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* Posts by Steven Roper

1388 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Outsourcing your own job much more common than first thought

Steven Roper
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Re: @Steven Roper

"but here in the real world a company is not a person"

Er - yes it is. Companies and corporations are regarded as persons having human rights for legal purposes. Their often unscrupulous exploitation of this fact is where many of the perceived social problems with them comes from.

As for the rest of your post, I can only say that your ideals sound rather Pharaonic to me. I may live in a weird entitlement utopia, but that sounds a lot better than the master-slave plutocracy you seem to be advocating.

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Steven Roper
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@ romanempire

Not quite - unless you explicitly state that the service must be given personally by the employee. And I've never heard of such a clause being part of a work contract.

A work contract, or to give it its proper title, a "job and person specification" is a list of tasks, and their outcomes, the incumbent is expected to accomplish. How they are accomplished is in most cases up to the person tasked with achieving that outcome. If the job includes cleaning the toilets, then my only expectation in that regard is clean toilets. If the employee then goes and finds someone to clean toilets in his behalf at a lower rate, what boots it as long as the job gets done? Of course, if the substitute hired to actually clean toilets then goes and cleans out the company safe, the employee who hired them has to bear their share of the responsibility for that.

It's like subletting a rented house. Here in Australia, the law forbids a landlord from preventing a tenant from subletting rooms in the house to other tenants. The tenant has to notify the landlord of course, but the landlord cannot stop the tenant from doing so. But if the sublet tenants then knock holes in the walls, it's the original tenant who has to foot the bill, because they're the ones who signed the contract with the landlord.

So if an employee outsources all or part of their job, as long as the company security is maintained and policies and procedures respected, then there's no problem. To punish an employee for simply finding a cheaper solution when that is what the entire company is about doing, is nothing more than sheer mean-mindedness.

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Steven Roper
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Re: ummmm

Exactly. The hypocrisy of these companies here stinks to high heaven, a perfect example of do-as-as-we-say-not-as-we-do, we-can-but-you-can't mentality. If companies can outsource, why can't employees? And I part-own a company myself. If I found one of my staff doing this, I'd commend them for their resourcefulness.

The only problem I can see in this is one of security. I'd want to see what measures the employee has taken to ensure company confidentiality; if they'd thrown open our codebase to some two-bit Chinese outfit THEN some stern words would be spoken. I'd want to see all the paperwork, contracts, quotes and so on, but if they'd addressed this satisfactorily then I'd have no problem with it.

After all, I spend a fair whack of my work time perusing and posting on El Reg. I can hardly complain if my staff want to do the same, as long the work gets done one way or another!

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Four firms pitch hi-def DRM for Flash cards

Steven Roper
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Re: the problem with DRM systems

The problem with DRM systems is that the entire concept is cryptographically flawed.

In any cryptographic scenario, you have at least three parties: the sender (usually called Alice), the intended receiver (usually called Bob), and the middleman attacker (usually called Mallory). Any given cryptographic scenario is then based on Alice encrypting a message to transmit to Bob, and Mallory tries to intercept and decrypt the message without Alice or Bob knowing.

Where DRM fails in all this is that the receiver is, ipso facto, the attacker. DRM is built entirely around this contradiction: the presumption that the receiver simultaneously should and should not be able to access the message. In this scenario, Bob and Mallory are the same person. The logical flaw in this then becomes self-evident. The customer is also the criminal.

What this amounts to is, if the message can be seen or heard, it can be copied. No amount of copy protection, no matter how sophisticated, can prevent this: what the human eye can see, a camera can photograph; what the human ear can hear, a microphone can record. If you're worried about quality, the unencrypted video data going to a screen or audio signal going to a loudspeaker can easily be captured. And once the recording is made, subsequent digital copies can be made ad infinitum. Even if you need specialised equipment to capture the video feed from within the monitor, or a tap on an audio cable, it only needs one person to make a copy, and all the DRM in the world is useless.

For this reason, DRM is snake oil, and nothing but. I'm frankly stunned at the blindness of copyright holders in not understanding this utterly simple, obvious and inescapable flaw underscoring all DRM. They've been trying for better than 30 years, and they still haven't realised that the whole concept is completely fraudulent.

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US insurer punts 'bestiality' to wide-eyed kiddies, gasp 'mums'

Steven Roper
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Stop

Re: American organisation offended by breathing

"But now show me a gay sex scene (or even a kiss) in a Hollywood film. Heaven forbid!"

Maybe not in a film per se. But try watching Game of Thrones some time. Or Spartacus.

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North Korean citizens told: Socialist haircuts are a thing... go get some

Steven Roper
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Re: Fifty years and counting...

It took the Soviet Union more than 70, as I recall.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Socialism

Socialism, communism, capitalism, democracy - they're all myths and fantasies.

The only form of government ever practiced by any human culture anywhere, throughout history, is plutocratic feudalism, backed by the Gold and Gun Rule; i.e. who has the gold owns the guns and makes the rules. Rich people have children who will grow up to inherit their rule over everyone else's children, ad infinitum.

Occasionally there's a revolution; the proles are recruited by the revolutionists with promises of a better life; they storm the houses of the rich with torches and pitchforks, then as soon as the revolution is complete the revolutionists become the new feudal lords, the proles get kicked back to the gutter where they belong, and feudalism continues unaltered.

No other form of government exists, ever has existed, or ever will exist, as long as there are human beings.

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Steven Roper
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Re: I wish! (Homer 1 - 14:07)

Grass does not grow on a busy street, nor hair on a smart man's head.

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Trekkies detect Spock's Vulcan homeworld ORBITING PLUTO

Steven Roper
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Stop

Re: Mass Effect

I read Greek mythology in my childhood, and so to me Cerberus (Kerberos) is, and will always be, the giant three-headed dog that guards the gates of the Underworld and prevents the spirits of the dead from leaving (i.e. he's there to keep the dead in, not the living out). Notably captured and brought back to Tyrins by Heracles as the last of the twelve tasks assigned to him by the cowardly prince Eurystheus. The monster dog so terrified Eurystheus that he hid, gibbering, in a brass pot for three days, until Heracles returned the creature to Hades.

Cerberus was also put to sleep by the singing of Orpheus, who was given permission by Persephone, daughter of Demeter and wife of Hades, to lead his dead lover Eurydice out of the Underworld - as long as he didn't look back to see if she was following. He did, and thus lost her forever. (A happier alternative ending has it that Orpheus died soon after of a broken heart, and he and Eurydice were then re-united in eternal bliss in the Elysian Fields.)

Anything else is just a rip off. It's as abrasive (to me) as someone hearing a Beethoven sonata and going, "Oh, that's the tune from the [insert brand name here] commercial!" Gaaack!

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Linus Torvalds in NSFW Red Hat rant

Steven Roper
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Not really

since I wouldn't hire anybody with that thin a skin.

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Climate scientists link global warming to extreme weather

Steven Roper
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A fair analysis

"In addition, global land mass is concentrated in that hemisphere, and land masses warm and cool more quickly than do oceans. "These two factors are crucial for the mechanism we detected,"..."

That's a good explanation for this effect. What's interesting is that if these two factors are the main drivers of this mechanism, then it cannot be anthropogenic, since you can hardly blame humans for the fact of landmasses being concentrated in the northern hemisphere, nor the fact that land gains and loses heat more quickly than ocean.

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Boffin shows pics of germs grown on SPOTTY STUDENTS' MOBES

Steven Roper
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H.G. Wells put it best

"By the toll of a billion deaths, man has bought his birthright of the earth, and it is his against all comers; it would still be his though the Martians were ten times as mighty as they are. For neither do men live nor die in vain."

Though those bacterial colonies may look disgusting, without them we could not live, our earth would be piled neck-deep in dead animals and plants, we'd have no immune system, and awesome foodstuffs like yoghurt and cheese would not exist!

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Ancient lost continent discovered lounging on Mauritian beach

Steven Roper
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Re: Mu and Lemuria

I've always thought that Lemuria was Zealandia, the massive V-shaped sunken continent east of Australia, of which New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji and Vanuatu are the tops of the highest mountain ranges. It's easily visible on Google Earth, or any topographic ocean-floor map of the southwest Pacific.

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It begins: Six-strikes copyright smackdown starts in US

Steven Roper
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And don't forget

you have to have The Machine That Goes 'PING!'

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Bees use 'electrical SIXTH SENSE' to nail nectar-stuffed flowers

Steven Roper
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Boffin

Re: Ironic

Wow. All I can say to you, Sanity Soapbox, is that your statements are not just wrong, they are fractally wrong, which means any effort at refutation would result in an infinite recursion of wrongness. Since a first-level refutation has already been made, I'll spare myself the infinite time required for successive ones...

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Steven Roper
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Re: Bees not as amazing as Australian face flies.

That is why I, and everyone else I know, explicitly ignore the big capital-letter warning DO NOT SPRAY DIRECTLY TOWARD EYES OR MOUTH printed on every Aerogard can. The only way to guarantee 100% coverage of every square millimetre is to close your eyes and mouth and do exactly that.

If you obey the warning and do what you're supposed to by spraying it on your hands and rubbing it on your face, then as you say, there'll be one fucking fly that finds the three square mm that you missed.

I also noticed the flies seemed particularly bad this year. At Victor Harbor last December, on top of the Bluff, we were mugged by the fucking things, even though a fair breeze was blowing that should have cleared them off. These flies seemed immune to wind, Aerogard and even the traditional Aussie salute. And the last time I'd seen so many was when I was up in the outback round Arkaroola years ago!

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Dalek designer Ray Cusick passes away aged 84

Steven Roper
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Re: Americanism.

Actually, I encountered "survived" in a similar context as a small child back in the 70s, learning about the wives of King Henry VIII: "Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived..."

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BOFH: Climb the corp ladder - and use your boss as a bullet shield

Steven Roper
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Facepalm

I've

also noticed the increasing use of "Architect" as a JD buzzword.

First we had "Manager". Everyone from the janitor up was a "manager" of some kind. Then there was "Specialist". Then "Engineer". Now we have "Architect". What's next? Doctor?

That'd be good: Toilet Cleaner -> Waste Manager -> Hygiene Specialist -> Sanitation Engineer -> Health Systems Architect -> Epidemiology Doctor...

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Bundestag holds 'unusual' hearing on German Copyright Act

Steven Roper
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Trollface

Re: re. John Lilburne

Don't bother.

John Lilburne is a known copyright troll down there with the likes of Turtle and PirateSlayer et. al. and, like them, probably an RIAA / MPAA staffer. His brain cell likely isn't capable of assimilating the concept of publicity and revenue provided by big search engines linking to content, because all it's capable of is something like, "duh, it's all mine and I don't want anyone to see it without paying, duh..."

Just ignore him. If you can be bothered wasting the few seconds it takes, downvote him if it helps you feel a bit better after being subjected to his drivel. ;)

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John Sweeney: Why Church of Scientology's gravest threat is the 'net

Steven Roper
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Re: Yes. In a civilised society ;-)

As opposed to a politically correct one...

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Steven Roper
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Joke

@Eurypides Pants

Drop-bears would have no need of an autogyro to clean out Psychlos. Or anything else for that matter, since I'm sure they could depopulate the galaxy with just their claws and teeth...

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Microsoft legal beagle calls for patent reform cooperation

Steven Roper
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Linux

This is interesting

" Microsoft plans to make information explaining exactly which patents it owns available to anyone on the web by April 1, 2013."

Does that include the still-undisclosed 240-odd patents MS has been threatening and blackmailing the Linux community with for the past few years?

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Rid yourself of Adobe: New Firefox 19.0 gets JAVASCRIPT PDF viewer

Steven Roper
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Re: @AC 04:40 @Lusty Mixed blessing

Actually I do understand technology, better than you might think.

"Locking" electronics documents from being changed is simply not reliable or trustworthy, not now, not ever. There's not a DRM schema ever invented that hasn't been cracked. Ever heard the adage "What man can make, man can break?" There's no such thing as "uncrackable", and that means any electronic document can be untraceably altered, no matter how secure the DRM snake-oil purveyors claim the locking technique is. I know this because way back in the 80s I was a member of a well-known cracking crew and I've seen firsthand how these guys operate.

You obviously don't live in Australia, where power outages, while not that frequent, when they do occur can run to several hours. The longest one I experienced was nearly two days, during the floods in 2005. And travel across town to recharge my laptop? That wouldn't be necessary for paper records, would it? And even in a major natural disaster, paper records can be recovered a lot more readily. Even if they are fire- or flood-damaged, there's still a chance that some of the information can be recovered - which is not true of, say, a fire-damaged thumb drive.

I will grant that PDF is not likely to lose support any time soon, but as to old records being lost because of media and format issues, even with the most industrious record-keeping, archives can be forgotten until it's too late. Things turn up in basements and attics that were thought lost years ago and which could answer many unanswered questions. Yes, in most cases people will transfer data to new formats as they become available, but only if they know or remember that it's there. You know, PEBKAC - the human factor!

I'm not saying electronic storage is inferior to paper, or that every single thing should be printed out. I'm simply saying that both have their place and their uses.

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Steven Roper
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@AC 04:40 Re: @Lusty Mixed blessing

I'm not just being contrary here. Lusty didn't mention anything about a paperless office and neither did I, nor did I state or insinuate that he had. As for documents specifically being "from the internet", how does that invalidate my argument? My first point in particular has validity here, since documents on a website can and do change frequently, so printing one out as it was on such-and-such a date is prima facie proof that this was what the document stated on that date. This is especially true of things like ToS and EULA documents where a print copy made before an online change could make or break a court case.

Lusty stated that he could think of only two reasons for printing a document, from the internet or otherwise. I added three more reasons to explain why people print out documents. So no, I didn't just feel like disagreeing. I simply articulated the arguments that were most likely to be behind the downvotes he got (none of which are mine, BTW.)

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Steven Roper
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@Lusty Re: Mixed blessing

I can give you three very good reasons for printing a document that you haven't mentioned:

One, a print copy, once made, cannot be modified or altered. The problem with electronic documents is that they can be readily altered and the change erased to suit someone's agenda - for example, to facilitate corruption, fraud or theft, or to rewrite history. This is why many companies (including ours) still maintain filing cabinets with paper records of all meeting minutes, quotes, invoices, and transactions.

Two, a paper record is human-readable without requiring any machine or power to display it. In the event of a disaster, or even a protracted power outage, paper records can be retrieved, read and acted on even if there's no power for recharging phone or tablet batteries, or running PCs.

Three, a paper record does not rely on document or media formats that may quickly become obsolete or unreadable. Many records have been lost because they were stored on things like 8" floppy disks, which you can no longer obtain drives for, or in cryptic 70s and 80s file formats that modern spreadsheets and word processors cannot read.

A paper record has a permanence that cannot be contested in the way an electronic document can. This is why law courts, for one thing, want everything on paper. If, in a trial, you were to try to hand up a tablet with a Word doc on it, the judge would throw it at you. They want solid paper records than can be filed, retained, and retrieved without question or difficulty.

In the end, it's not about "not understanding technology." It's about understanding the limitations of technology and using it in its place, just as we need to understand that paper copy also has its place and purpose, and for the reasons posited above, will continue to do so for a long time to come.

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Amazon ditches 'neo-Nazi' security firm over alleged harassment of workers

Steven Roper
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Re: There's something

The media outlet that made the documentary may very well have gathered evidence. But media bias is a well-known phenomenon; in fact it's the primary driver of the witch-hunt mentality I'm concerned about. Selective evidence gathering is an obvious part of this process. What if you were in that business's position; who would you trust more - a team of police investigators out to uphold the law, or a two-bit media outlet out to make a quick sensationalist buck?

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Steven Roper
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Stop

There's something

a bit "witch-hunty" about all this. The first line in the article is the trigger: that this security company was "accused" of habouring neo-Nazi sympathies being the reason for contract termination is actually a cause for concern. Was a proper, impartial investigation conducted to establish these claims? All we have to go on are some claims by workers and a "documentary" by a local media outlet - and this was enough to justify terminating a contract and publicly smearing someone's business?

Like "paedophile" and "terrorist", "neo-Nazi" seems to have become a common witch-hunt attack - the mere accusation is enough to ruin you, with or without proof or evidence. This sort of thing really does need to be watched very carefully, not only because of the travesty of justice that it entails, but also because it can easily undermine, by turning them into "witch-hunt victims", efforts to identify and bring real paedophiles, terrorists and neo-Nazis to justice.

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Microsoft: Office 2013 license is for just one PC, FOREVER

Steven Roper
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Re: Götterdämmerung

My thoughts exactly. This behaviour is symptomatic of a company that has finally woken up to the fact that its old business model has failed and is panicking over its increasing irrelevancy, hence the push to rentism to try to secure a revenue stream. And as with all such situations, everything they do merely fans the flames of their own demise, as more and more customers realise they are being shafted and start looking for alternatives.

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Python-lovers sling 'death threats' at UK ISP in trademark row

Steven Roper
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Re: sad all around

The complete breakdown in civility is a direct result of anger and rage at the insatiable greed behind the massive virtual land grab you refer to. The two are related; civility fails when greed prevails.

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The cheap 3D craft pen that scribbles over 3D printing hype

Steven Roper
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Except that

any car you can draw with that pen is most likely going to look like something out of The Flintstones...

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Steven Roper
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Joke

Printer to pen ratio?

You've got to be fucking kidding me. Several pens per printer? Not a chance in my place, home or office. Pens disappear within minutes, sometimes seconds of discovery or purchase, every time. What I have is an effectively infinite printer:pen ratio, because I have two printers and zero, count them, zero pens. Printers at least are too big to disappear into pockets, handbags or microscopic invisible black holes!

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AMD: Star Trek holodecks within reach

Steven Roper
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Pint

Me? Worldbuilding, much more so than sex. Sex only has so much appeal, after all. Even if it's with a generated ideal of your perfect partner, what happens when you've blown your load for the tenth time in a day and your hormones are past satiated? For me, worldbuilding would be far more satisfying use of such a technology.

OTOH, I am 46 and maybe I'm just getting on a bit! ;)

Beer, because like sex it's socially expected that there's no such thing as too much of it...

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Steven Roper
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Holodecks aren't just about processing power

Sure, we might be able to recreate the visuals and audio within a decade or so, but that's a long way from what the ST:NG holodecks were depicted as being capable of. Tactile and olfactory simulation being the biggest challenges here; how to simulate the roughness and solidity of a rock, or the furriness of a cat, or the softness of a comfy armchair? Then there's smell and taste, which are notoriously difficult to replicate, let alone simulate.

I can see "360-degree viewing rooms" emerging within the next 10 or so years: I imagine a cuboidal room, perhaps the size of a toilet cubicle, whose walls and ceiling consist entirely of hi-res monitors to create the effect of you being inside a "glass box" within a virtual environment. For real authenticity these monitors would need to be capable of parallactic 3D (not the simple stereoscopic pseudo-3D of today's TVs) so if you move your head to see around a nearby tree, for example, what's behind the tree comes into view. And that technology is quite a long way off yet, as it requires in-situ 3D positional mapping of every object in the scene, although the computational power discussed in the article certainly makes running this kind of display feasible.

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Google misses privacy-policy deadline, incurs EU wrath

Steven Roper
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Re: Now we come to it

"I suggest you go and get popcorn, this will be interesting to watch."

Agreed. Which was why I asked for a large bucket of hot buttered and a Coke. I'm looking forward to seeing the fallout from this!

BTW I'm 46. Is that younger than you? You never know on these forums. ;)

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Steven Roper
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Go

Now we come to it

What's "repressive action"?

Are the collective goverments of the EU going to cut off public access to Google, YouTube, ReCaptcha and half the internet which Google controls? Can't wait to see the shitstorm that's going to result from that. Or are they just going to fine Google huge amounts of money, utlimately leading Google itself to cut off European public access to its own sites (resulting in the same shitstorm).

Either way, Google wins. Because so many people are so dependent on its services that it's become indispensable. But if Google wins, that means it can thumb its nose at laws and governments alike, and that is not a good thing. Forced nationalisation, anyone?

So may we live in interesting times. I'll have a large bucket of hot buttered and a Coke, please. This is going to be good!

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Higgs data shows alternate reality will SWALLOW UNIVERSE

Steven Roper
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Re: Spider Robinson covered this a few years ago

James Blish also examined this "bubble universe" topic in 1959 with his Cities In Flight saga. In the final book, A Clash of Cymbals, he describes a collision between two universes (this one of matter and another of antimatter, since the Higgs wasn't known about back then) and how this entire universe would be engulfed as a result.

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Indian government censors own web site after court order

Steven Roper
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Facepalm

"organisations full of bribe-seeking corrupt people where even at the top they have a track record of being caught red handed and being jailed"

I hope this university has some really solid proof to back up that statement. Otherwise that has to be the most spectacular example of pots, kettles and the absence of colour I've ever seen!

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Baby-boulder bowling burglar breaks Boulder Apple Store's $100k glass door

Steven Roper
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Gimp

$100k for a glass door?

What the fuck is it made of - Waterford Crystal?

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Iceland thinks long and hard over extreme smut web ban law

Steven Roper
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Re: About this proposed ban

If you have radical feminists in your government you need to vote them out now, especially the male ones. During my nearly two decades of egalitarian* activism, I've noticed that the vast majority of male feminists I've encountered, are invariably the most radical self-righteous hypocritical bigots this side of the Taliban. And this Ögmundur Jónasson fits the profile perfectly.

Ironically, most female feminists I've encountered, even those who are lesbians, are actually quite reasonable in comparison. After all, their agenda is to get a fair go for their own sex, not to disenfranchise men, which I've never had a problem with. It's the anti-male demonisation and disenfranchisement, most of which is driven by male feminists with a small smattering of hard-core female man-haters, which I oppose with such vehemence. And this anti-porn bill, such as you describe, is a typical modus operandi of such people.

So the old stereotype (and oft-used strawman) of the butch lesbian feminist man-basher is exactly that: a stereotype. It's the male feminists you have to watch out for. Warn your friends and get that bugger out of office come the next election, if you value your people's freedom and dignity at all.

* Egalitarian means advocacy of equal rights, with no preferential treatment, for all people regardless of gender, race or whatever. Some feminists (again mostly male ones) try to make the weasel claim that feminism is about equal rights for all, but that is a deception intended to validate their misandrist worldview. Feminism is, and has always been, about female rights in particular; that is why it is called feminism. Treat with suspicion anyone who makes this claim - and I'll give better than ten-to-one odds it's a male making it.

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Wikipedia's Gibraltar 'moratorium' - how's it going?

Steven Roper
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Wikipedia has its uses, with caveats

As long as the subject you are researching isn't politically charged (e.g. climate change, World War II or the Kennedy assassination) it is usually fairly accurate. In particular its articles on politically neutral subjects like mathematics or physics are a good starting point if all you need is a working understanding of the topic.

For example, the Wikipedia article on Mersenne primes explains the concept quite effectively (that is, that a Mersenne prime is a prime number one less than a power of two) without any political overhead or agenda. There is no dispute about what these numbers are or are not, just the simple fact of their existence and how they are calculated. For citation purposes of course you would look up the referenced articles at the bottom of the page for more authoritative discussion of the subject.

The danger comes when an article carries a political agenda. A good example, discussed on your findingdulcinea.com link above, is climate change. (TL;DR - A UK scientist, William Connolley, gained Admin authority on Wikipedia and used it to push a pro-climate change agenda while banning opposing contributors) In these cases, of course the references at the bottom will also all be in favour of the agenda in question by virtue of their being selected to support the article. This makes it very difficult to even locate opposing views from the references.

So as in all things, use your better judgement. If your topic of research is even slightly politically charged, don't go near Wikipedia at all. Use a variety of search engines (not just Google) and give equal attention to points made for and against. But for purely scientific or mathematical research where no political agenda is involved, Wikipedia makes as good a starting point as anywhere.

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Russian boffins race to meteorite crash lake as shard prices go sky-high

Steven Roper
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Where have I heard this sort of thing before?

"Next morning, a crowd gathered on the common, hypnotised by the unscrewing of the cylinder. Two feet of shining screw projected, when suddenly, the lid fell off..."

I need to catch a cold, and fast. Those bloboid bastards aren't injecting my blood into their own veins without a fight!

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'Bah, this Apple Shop is full of APPLES'

Steven Roper
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Go

Re: The fact that even New York got served..

You're not alone, friend. You should do what I do with my company.

When I'm running up a quote for a customer, if during the interview I see them pull out an iPhone or iPad, I add a small percentage to the quote (it varies depending on how devoted to the Church of St. Jobs the customer appears to be) as an "Apple tax". After all, I figure that if they've got money to splurge on Apple crap, they've got money to splurge on our services!

I've made my company quite a few grand extra by doing this. My partners know I do it too, but since they hate Apple almost as much as I do, there is no objection, as long as I disguise the increase amongst other itemisations on the quote sheet!

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Steven Roper
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Facepalm

@Saoir

Thank you for proving the exact point the article (and several commentards) were making about the behaviour of Apple fanbois. You're a textbook case.

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Australia cuts Microsoft bill by AU$100m

Steven Roper
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Coat

John Sheridan, eh?

Must be a relative (ancestor?) of one Capt. John Sheridan, who also proved his acumen for financial finagling by working the books so that EarthGov ended up paying rent to itself for his command staff's use of the officers' quarters on Babylon 5...

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The universe speaks: 'It's time to get off your rock!'

Steven Roper
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@JDX

"We're not dinosaurs, reliant on a certain climate or delicate environment..."

I recommend you look up a book/documentary called "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond. He's an anthropologist who spent 30 years researching why Eurasian civilisations dominated the world over other cultures, and his thesis states that geography - specifically the temperate conditions that allowed certain species of food plants (wheat, oats, barley) and animals (goats, cattle, horses) to exist - is what gave the Eurasian cultures their edge, by freeing them from the exigencies of survival and enabling specialisation. When they attempted to colonise the tropics, their traditional survival methods failed because the plants and animals upon which our civilisation depends were not adapted to survive there.

So we do need surprisingly specific conditions to survive, or at least to maintain the structures of advanced civilisation. Without our temperate-zone climate, wheat and other staple foods don't grow, and without them civilisation as we know it cannot stand.

In a post-impact Earth, survival alone becomes only a thin possibility. If we look at past extinction events - the Permian-Triassic or the Cretaceous-Tertiary, for example - we see that the climate changes that resulted from them weren't measured in decades or even millennia. The lushness of the Permian gave way to the deserts of the Triassic; likewise with the verdant Cretaceous and the barren Tertiary, both of which lasted for millions of years before the Earth recovered.

In a mass-extinction event of this magnitude, large, complex lifeforms cannot survive. Only the smallest, simplest creatures can eke out an existence, and give rise to new evolved forms over time; the dinosaurs from the Permian-Triassic, and the mammals from the Cretaceous-Tertiary. The poisonous atmosphere, the centuries of global winter darkness resulting from an impact - these effects would last far longer than our civilisation has already existed and developed, and so the chances of anything much more complex than a frog surviving them are marginal at best.

So "re-colonising Earth" is simply not a viable proposition in the aftermath of such an event. Not unless we can maintain a civilisation in underground bunkers for a few million years at a stretch, until the Earth becomes inhabitable again...

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Steven Roper
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Trollface

You're slipping, Eadon!

This article is about asteroids hitting the Earth. You should have been able to work in at least one little MS diss in there somewhere!

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Steven Roper
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@Marketing Hack Re: fox awareness

"The fox doesn't see beauty or experience admiration."

How do you know that? Have you looked up any research on animal cognition? There is increasing evidence that many animal species are self-aware and capable of cognition in ways that we are only just discovering. A quick google of "animal intelligence" or "animal cognition" will turn up some very interesting articles on the subject, and if they teach us anything at all, it is that human intelligence differs from that of other animals only in the extent of our abilities to harness the natural forces and materials of our environment.

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Fashionably slate

Steven Roper
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"umbilical you can tow a lorry with"

Yes, I also remember those from my childhood back in the 70s. There was one time when my parents were shopping for a new TV, and one had a "wired remote" with a rather hefty cable - about which I recall Dad commenting that "you could moor the bloody QE2 with that thing!" And that was back then...!

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Forget wireless power for phones - Korea's doing it for BUSES

Steven Roper
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Re: Lateral thinking

The problem with your suggestion is that if we did use said "biological transport mechanism", we'd all be up to our necks in "bio-degradable waste products"!

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Steven Roper
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Big Brother

Re: One problem hopefully solved

As Mr. Orwell so rightly pointed out in 1984:

"...and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours. It was all part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week."

Of course, the real reason the power was cut off was precisely to reduce the quality of life; part of the underlying principle that power is asserted by making people suffer.

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