* Posts by Dave 126

6501 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

A Logic Named Joe: The 1946 sci-fi short that nailed modern tech

Dave 126
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>The web as a store of information is basically the old Public Library system with wider scope.

Yep! In the Victorian book Three Men in a Boat, the narrator becomes a hypochondriac by reading medical textbooks in the British library. I have since seen a parallel with people self-diagnosing on the internet.

There were other Victorian phenomena that could be seen as precursors to those in A Logic Named Joe. For example, subscribers could listen to live concerts, delivered over telephone. 'On demand entertainment' wasn't that unheard of.

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Apple engineers rebel, refuse to work on iOS amid FBI iPhone battle

Dave 126
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>How do the FBI crack one iPhone without being able to crack *all* iPhones?

The FBI's request was that Apple write a custom version of iOS that allows an unlimited number of pass-code guesses without locking the phone (currently, iOS allows you three guesses, then makes you wait thirty seconds for a fourth guess, then a minute for a fith guess, then ten minutes... etc), and then an FBI agent would take the iPhone in question to Apple. The FBI could claim that they were not asking to be given the custom iOS version, but ionly for Apple to use it under their supervision.

However, Apple claim that if the do write said software, the doors would be open for the FBI to ask to use it again in future (the 'thin end of the wedge' argument).

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Dave 126
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>Any one want an anti democratic phone?

An ideal democracy might be one in which private citizens can privately communicate with each other to discuss who to vote for. Or discuss forming their own political party and hold themselves up to be voted for (or not) by their peers. There have been in history cases of US government organisations infiltrating and smearing groups with political views that differ from their own.

>A phone or tablet produced by a terrorist supporting company?

Terrorists also use Casio watches and Toyota vehicles. Some might use Sure For Men anti-antiperspirant deodorant for all I know (I can image the advert now... "When you have spent all day trekking across a hot desert carrying a heavy anti-aircraft missile, you need protection you can trust!" )

I notice that Donald Trump's iPhone boycott lasted all of about three days.

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Dave 126
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Re: The end of Apple

>A. For most people in the US, China has little to no interest in spying on them 24/7. Unlike the US Government."

>>Are you kidding? The Chinese government would love to be able to tap into any US phone any time they wanted.

The Chinese (corporations and government) are more interested in corporate and strategic espionage. So they would be interested in what was on the HDD of a US aerospace engineer, but not too bothered about Mrs Trellis's (of North Wyoming) holiday snaps.

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Astronaut trio blast off to space station with ... er, rearview mirror toy?

Dave 126
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Or a nodding Churchill Insurance bull dog voiced by Bob Mortimer.

Also, the very first appearance of the Sega character Sonic the Hedgehog was as an air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror of a car in the arcade racing game Rad Mobile.

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Dave 126
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>probably started by Gagarin like so many other traditions.

I like the tradition of cosmonauts and astronauts peeing against the wheels of the crew transporter on the way to the launchpad. Gagarin first did it out of necessity, and subsequent crews have done it because it is lucky. Apparently female cosmonauts bring a pre-filled bottle of pee (cue a Blue Peter style "Here's one I made earlier!") with them to splash on the wheels.

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Woz: World-changers to Apple Watches, why pay for an overpriced band?

Dave 126
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>WTF is "The Internet"- as a representation of a social group- supposed to mean these days anyway?

What the fuck does 'WTF' mean?

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Dave 126
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Re: watch bands

>I'm not a wrist-band guy myself, but Woz isn't either, and doesn't pretend to be.

Woz takes some delight in gadgets and tinkering. He's been known to wear an expensive, unusual, impractical (and I think fun) Nixie-tube watch.

http://www.cathodecorner.com/nixiewatch/

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Dave 126
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Re: Who actually wears a watch anymore, and why?

>Who actually wears a watch anymore, and why? Serious question.

@ jake

You've told us before that Mrs jake keeps horses, and so I assume she also rides them. Surely it would be easier for outdoors people such as her to tell the time without letting go of the reigns with one hand digging into a pocket?

Not everybody wakes up next to an alarm clock, eats their breakfast under the kitchen clock, drives to work with a clock on their dashboard, sits in front of a computer with a clock on teh desktop etc etc. Many people do, I grant you, but surely you can agree that not everybody does?

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Dave 126
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The obvious to Woz. I have a lot of respect and affection for him. I like that his personal watch is huge and impractical, since it uses Nixie tubes to display the time. It's an item of 'self expression' for him, since he's a proud hands-on geek.

However, leaving to one side the argument over the utility of smartwatches, if you wish to sell lots then you have to appeal to people who have a different view about their own image.

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NASA celebrates 50-year anniversary of first spaceship docking in orbit

Dave 126
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Re: On a positive note...

>It does however feel like playing number games when the entire Middle East and swathes of Africa appear to be on fire.

Maybe. But then sometimes people become apathetic because a situation is reported as hopeless.

In any case, we should never let ideas of 'what should be done' inform our perception of the facts. Get the facts clear first, and you will be better empowered to do the right thing. If you bodge your outlook to fit an ideology, no matter how well intentioned or benign, you will do nobody any favours.

(And for sure, the situations in parts of the Middle East and Africa are terrible and complex in their causes and possible solutions, and are not to be underestimated.)

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Dave 126
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Re: On a positive note... / Dave 126

>Care to share your data on that?

My pleasure:

http://ourworldindata.org/VisualHistoryOf/Violence.html#/2

(Though it was probably something I originally heard ion the radio)

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Dave 126
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Re: On a positive note...

Ah well.

Still, there are billionaires who are set on going to Mars, and who seem to have a working business model to develop the required kit.

And the percentage of the world's population caught up in violent conflict is at a historical low.

And yeah, we have a massive world population, some of whom have miserable lives, but still leaves a few more billion souls leading happy enough lives today than there were a few decades ago.

I'm not an unalloyed optimist, but sometimes you need to look at things afresh to maintain an approximation of objectivity.

There are going to be some challenges ahead of all of us.

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Remix OS: China's take on an Android operating system – but for PCs

Dave 126
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Re: @naive - Promising

>"Android is a bugger to keep up to date and patched...

>>That's wrong. Native Android devices (Nexus) for example get security patches on a regular basis

Sorry, I mean that Android is a bugger for the *vendors* to keep patched and up to date.

Google release the new code, Platform Development Kit, to the chipset vendors (eg Qualcom) who then release a Board Support Package to the ODM (in the case of Nexus, that might mean LG or HTC or whoever). Test, and repeat if needed. With Nexus devices is no carrier involved to slow things down further, but the update might still have to be tested by regulatory authorities. Repeat if needed.

So updates for Nexus devices will be quicker than for others, but it still requires more effort on the part of the involved parties than it would if Google were to create a mobile OS from scratch today.

Or course this is transparent (not a bugger!) for the end-user, so you're correct in that way.

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Dave 126
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Re: Hmmm, Intel and Android...

>If you want fast graphics with low power requirements, an AMD APU craps all over the Intel + separate graphics card equivalent.

That's as maybe, but are you going to be using your fast graphics 100% of the time? Probably not.

If you use high-performance graphics for most of the time (you're a gamer, or run engineering simulations etc) then you'd do well not to stray too far from a wall socket, regardless of your CPU vendor.

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Dave 126
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Re: @naive - Promising

>Combined with google apps, google could offer an alternative for Windows PC's which would be hard to ignore by CFO's.

Android is a bugger to keep up to date and patched. Some technical reasons dating back to Android 1.0 mean that keeping Android promptly updated and patched is a mess. Hence Google's ChromeOS, which can be kept up to date very easily.

>I keep finding the lethargy of google on this area quite amazing, there is an enormous opportunity for an unified android for phones tablets and desktops.

Android apps are largely geared towards a touchscreen interface. ChromeOS apps are more geared towards mouse and keyboard. ChromeOS is more modern than Android, and was no doubt designed with knowledge earned from the development of Android. i.e pitfalls were avoided.

>Also with phones which can be used as PC.

Meh. So say MS and Ubuntu. I can't be arsed. Much better user experience from buying discrete SoC-on-a-HDMI-stick - the bill of materials is pretty low. Software should be used instead to manage syncing active documents etc between phone and stick. More akin to Apple's (actually existing and used) 'Continuity' feature twixt iOS and OSX machines. It's the better idea - so steal it.

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Dave 126
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Re: Disappointed, no "new" OSes

>Well, a new non-Linux, non-Windows, non-BSD OS is a tall order.

Nor is QNX new (indeed, it is long battle-hardened in safety-critical systems), and it underpins BB10 which can run some Android apps (with some voodoo).

QNX's small size and real-time nature actually make it a better fit for most IoT applications than Linux. However, it is not open source, so organisations will build their wares on the potentially sub-optimal* but cheaper and more convenient starting point of Linux.

*sub-optimal in the horses-for-courses sense. I'm not knocking Linux per se.

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Dave 126
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Re: Hmmm, Intel and Android...

>there is AMD as well as Intel in the x86 sphere

There is AMD, but they have been struggling to match Intel's performance/Watt for a while now, making them sub-optimal for mobile applications.

The trend over the last few years had been for laptops et al to be sold on the duration of their battery, as opposed to how fast they are outright. Since the tasks that most consumers put laptops to are already fast enough with existing CPUs, it seems a sensible choice.

- http://www.anandtech.com/show/10000/who-controls-user-experience-amd-carrizo-thoroughly-tested

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Who'd be mad enough to start a 'large-scale fire' in a spaceship?

Dave 126
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>But what about the whole, everybody dies thing

?

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Dave 126
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Re: Saffire-4?

Maybe, as long as they are certain that an 'uncontrolled fire' doesn't result in debris being propelled into an orbit where it might interfere with other spacecraft.

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Dave 126
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Re: Why would NASA want to turn a strip into a crisp? (Or into smoke)

>Or is it that they came to realize some materials classed as non-flammable still may be ignited, given the right amount of heating?

There is also the scenario of an oxygen cylinder leak, and in such an oxygen-enriched atmosphere many materials that we think of as not flammable can catch fire.

Sadly NASA do have experience of this on Earth. Apollo 1's three crew members died in a launch rehearsal test, because their cabin was pressurized with pure oxygen.

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Why should you care about Google's AI winning a board game?

Dave 126
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Re: As Emo Philips said...

Give Boston Dynamics another year or so and you won't be so cocky! :)

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Dave 126
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Re: @Dave Bollocks

>So can humans think 80 moves in advance?

No, we don't. And even before DeepBlue beat Garry Kasparov, computers were calculating far more moves ahead than the humans that beat them at chess. Humans tackle the problem differently. Go players talk of 'intuition', i.e they aren't calculating the the decision tree in a formal manner, but relying on familiarity and a 'feeling' in some situations.

Mr Gumby - just play some Go, and things will become clearer. There are free versions (you vs CPU) you can play on your PC or tablet. For a quick game, you can play on a 9X9 grid. It's very easy to learn. Enjoy!

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Dave 126
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Re: @FatGerman

Here's Murray Campbell, one of the leads in IBM's DeepBlue computer that beat Garry Kasparov, on the difference between Go and Chess:

I don’t play Go, I’ve only played a few games in my life, but I certainly know a fair amount about it. Both games are immensely huge and once you get past 10 to the hundredth power, 10 to 120, 10 to 170 [in number of possible positions], they’re all just immensely huge, very complex games. But Go has the characteristic that wasn’t true in chess, that it’s very difficult to evaluate a Go position just by looking at it. A medium-good chess player like myself can sit down and in a few hours probably write an evaluation function that is pretty good at evaluating chess positions — nowhere near grandmaster level, but it’s good enough that when you combine it with the search it produces very high quality play.

- http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/12/11211306/ibm-deep-blue-murray-campbell-alphago-deepmind-interview

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Dave 126
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Re: @Dave Bollocks

>(Do this for 10 levels of recursion deep.)

That is the issue, Mr Gumby: the advantage or otherwise of a certain move might not be apparent until the later stages of a game, often 80 moves or more later. (In this respect it is very unlike chess, where generally materiel and position can be analysed).Certainly well beyond the ten moves you give it. So even if you whittle your choice of roughly 19*19 choices down to 100 (?), you could still be looking at 100^80, and still not know if the individual move helps you.

>I'm not sure of how fast this would be..

to asses a possible 100^80+ moves? How many universes have you got?

>but if its too slow...

It will be. By dozens of order of magnitude.

> but that should be more than enough to beat a human.

No, it never has been. Not even against amateur club players, let alone professionals. Which is why this AlphaGo team have not used the approach you have outlined.

>While I am not a Go player.

That is clear. But hey, you're not an idiot. You just overlooked an aspect of a game you haven't played, that's all. It's like the proverb of the man who takes as payment from a king of a grain of rice, doubled on each square of a chess board. 1,2,4,8... (and 60 squares later...)

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Dave 126
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Re: Poker

>GO which is afterall basically a game of logic.

Go is not really logic in the traditional sense. Certainly not basic logic. You can't know whether a certain move is good or bad until many, many moves later. Have you played?

>Poker Seems to me to be a better game to evaluate human type 'thinking'

That is not their goal. Baby steps and all. Also, poker just wouldn't make a great example of any single thing, such as face recognition, or narrow-bandwidth IR sensors. Detractors would say the poker-bot had an unfair advantage (no face, no tell). It's just unclear.

Anyway: https://xkcd.com/1002/ "Difficulty of various games for computers"

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Dave 126
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Re: Maybe it's not all it's cracked up to be?

>That sounds to me much more like human programming than genuine machine learning

No, it isn't human programming.

Why are you repeating to us something you've roughly grasped from the BBC didn't who didn't fully grok a tweet by a man who was just exhibiting good sportsmanship? Surely you've heard the expression 'Chinese whispers'?

Go to the source:

https://deepmind.com/alpha-go.html

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Dave 126
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It can't learn from anyone on the internet.

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Dave 126
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Re: Bollocks

>So it's still relying on the learning-by-studying-past-papers technique of passing exams.

No! No, it really isn't. That approach wouldn't wouldn't beat even an amateur human Go player.

The thing about Go is that you can't calculate (intuit, maybe, but not calculate) how well you are doing during the game - the possession of territory is just too changeable. This means that you can't calculate whether a certain move will be to your advantage.

Please read up* on the how the game is played and come back here. Even better, play some games yourself - against a computer or human (over the internet, if needs be). And that goes for everyone who up-voted FatGerman.

Don't take it from me, take it from Albert Einstein, Paul Erdos, John Nash, Alan Turing, Jacob Bronowski and the philosopher and drug dealer Howard Marks, amongst others.

*If you want to know how the Google team did it, the five minute video is worth watching. And is gives an idea if the challenge of Go.

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Microsoft traps and tortures poor little AI in soulless Minecraft world

Dave 126
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The AI has to work out its environment from its stimulus:

"Okay Dougal, one more time: This is very small. They are far away."

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Dave 126
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>Redmond's platform, due to be open-sourced this summer,

Wait all year for one open source Ai platform, and two come along at once.

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Mechanic computers used to pwn cars in new model-agnostic attack

Dave 126
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Re: This is going to lead to wholly new challenges..

Using a car analogy is like driving an old Volvo... it's a bit clumsy, contains more than you need it to, and people groan when they see it coming.

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Computer says: Stop using MacWrite II, human!

Dave 126
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Re: TROPPUS TI

>Highlghts of that fiasco included the firewall blocking Google as a gambling site [Must have been the "I feel lucky" button!]

Haha! In the nineties there were lots of stories about the trouble caused by 'smut filters' returning false positives. A round-up of the best might be worthy of a Reg article!

I remember reading in New Scientist reported that Beaver University in Pennsylvania eventually changed its name because it fell foul of these smut filters. (Though this report suggests that 'smut filters' were just another straw on the camel's back: http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=94962&page=1 )

The trouble with filtering based on key words is our human tendancy to make almost *any* word a slang term for something naughty!

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LG builds a DAB+ digital radio radio into a smartmobe

Dave 126
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Re: Bad for the Consumer

>When DAB does drop out (very rare now) then FM will almost-seamlessly kick in -

For me, the only real reason to have DAB is to listen to a station that is not available on FM - i.e Radio 6 Music. It is also a good station for reminding me that I do not already own all teh music I would wish to, and that there is still so much good stuff out there (some times I can forget that).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a DAB champion: - my DAB receiver / FM transmitter is in a box somewhere, because DAB reception near me is too patchy, because I accidentally set fire to my van's 12v ('fag lighter') socket, because I often just stream spoken-word podcasts when driving, and because the SD cards in my car stereo hold plenty of music.

FM - low power, reliable. Long may it live. Let's have DAB by all means, but government noises about turning off FM are worrying.

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Clear November in your diary: SpaceX teases first Falcon Heavy liftoff

Dave 126
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Re: Money for nothing ?

>This sounds like a complete waste of a good Indian Pale Ale.

Well, there's plenty of rubbish Indian Pale Ale on the market at the moment, so just use that!

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Dave 126
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"Clear your diaries - we've just won a massive contract!" or "Make a note in your diary for the 27th June" are examples of how we often might use the term 'diary'. It also refers to a small pocket book that is divided into the days of the year.

We don't refer to a 'pocket calender', and a calender is usually thought of as a desk or wall-mounted collection of paper leaves. Single-sheet posters, often around A2 size, with a roughly 1" square for each day of the year are often referred to as 'year planners'.

We will also keep a journal - keep a diary - in a 'diary', too - usually a blank or lined book.

Hope that helps.

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Monster motor breathes fire in Mississippi

Dave 126
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Re: Pressure

>three miles beneath the ocean... How is that comparison useful to anyone?

Haha, maybe to the engineers of the Alvin submersible, perhaps!

http://xkcd.com/1040/large/

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Dave 126
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Re: Hmm. How about Saturn V

>Edit: 2 grams of antimatter is a LOT and illustrates how much energy you need...

Indeed. E=mc^2 where E is energy, m is mass (in this example, 0.004 Kg since the 2 grams of antimatter would react with 2 grams of normal matter) and c, the speed of light in a vacuum, is a really, really big number. All multiplied by the same really, really big number.

So, E = shitloads.

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Dell's Ubuntu-powered Precision Sputnik now available worldwide

Dave 126
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Re: Multiple no-buy flags

It would be easier to parse your comment for how AMD is suitable - or superior - for certain use-cases or workloads if it wasn't written in such pejorative language. Good points should stand by themselves.

As for "Intel inside, idiot outside", well, non-idiots will know what their workload is, and where to find appropriate independent benchmarks - and then make up their own minds before buying.

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Dave 126
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>without price info, this story is a bit "so what?"

What's the point of the Reg posting the prices when they are amenable to change? The article tells you how to find the Ubuntu laptops on the Dell website, and anyone who is about to drop hundreds of groats on a new machine will spend more than the minute it would to check the price on their purchasing decision.

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DARPA to geeks: Weaponize your toasters … for America!

Dave 126
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Re: Sorry, DARPA

>Sorry, DARPA. Those of us with a clue don't work on consumer goods anymore.

I'm sure they will be inconsolable.

Seriously though, it makes no odds to me if I'm blown up by explosives derived from fertiliser or by those from a military supply chain. The results are the same if the timer used is purpose-made, or constructed from a cheap digital wristwatch.

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Dave 126
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Re: Seems arse about face

>I could just imagine the fun that the Monty Pyhon team would have had with 'Flying Toast as weapons of mass destruction'.

Spike Milligan had already beaten them to it with the "The Jet-Propelled Guided NAAFI" episode of the Goon Show. (A NAAFI in this context was a canteen run by the Navy Army Air Force Institute for the benefit of British military personnel.)

Good Heavens, Sir! It's a plan of a new Guided NAAFI! A self-contained missile capable of carrying eighty-two staff, ten NAAFI pianos, sixty thousand gallons of tea and twelve tons of buttered crumpets, being shot six thousand miles up and set fully operative at the point of impact in sixteen seconds. It sounds quite impossible.

The good thing about radio comedy is that the special effects budged is unlimited!

http://www.thegoonshow.net/scripts_show.asp?title=s06e19_the_jet_propelled_guided_naafi

EDIT: Audio here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwSQ0CBQuA0 Enjoy!

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What's next? FBI telling us to turn iPhones into pocket spy bugs? It'll happen, says Apple exec

Dave 126
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Re: @Dave 126

>Apple make a battery case now don't they? They could try incorporating a sliding cover into that.

Apple could, but that would be tantamount to them admitting they don't trust their own software stack, in addition to any aesthetic and manufacturing considerations.

Users who want to block their camera can do so with nearly any case by just sliding a chewing gum wrapper in front of the camera :)

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Dave 126
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>It would actually be simpler for the very paranoid to have a case with a dummy connector to plug into the speaker/microphone jack socket.

The switch between internal mic and headset is managed by software - plugging in a jack doesn't disable the internal microphone hardware per se. If we're working on the assumption that the phone's software is compromised, then I wouldn't trust a jack to disable the internal mic. So Kevin, you're not being paranoid enough mate! :)

(This can be demonstrated, at least on Android phones, with an App called 'SoundAbout' which is handy for using headphones that confuse the phone - typically headsets designed for iPhones. You can force the audio routing to your will, as a workaround. )

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Dave 126
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Simple plan that one, but more likely to be implemented in a 3rd party iPhone case than by Apple themselves. Or in any number of currently existing iPhone cases and a slip of foil-backed paper.

I don't know, but I would imagine that a bugged microphone would be more useful to spooks than a bugged camera, anyhow - and that would be harder to muffle. I suppose you could have a phone case with a small speaker, playing pseudo-random gibberish (or Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show - same difference) into the phone's microphones.

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German lodges todger in 13 steel rings

Dave 126
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Re: Pedant Alert

>OxfordDictionaries = Oxford dictionaries

No, it is Oxford Dictionaries. It is the name of an organisation, and thus a proper noun. Similarly, we have British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, and not Bbc.

Without the space, OxfordDictionaries suggests to most people here that it is probably a website, and the capitalised D aids legibility.

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Google emits Android N developer preview early to smoke out bugs

Dave 126
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Re: Wow

Windows Mobile supported Bluetooth Low Energy before Android did, though some Android handsets had the capable hardware at the time.

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Dave 126
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Re: Rearranging the deckchairs

>Every new Android version I hope for a saner update mechanism,

Manage your expectations, dotdavid!

There are some technical reasons that date back to Android 1.0 why Android updates can't be made saner without a bit of an upheaval (think of something akin to OSX moving from PowerPC to Intel). Google have nailed updates with ChromeOS, and it's possible that the two OSs might converge in future.

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Airbus' Mars plane precursor survives pressure test

Dave 126
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Re: Noah called, he wants his units back.

From the Perlan website:

- Airbus is providing consulting on carbon fiber manufacturing quality.

- Airbus is providing the Perlan Project with critical consultations on aircraft and systems reliability.

So it appears that Airbus aren't making any parts themselves, but providing advice - and money.

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US chap sharpens paradigm-busting scissors

Dave 126
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Re: History repeats

>I'm sure they predate the invention of the idea of discrimination.

Haha, I doubt that! In some medieval countries, no left-handed (sinister) man could become a knight. This influenced the chirality of spiral stair cases in castles - defending knights, fending off ascending attackers, had an advantage because they had more room to swing a sword with their right hand.

Or do you mean the idea of trying not to discriminate? : )

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