* Posts by Primus Secundus Tertius

448 posts • joined 31 Oct 2010

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It's whiff, Jim, but not as we know it: Curiosity sniffs ORGANICS on Mars

Primus Secundus Tertius
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<p>I would like to ask whether CO2 was found with the CH4.

That could mean bacteria splitting acetic acid, CH3COOH.</p>

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Microsoft whips out real-time translator for Skype calls

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TV subtitles

People have complained, rightly, about the poor quality of machine generated TV subtitles. It would be useful to test the speech decoding of this MSFT system with those subtitles.

Even better if they could get it to take useful minutes of meetings comprising: subject discussed, principal arguments for and against, decisions taken, actions placed.

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UK banks ill-prepared for return of the rabid POODLE

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Barclays in 2013 were still using Windows XP, on the machine I saw in a manager's office.

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Happy headlines

"Virgin laid bare".

As opposed to being fully clad.. Nice but naughty, Reg!

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Independent inquiry into British air-traffic-control IT nightmare

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Software checking

It seems that a faulty flight plan caused the FP server to fall over.

Looks like poor error checking of input data. But it takes a good programmer/designer to produce good error checking: he or she has to scope out a range of error cases surrounding what is valid input, otherwise bad data just crashes the program. Which is what may have happened here.

That means hiring a good designer/programmer rather than the cheapest contractor.

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Re: Political PHBs

Like it used to be in the German Democratic Republic.

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Control freaks

The phrase "Air Traffic Control" illustrates the control freak mentality behind the whole current setup. What we need are just two relatively simple functions: a collision avoidance function, and a priority function for take-off and landing. Let all the other details sort themselves out automatically.

With that approach, NATS could indeed be replaced by an iphone on every plane.

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Are we ready to let software run the data centre?

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Re: SDN v PHB

Yes, there are managers like that. But I doubt if they read El Reg. The time to be afraid will be when this article appears in a management magazine.

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UK flights CRIPPLED by system outage that shut ALL London airspace

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Yes, it was SF, and a high flying CIA plane (a U2) was somehow thought to be much lower. I did wonder if it had been flying at 65536 feet.

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Re: Just wait until

That happened where I worked. I was studying the sky and clouds in true Fotherington-Thomas style when there was a flash at gound level and our computers died. The bang came a second later.

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Friday pm

@Mrspudulike

" ... Friday afternoon..."

You have probably hit on the cause of the problems.

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

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No such thing

I object to the phrase "Basic human right". The most we can ask for is that we are not robbed, murdered, or worse.

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MP caught playing Candy Crush at committee meeting: I'll ‘try’ not to do it again

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How committees work

In most committees there is one person who knows what the current subject is about, and the others are there to vote as their party dictates. Self-righteous outsiders should not try to interfere with a working system, but simply vote for rhe other lot every few years.

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Whitehall at war: Govt’s webocrats trash vital digital VAT site

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Re: Sounds to me....

I was once involved in a computer-buying exercise for a very technical government department, before the scientific civil service was all privatised. The department head told us they had managed to keep out the useless bureaucrats of CCTA, but had to satisfy the money men in a certain government contracts office.

So I am surprised at the praise for CCTA from Geezer.

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Device fingerprinting tech: It's not a cookie, but 'cookie' rules apply

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MS Windows

Never mind the websites. Microsoft use device fingerprinting to enforce their Windows licences.

Is that to become illegal?

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By the Rivers of Babylon, where the Antikythera Mechanism laid down

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Knowledge lost

@Bunbury

You make a good point that knowledge becomes lost. It happens all the time in the computer industry, as old software and hardware is neglected, and knowledge of them disappears as people retire or move on. Fashionable managerial policies have a lot to answer for.

Sometimes this is because we become richer, and good ideas become affordable realities. I have commented in other threads that scaled fraction arithmetic has been largely replaced with floating point arithmetic.

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Under the Iron Sea: YES, tech and science could SAVE the planet

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Re: Iron is not enough

I have always undestood that phosphorus in some soluble form was a limiting element. Phosphate is notoriously insoluble.

Secondly, my geology lecturers always pointed out that a creature being fossilised is a rare event. Sounds sensible, otherwise we would be overwhelmed by fossils instead of regarding them as rarities. So fertilising the ocean may make fish (and squids and many small other invertebrates) but is unlikely to fix CO2 as fossil carbon.

Most of the world's carbon exists as CO2 in chalk cliffs, seashells, etc. The organic carbon is a minor contaminant.

For those reasons I believe Worstall is mistaken.

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Social media data is RIDDLED with human behaviour errors, boffins warn

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For extroverts

Facebook is for extroverts. So half of us will never want to be involved.

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UK boffins: We'll have an EMBIGGENED QUANTUM COMPUTER working in 5 YEARS

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Re: Emulation

@DAM and asdf...

Thank you, gentlemen, for your answers. This is El Reg at its best.

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Emulation

I have never understood why quantum computing cannot be emulated. Presumably it can be described mathematically, so???

Yes, you would need a source of random numbers, but these are fairly well known.

Reg readers, please help.

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World's best threat detection pwned by HOBBIT

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"The hacker will always get through."

Almost what was said by Stanley Baldwin, a former British prime minister, in 1932.

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UK computing museum starts reboot of 65-year-old EDSAC

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Symbolic machine code

In 1967 I started programming a Ferranti Argus minicomputer. It had a primitive assembler that alllowed addresses such as v12, v13, etc. So not a fully fledged assembler by the standards of the contemporary IBM 1620, another machine I used.

I later learned that EDSAC programs were written in a similar primitive assembler: clearly an ancesral work.

Neither EDSAC nor Argus had floating point hardware, so for science and engineering calculations you had to understand scaled fraction arithmetic. Not many people did.

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DNA survives fiery heat of re-entry on test rocket

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Hot life

The article mentions temperatures of 130 degrees C. This will be reached, under pressure, in hot springs on Earth that are full of algae and bacteria. So not really anything new.

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Why did it take antivirus giants YEARS to drill into super-scary Regin? Symantec responds...

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Exobiology

Project Seti has looked in the wrong place for ET life. It turns out they have been looking at us.

The cunning part is how they get their results back to Alpha Centauri, or the Andromeda galaxy.

Why the secrecy? Remember that when the first pulsar was discovered, and was thought to be an ET clock signal, the facts were kept secret for six months. The lamest excuses were given when things were published.

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'Cleantech' a dirty word for VCs? RUBBISH!

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Make it like VAT

A carbon tax could be made like VAT, with payments and deductions.

You buy oil, you pay the tax. You produce "non-CO2 carbon" as petrol, polythene, PVC, nylon, or whatever, and you get rebated for the amount of carbon in the product, easily assessed by analysis.

On second thoughts, this will produce an enormous non-productive bureaucracy that will be worse than any amount of CO2. Best forget altogether the idea of a cabon tax.

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Cold? Cuddle these HOT GERMAN RACKS, yours for only 12,000 euro – we swear there's an IT angle

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Re: Nothing new here, move along

In the early 1980s my workplace was using an Array Processor: massively parallel arithmetic for e.g. Fourier transforms. It drew about 2KW of power, The first thing we did on a winter morning was to switch it on.

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GOD particle MAY NOT BE GOD particle: Scientists in shock claim

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Meson history

The meson was a theoretical prediction.

Then mesons were discovered in cosmic rays. But they were not "right" mesons: they were mu-mesons. The later discovery of pi-mesons justified the original theory.

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BOFH: SOOO... You want to sell us some antivirus software?

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El Reg is desperate to liven up its weekend section. Maybe one day they will give up on a bad idea.

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Languages don't breed bugs, PEOPLE breed bugs, say boffins

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Re: Real Programmers

Very true!

I saw lots of "engineers' Fortran" written in Coral66, Pascal, and C.

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Re: Erlang and more

Libraries cause as many problems as they solve. The Heartbleed bug was a conspicuous example, but there are many others.

The only libraries that are nearly reliable are the time-honoured functions in the C library, and their equivalents in Fortran and Cobol. All the new language libraries are rushed out by promoters who just want to get it onto their CVs.

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Dodgy arithmetic

In the 1970s I worked on various projects that used fixed point arithmetic, as floating point hardware was not available. Very few programmers could "get it".

Even if the computer operations were correctly coded, there were other algorithmic errors: most often, the loss of precision when subtracting a large number from a nearly equal number.

PCs now have floating hardware by default, but I do fear for micro-controller systems.

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

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@Trevor

Thank you for that comment. As it happens, I largely agree with it.

But we live in a society where people have different opinions, and we seek the kind of political and social compromises that allow everyone to feel that at least some of their wishes are respected. That was the point I was making about my colleague in that political discussion group.

I am not a part of what George Orwell referred to as the "Inner Party", and I have my reservations about them. But I am even less attracted to a Guardianista/Anarchist existence which would result if the majority views in this thread became dominant.

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Re: Put a cold nose up HIS arse!

@Gray

We in Britain have been exposed to threats for centuries. York v. Lancaster, catholics v. Elizabeth I, the gunpowder plot (5-Nov-1605), Irish terrorism, German espionage, Russian espionage. Then today we have middle east fanatics, and other espionage possibly Chinese though they deny it of course.

So we expect the government to take active measures to protect the state itself plus at least a few of the people.

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Re: I have no issues.....

If you think MPs have much influence on government policy, you are ignorant of these matters. Replace them on your list with: all Permanent Secretaries, the top four cabinet ministers (PM, Home Sec, Foreign Sec, Chancellor).

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Re: @Joe 48 - Facebook and Tor

@G Marsden

Or, as I saw it expressed in a cheap thriller story: "If they wancha, they gotcha".

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Re: Lost our trust

When the authorities find one "ne'er do well", as you call them, thay also want to find his or her associates before those others do more harm. That is why they need a trace of the last six months (say) on people who are not yet known to be offenders.

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Re: Want more surveillance?

The real problem was the "ten year rule": the doctrine that there would be no major war during the next ten years. This was imposed by the then chancellor of the exchequer, one Winston Churchill (*), and then cynically renewed by the Treasury every year.

I look at the current British government and its predecessors, and wonder if that rule has been quietly reinstated.

(*)Also responsible for raiding the Road Fund, a tax that was supposed to be reserved for spenfing on roads. Without Adolf, that is what Winston would be remembered for.

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@AC (The First)

That is a typical computer geek's view, somewhat shared by me.

But I was in a political discussion group where at least one man argued that a lot of the internet is just plain wrong - obscene, fraudulent, seditious..., and it should be stopped. I have some sympathy with that view also. There are laws against using telephones for those purposes, so why no law against the internet?

I am British, and there are enemies of my country out there. Even some of our 'friends' need watching. Within reason I am happy to help the authorities. Do I trust the authorities? Only to a limited extent. I was always uneasy when the work of the Security Services was extended from affairs of state to include major crimes. Thin end of the wedge... .

So Hannigan's arguments seem reasonable to me.

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Schneier, Diffie, ex-MI5 bod, privacy advocates team up on Code Red

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Troublemakers

Wow! What a bunch of troublemakers.

I hope the authorities keep an eye on them.

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UK.gov pushes for SWIFT ACTION against nuisance calls, threatens £500k fines

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Re: Economics 101

BT do or did sell telephone directories on CD. What is that if not a spam-call list?

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Re: Its a waste of time even complaining

The only British outfits I know of that respect the Telephone Preference List are the political parties. They know that nuisance calls in an election campaign would lose them votes.

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Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech

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other searches

@Christoph

Or the North Korean People's Reeducation Facilities?

Or, in the case of ISIL, the Yazidi Womens' Reorientation Centres?

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Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers

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Common lawmakers

I object to the phrase, " lawmakers in the House of Commons", used as El Reg notes that the proposed law must be endorsed in another place.

All MPs are equal, there is no special category of "lawmaker"; nor, so we are told, are there lawmakers elsewhere such as at Buckingham Palace or in the Security Services. The phrase should be replaced by "the House of Commons".

Once upon a time there were special lords, the law lords, who were the ones who decided law cases. Although some MPs, such as Privy Councillors, are more equal than others: they are called sooner to speak in debates.

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Steve Jobs' bio man tackles geeks who 'created the digital revolution'

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Greek geeks

The ancient Greeks developed complicated machanical calculators, but they were all burned when the Library of Alexandria was destroyed.

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WikiLeaks reveals new draft of Trans-Pacific Partnership

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Re: TPP: The People are Peasants

"We The People RULE."

Er, like Hungary 1956, Tianenmen 1989, ...

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Unrepresentative

It surprises me, an Englishman, that a seriously democratic country like the USA can make these proposals which are so much against the interests of the common man. Or, as FDR once put it, "the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid".

Have they forgotten "No taxation without representation"? Where are the People's Tribunes in this negotiating process?

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UK's a very popular target for EMEA cyberspies – report

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Why Turkey?

So the list of countries is:

UK - finance, probaably

Germany - engineering prowess

Saudi - probably by Israel

Turkey - This one I do't understand

Switzerland - finance.

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'Theoretical' Nobel economics explain WHY the tech industry's such a damned mess

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Hawtony - Hawaii to New York.

Or Mintex - Minnesota to Texas.

Or hyphenate those two into a distinguished double-barrelled name.

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Hedging with words

This article, and some others from Worstall, remind me of the legendary Professor Iffsen Butz, head of multidisciplinary studies at Vaguest County State College.

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Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First

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Re: Many of us are forced to use MS Software

I, too, get downvoted or flamed if I admit that I like some of the tricks that Access and One Note can do. But not as badly as the time I criticised St Snowden.

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