* Posts by Rob Findlay

17 posts • joined 11 Jun 2007

Boffins make graphene micro-distillery

Rob Findlay

um, desalination?

If it lets water through but precious little else, then could it turn contaminated or sea water into potable water?

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US robot ornithopter spy-hummingbird in flight test triumph

Rob Findlay

Hummingb...

...and what's its endurance? Any longer than that video?

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Half of UK road users support usage-based road charging

Rob Findlay
Boffin

Boring accountancy question

Any boring bastard know the answer to this one? Where in the nation's accounts is the capital value of the roads accounted for? They amount to something like 20% of a city's footprint, and plenty of hectares of countryside, and are therefore worth a fortune (though the scope for alternative uses is admittedly limited).

The point is, when we buy a rail ticket we're paying for the capital value of the track, railway land, and all. But much of the cost of driving is fixed: car tax, insurance, age-related depreciation. When we compare driving with rail we make an unfair comparison: the marginal cost of driving vs. the full cost of a train ticket. It would be much better if the comparison could be fairer, by making more of the cost of motoring variable.

Which is a longwinded way of saying that fuel- or road-use-taxes are the way to go. And that I don't like how much the gas-guzzler that hardly ever leaves my garage is costing me.

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Native Oz ducks being raped to extinction

Rob Findlay
Go

Female plumbing not devious enough perhaps?

Female mallards are fitted with confusing plumbing to confound the eager males...

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11764-female-ducks-fight-back-against-raping-males.html

Maybe Pacific ducks are just too straight?

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'Draw Mohammed' call prompts Pakistan Facebook ban

Rob Findlay

Sunni / Shia

"Islamic teaching typically forbids depictions of its prophet." Actually Shias are more relaxed about this, and Shia art sometimes depicts the prophet. Sunnis mostly don't, though, except for some very old pictures. So it isn't really an Islamic thing as such, more a Sunni thing.

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New DNA rules may still breach human rights

Rob Findlay
FAIL

Fingers too

The ECHR ruling covered, er, finger fingerprints as well as DNA fingerprints. Why do reporters so seldom mention this? It's probably more significant than the DNA story.

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Collar the lot of us! The biometric delusion

Rob Findlay

@Julian I-Do-Stuff

But the main point is about the false match and false reject rate, not the processing method. That still stands, huh?

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Home Office to keep innocent DNA samples

Rob Findlay
Black Helicopters

Fingerprints too

It's not just about DNA, dear Reg, the S & Marper vs UK case covered fingerprints as well (see para 125 of http://www.bailii.org/eu/cases/ECHR/2008/1581.html).

At a time when the government is using any excuse to get all our fingerprints on file, how come the DNA profiles are the main story?

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Blunkett and ex-CPS chief turn on Home Office

Rob Findlay
Thumb Up

@Chris Williams

Ah yes. You have indeed, and I am sorry I doubted the esteemed Reg!

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Rob Findlay

@Aimee

Aimee - Think about how you access your bank account. You can already do banking transactions without your bank card (in your branch, on the phone, or on the internet).

In exactly the same way you will be able to transact with the Identity Database without using your ID Card. You'll have a PIN number and password, and for face-to-face transactions you could use your fingerprints. This means that, even if you have no card, you can say who you claim to be and then provide evidence. When a physical document is required, then other documents such as your passport will be accepted instead of an ID Card.

(A big difference between the identity scheme and your bank, though, is that if your bank card number is abused then the bank cancels it immediately and issues you with a new one. If your national identity number or copies of your fingerprints start being abused by criminals, how will you repair your identity? Soon, somebody may be about to find out that it isn't easy.)

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Rob Findlay
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Re: Point missed

Hi Chris - Well, feeling like an idiot I re-read the piece. But I must admit, I didn't see the part where you "spotted that". Am I suffering from reading difficulties today, or did the part you're referring to not make the final edition?

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Rob Findlay
Unhappy

Point missed

You have missed the point completely.

Registering on the Identity Database is going to be a condition of getting a passport. So if passports become compulsory, then registering on the Identity Database becomes compulsory. And the National Identity Scheme is accelerated, not stopped.

Forget about the ID Card itself. The Home Office don't give a monkeys whether you get an ID Card or not. All they care about is that you register on the database. Then they can link every strand of your life together with one unique number, and track you every time you are checked against the register (card or no card).

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We need cheap, abundant energy. Here's how

Rob Findlay

Numbers are the key

Anybody who is both numerate, and interested in where energy might come from without fossil fuels, will find this book interesting:

www.withouthotair.com

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Net Suicide Bill would breathe life into government censorship

Rob Findlay
Black Helicopters

Hadrian's firewall

No censorship of UK internet? Are the rumours of Home Office blacklists on Cleanfeed baseless then?

http://www.nowpublic.com/politics/uk-internet-censorship

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The robot at the border: UK bets big on face scanning

Rob Findlay
Go

Machines: once fooled, always fooled

Another security vulnerability is that your criminal can practice spoofing the machine at leisure, in the comfort of their own home (assuming they can get hold of some similar-enough software). Once they've mastered the appropriate gurn, they can come and go across Britain's eBorders as often as they please, confident of always being able to spoof the robot border guard. Human immigration officers don't suffer from this problem; they're always capable of making exceptions when something looks odd.

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Running queries on the HMRC database fiasco

Rob Findlay

The ID Card database would be much worse

Losing the ID Card database would be even worse than you describe. No need to reverse engineer the fingerprint codes - just look for any that are close-enough to your own. Large scale trials of the US-VISIT IDENT system found about a 0.1% false match rate, so in a database of 40 million adults a typical crook should find around 40,000 people to rip off at leisure (complete with names, addresses, passport numbers and all).

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Google Maps aids terrorists, NY lawmaker warns

Rob Findlay

Anything else terrorists might find handy?

And in other news, a lawmaker has expressed concern that cars might be useful to terrorists. "These new-fangled inventions could be a grave threat in the wrong hands" he said, pulling on his galoshes.

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