought pop into my head - a 'Siamese twin' of a newspaper, with two editors (one of a Guardian persuasion, for example, the other more Daily Mail) and two versions of each story, side by side. By being 'joined at the hip', contested issues *might* be thrashed out more intelligently. Maybe. Just an idle idea.

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Dave 126
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Re: There will be a re-adjustment (hopefully)

>A white list experience, will probably be the future for many users. With only accredited, script free sites getting onto the list, or perhaps, a heavily censured portal.

"a heavily censured portal." - effectively this describes paid magazine apps, especially on Apple platforms. I haven't been keeping abreast of how well this working financially for publishers.

Generally, the paying consumer gets less trash, but this is by no means guarenteed - 'paid for' dead-tree newspapers like the Telegraph have been naughty in letting their content be influenced by wider business concerns. What is my source for this accusation? Why, Private Eye, a 'paid for' dead tree-only magazine.

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How to build a real lightsabre

Dave 126
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Loved the mini-Lightsabre in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film:

.... it's about 7" long, and slices bread from a loaf whilst simultaneously toasting it!

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Dave 126
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The light sabre effect is fairly easy to achieve using desktop-class hardware and software these days.

Get a broom handle and glue a table-tennis ball to the end as reference a reference point...

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Microsoft beats Apple's tablet sales, apologises for Surface 4 flaws

Dave 126
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Re: Peak Apple

That's a moot point, because the figures in the article are up to October and the iPad Pro was only sold from mid-November.

For digitiser sketching on the move, the only options are Wacom, MS or Apple... none are exactly cheap.

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Motorola’s X Force awakens a seemingly ‘shatterproof’ future

Dave 126
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The Z3 is a good phone but the official Sony case is rubbish and expensive - it doesnt protect one whole edge of the screen if you drop it when open.

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Dave 126
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Re: Broken iphone screens...

plastic screens scratch very easily, making the screen difficult to read in sunlight.

best current solution is probably to use an aftermarket - and user replaceable - mineral glass screen protector instead of the common plastic film protectors.

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Apple finally publishes El Capitan Darwin source

Dave 126
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'Darwin' underpins OSX, and Apple have always made it open source. However, it doesn't include lots of Apple's propriety OSX gubbins, such as the GUI elements, so it cannot run OSX applications.

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Google says its quantum computer is 100 million times faster than PC

Dave 126
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Re: Annealing???

Absolutely.

This technique's name is inspired by the metallurgic process of annealing to remove stress.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_annealing

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Dave 126
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Re: sorry, not a geek but

@ WillbeIT

> sorry, not a geek

Don't worry! Quantum physics in general has confused and upset our greatest physicists - though real quantum effects have been used in what is now everyday technology. The jury has been out on this D-Wave machine for a little while, because of the difficulty in proving, or devising tests to prove, that it is faster than the 'classical computers' we use everyday. What D-Wave have never claimed is that their machine can perform Shor's Algorithm.... And this is important. Let's pause here a moment.

Quantum systems can exist such that all their particles are both ON and OFF at the same time ( I'm grossly oversimplifying here), so if it has enough 'quantum bits' (qbits) it could calculate every possible answer to a question at the same time, instead of trying one answer at a time like a normal computer would. The implications for breaking encryption are huge.

Our encryption is based on the difficulty of factorising very big numbers, but an algorithm for doining so quickly using (theoretical) quantum computers to do so has existed for years, and it is called Shor's Algorithm.

What D-Wave claim, and what Google believe they have a use for, is that their machine can find optimisations in quadratic equations.

tl;dr A future quantum computer has the potential to massively upset our computer encryption, but not one based on this machine. There has been a lot of debate amongst academics as to what exactly this machine is doing, but Google - the customer- seem happy with it.

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Now you can tailor Swift – Apple open-sources the whole shebang

Dave 126
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>The decision is a move away from the typical Apple approach of tightly controlling all its products

It's hardly unprecedented:

Apple made Webkit, ResearchKit and Darwin OS open source. FireWire used patents owned by quite a few companies, so wasn't Apple's to give away, but was available to any hardware maker that wanted to include it for less than a dollar per device.

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So why exactly are IT investors so utterly clueless?

Dave 126
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If Mr Dabbs is in need of catharsis, he could do worse than to watch Mike Judge's Silicon Valley:

http://www.hooli.xyz/#inspiration

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