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* Posts by Steven Roper

1363 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Apple files patent for camera lens controlled by 'artificial muscle'

Steven Roper
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Jobs, Wozniak and Cook, Attorneys at Law

It is, of course, impossible to know whether this artificial-muscle focusing scheme will ever make it into an Apple iPhone or iPad

It won't. It's simply so that if someone actually produces something similar they can stifle that innovation and stamp out competition which is what their business model is founded on.

Bring it, fanbois. My post vote ratio needs balancing anyway.

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Code Spaces goes titsup FOREVER after attacker NUKES its Amazon-hosted data

Steven Roper
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@Jan 0

He might be Australian. We use "c*nt" colloquially, the same way Brits use "bastard" and Americans use "asshole", and it isn't intended to be misogynistic.

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YouTube will nuke indie music videos in DAYS, says Google exec

Steven Roper
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Fine

Dailymotion. Vimeo. Flickr. Metacafe. Veoh. Imeem.

This is your big chance, fellas. Even good old MySpace has an opportunity for a renaissance here.

YouTube will become socially declassé if it starts carrying on like this. In an age where everyone is trying to be individual and different, flocking like sheep to YouTube will soon become seen as simply following the flock, if you see my meaning. Especially once word spreads about how only mainstream corporate trash is allowed on there.

Yes, we may well be Google's "products". However, unlike traditional boxed products, these "products" can jump off the shelves and walk away. Take note, you greedy bastards.

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Internet of Things fridges? Pfft. So how does my milk carton know when it's empty?

Steven Roper
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Re: Electronic Nose

Or even worse, you discover it's formed an enlightened civilisation and started demanding political representation and civil liberties. I've had some growths in my fridge that have evolved to the point of attaining telepathic Gestalt superconsciousness...

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Steven Roper
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Re: Devil's advocate says...

"And assuming you don't put empty packages/containers back in"

And you show me one bachelor's fridge that doesn't have at least two or three empty milk cartons, ketchup bottles, jam jars, butter tubs, or what-have-you...

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'I'm for free speech!' brave Boris bellows, bewildered by 'right to be forgotten' bluster

Steven Roper
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Big Brother

Re: Maybe he was thinking of

Damnatio memoriae ?

Or, as Orwell more succinctly put it, unperson.

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REALLY? Can 10 per cent of Aussie jobs be threatened by pirates?

Steven Roper
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Re: the pollies will

"A few have been known to think."

Such as Nick Xenophon. I'll pop a short letter off to him on the subject. He's been supportive before when I've contacted him, such as with the Conroy net censorship controversy, so I'll see what he has to say about this little piece of bullshit.

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Splash! Three times as much water as ALL of Earth's oceans found TRAPPED underground

Steven Roper
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@unwarranted triumphalism

Nice strawman, and one typical of religious apologists.

It has nothing to do with feeling or being "superior", and everything to do with me deciding how I live my life, including my right to drink alcohol, eat ham and bacon, watch pornography and whatever else in my own home without self-righteous, sanctimonious bastards like you reaching into my life and telling me how I must live simply because some book written by a bunch of power-crazed desert goatherds 2000 years ago says I must.

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Steven Roper
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Religious people need to be dug at, as long as their fairy-tale mythologies continue to be used as an excuse to dictate what everyone else is and is not allowed to watch, read, listen to, eat, drink, learn, teach, say or wear.

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Supermodel Lily Cole: 'I got a little bit upset by that Register article'

Steven Roper
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Re: BTFO yet again

"I #wish that #people wouldn't #hashtag every #other #fucking #word when they #post #comments on these #fucking #things..."

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IoT cup claims 'instant' identification of what's in it

Steven Roper
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Another Frank Herbert prophecy comes to pass

"we developed a sensor that could instantly analyse the nutritional content of what’s inside a beverage … on a molecular level"

Can anyone spell poison snooper?

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US allows commercial use of sharper satellite snaps

Steven Roper
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I get where you're coming from, Trevor, and believe me I do know how horrible people are. So horrible that I've even refused to have children because I despise the human race that much.

Those who are in power are exactly the ones who shouldn't be (I think Douglas Adams put that most succinctly) since they got there by being greedy, unscrupulous, manipulative, sociopathic, all the traits that make human beings so horrible. So by restricting the tools of power, such as surveillance, to those people we are effectively handing our world over to vicious sociopaths anyway.

Achieving a balanced society has always been humanity's greatest bugaboo ever since we figured out how to throw rocks at each other. History has shown time and again, right up to the present day, that technology that enables one man to gain power over another always results in degeneration to an oppressive, brutal society ruled by Machiavellian overlords. Our world is going that way right now. So how do we avoid where this is all inevitably going?

While I see your point about psychos, bitter exes and moral crusaders going on rampages against you or whoever, and believe me as an MRA I've encountered first-hand the sheer malice and hatred of the more radical feminists in our world as well, I can't see any other way of achieving the social balance of power our world really needs.

I'd rather there was no surveillance technology at all, and we could all go about our lives knowing that our every move is not being tracked and monitored. But unfortunately the genie is out of the bottle. We can't put it back in. All we can hope to do is to implement some means of holding those who hold the reins to account. I don't trust our rulers; few of us do. We all know that their objective is to enslave and dominate and control and get as much as they can while giving as little as possible.

So like you, yes, such an open "level" world scares the hell out of me too. But a world in which only those who have already seized power by any means retain sole control of the means to hold onto it, scares me even more.

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Steven Roper
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Very well put, Trevor, and I couldn't agree more. For a long time now, I myself operate on the principle that if I am outside my house, I am on at least one camera somewhere. And as I've pointed out elsewhere, it's not so much the cameras as the person-recognition software (such as face-, voice- or gait- recognition) and the metadata it creates that is a far more serious threat.

However, I would feel a lot more comfortable knowing that such technology is accessible to all rather than a privileged few who will inevitably abuse it. I'd feel a lot happier if every CCTV camera was a webcam instead of just a police camera, for example.

I know this sounds at odds with my previous statement, but bear with me here. If the technology is accessible to all, it levels the playing field. Corrupt police would not be able to "mysteriously lose" CCTV footage that shows them in compromising situations. Stalkers and sociopaths would themselves become equally subject to being tracked and monitored. The long-term recording of all this information means that if anyone takes me to court for something, or tries to otherwise harm or ruin my life, I could also backtrack them and discover their motives in response. Public access to this level of surveillance would enforce transparency and accountability for everyone, high and low alike.

This is why such openness and accessibility would be absolute anathema to those in power. The power and allure of surveillance is its ability to watch without being watched in turn. I suspect that a lot of privacy legislation and privacy issues are being publicised and driven by these people precisely to prevent the equalisation of power that public access to surveillance technology represents. The elites want themselves and their police cronies to be able to monitor everyone but not to be monitored themselves.

So if we are to have mass surveillance and it is unavoidable, I'd far rather it was turned equally on everybody and accessible to anybody, instead of just a few privileged powermongers who will inevitably use it to turn our world into a police-state hellhole.

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Satellite 'net hype ignores realpolitik

Steven Roper
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I see what they're doing there

1. Provide "free" internet to everyone on the planet.

2. Since nobody wants to pay for something that can be had for "free", all the ISPs go out of business.

3. With no ISPs the Internet as we know it dies and is replaced by the "free" Googlenet.

4. Google now has final and absolute control over what is allowed to be posted on the Googlenet by simply blocking access to whatever they don't like, and also gets to record and utilise the browsing history of every person on the planet, Chrome or no Chrome.

5. Don't be evil my fucking arse.

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Toyota catches up to William Gibson with LED hood

Steven Roper
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Attention getter

"Hey officer, I have a huge flashing glowing bonnet distracting everyone on the road! Please pull me over!"

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Queen's Speech: Computer Misuse Act to be amended, tougher sentences planned

Steven Roper
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Re: It's about time

Oh look, it's Anonymous "Burn 'em at the stake" Coward again. I told you before, imprisoning people for piracy costs more than it's worth. Burning them at the stake means you can set an example by terrorising all those evil downloaders into submission!

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Steven Roper
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Re: Burn the bodice-rippers!

"Better go through your library, make sure you don't have any novels in which the protagonist seduces anyone underage."

Oh shit - better get rid of my copy of The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant then. That Chapter 7 of Lord Foul's Bane is a real doozy...!

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Did NASA probe detect a KILLER GAMMA-RAY burst in Andromeda?

Steven Roper
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I'm not an astrophysicist, so there's probably something I'm missing, but... Wouldn't the Earth's magnetic field and Van Allen belts shield us from these things? You know, the way they shield us from that bloody great thermonuclear bomb that's blazing its guts out 150 million kilometres away?

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Boffins: How to generate crypto-keys using a smartphone – and quantum physics

Steven Roper
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Re: Just wondering

Good idea. I might experiment with that checksumming photos technique and see what I come up with.

I'll hold your post up as prior art should some innovation-stifling patent troll try to patent this. Would you be generous enough to put your idea into the public domain for all to use? If I invent something worth marketing I'll slip some of the proceeds your way!

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For your next privacy panic, look no further than vending machines

Steven Roper
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As always, it's not the cameras that are the problem - if you're in a public place, you can reasonably expect to be photographed by CCTV and people with cameras alike. There's no privacy invasion there, because a picture is just a picture.

The problem is the face-recognition software attached to the cameras. That's where the privacy violation comes in, because it goes from being just a picture to a direct automated means of identification. Use of this sort of software needs to become subject to strict regulation and privacy legislation, not the use of cameras alone.

Imagine if the vending machine company buys access to Facebook's face-recognition database and uses it to identify people walking past the machine. I can picture some vending machine yelling out, "Hey, Steve! Steve Roper! Come here, I've got some awesome snacks for you!"

Now in my book that is a violation of my privacy, regardless of my being in a public place. A person who knows me and recognises me and calls my name is one thing, but a machine doing it to all and sundry via a database whose information was submitted under conditions of privacy is something else entirely.

This shit needs to be nipped in the bud, and it needs to be nipped in the bud NOW.

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'Hello? Hello? Yes, I'm calling you on my WEB BROWSER'

Steven Roper
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Re: it sux if...

<sarcasm>Well, generally to get any kind of internet access you do in fact need to sign up with an ISP, aka Internet Service Provider. I'm assuming you already have an account with an ISP or similar carrier in order to be able to post your comment. </sarcasm>

Given that the protocol behind this is W3C approved, I'd say it's pretty much odds-on that it'll work directly over your internet connection. You'll likely need the IP address of the person you wish to call, and there will be a protocol to specify when linking it (similar to the tel: protocol I'd say), but that would be the extent of it. I can't see why you'd need any additional "services" to implement that, any more than you'd need an additional service to use IRC or FTP.

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Steven Roper
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"Does the word BLOAT mean anything to you Mozilla?"

Exactly this. The main reason I started using Firefox in the first place was because of its speed, efficiency and simplicity. And I don't get why they think having this feature as a plugin or addon is such a bad thing.

The whole reason the plugin/addon system was originally implemented was so that users could customise the browser with the features they wanted. That way, it only took up the minimum system resources required to implement the desired feature set, and gave the user freedom of choice.

Mozilla have lost their way in this regard: the ability to make video calls is not something every user is going to want and embedding it into the browser instead of releasing it as an addon simply adds bloat, slows it down even more, reduces user choice and undermines the entire philosophy of simplicity and customisability that made Firefox great in the first place.

If it's that they're concerned that by making it an "extra" to be downloaded that people won't take it up, why don't they simply include it as an addon with an update and with new installs of the browser? That way, those who don't want it can uncheck it or uninstall it, and Mozilla still gets the "wider take-up because it's opt-out not opt-in" effect.

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Clingy fondleslab owners TORPEDO industry forecasts

Steven Roper
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These people are delusional

Millions are out of work because all their jobs have been outsourced to third-world countries, wages and salaries have been pared back to the bone while prices have increased to the point where most people are now working 60+ hour weeks just to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies, and these idiots wonder why people can't afford to keep buying new shinies? Where the hell do they think the money's coming from?

I'm reminded of an interview I once saw with some celebrity back in the Y2K millennium celebrations. A luxury boat was to sail down Sydney Harbour at midnight and the starting price for entry-level tickets was $90,000. "Oh, it's not exclusive," the celebrity said, "it's open to the public, anyone can buy a ticket and come on board with us." Yes, this is how delusional these people are; they think that just because that kind of money is pocket change to them that anyone can just pull 90 grand out of their arse.

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Snowden never blew a whistle, US spy boss claims

Steven Roper
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Re: Hmmm on balance

It's certainly credible that Snowden may be having paranoid delusions or be on an ego trip, but intelligence agencies have been discrediting opponents and crying wolf for so long that it's impossible to believe anything they say any more.

Just like the old Aesop's fable I learned as a small child, when you lie all the time as a matter of course, eventually nobody will ever believe a word you say. The three-letter agencies have dug their own graves on this one.

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Google TOO WHITE and MALE, says HR boss, looking in mirror

Steven Roper
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Re: Feminists: they are idiots and to blame!

@Hollerith: Thank you for proving my point about feminists being in denial about human nature. You fail to take into account that even though feminism and its related critical-theory forms of political correctness have been in force in schools now for over 30 years, boys still choose for the most part to play with cars and girls still choose for the most part to play with dolls. Three generations of children now have had the principles of feminism dinned into them from day dot and it hasn't affected their play choices. That's because ten thousand generations of evolution have predisposed each gender for the roles it has been adapted by its environment to carry out. That is as incontestable a fact as the law of gravity, no matter how sanctimoniously you and your kind rant and rave and jump up and down about it.

As to my quoting memes, proving an argument and illustrating a point are two different literary techniques with different purposes. Unlike you, I am not constrained to expressing myself solely within the dictates of critical theory.

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Steven Roper
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"Nothing if you are living in a society where the majority of the whole population is male and white."

Let me fix that for you: "Nothing if you are living in a society in which the majority of people choosing to enter the relevant professions is male and white."

By your logic, there should be equal numbers of men and women in every profession since you're assuming that the whole population is equally distributed across all professions. There's a reason why you see more male programmers and more female child-care workers; that is, that despite the most intense insistence of feminists, gender does in fact predispose people towards different walks of life. Men and women think differently as a result of their gender. Nothing, not the most fanatical political correctness nor the most vehement ranting about stereotypes, can alter this simple psychological fact. That's not to say that women can't be programmers or men can't be childcare workers. It's simply that the majority of them freely choose not to be.

When 50% of people choosing and completing IT courses at universities are female (without imposing artificial gender quotas and turning men away simply because they are men), only then do you have the right to whine if the employment figures don't match the graduation rates.

Your comment reminds me of one of those meme images I saw recently, which had a picture of a stereotypically feminist-looking woman and was captioned something like this:

Top: "Complains that only 21% of programmers are female" - Bottom: "Majored in gender studies and English literature"

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The iPhone of the future will know you BY YOUR EARS

Steven Roper
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Exactly what I was going to say.

"Ipod has detected multiple listeners. Tap here to authorize additional payment of 1 dollar per song within 10 seconds otherwise the second earphone will be muted."

Corporate greed knows no bounds.

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Steven Roper
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Re: I am not in the habit.......

"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." - H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

An overbearing obsession with hygiene and eliminating germs leads to a weakened immune system...

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High court finds Newzbin's 'ops' man liable for copyright infringement

Steven Roper
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Re: A slap on the wrist

"...and 30 years in prison, then he might conclude piracy wasn't such a good idea."

Why not just save the cost of imprisonment and publicly burn him at the stake? Then you can use him to set an example to all those other vile, thieving pirating scum. Would that satisfy your thirst for vengeance justice sufficiently?

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iiNet trial killed ISP-content talks, says Brandis

Steven Roper
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Or allowing bastards like Murdoch to monopolise certain popular TV shows so he can force those who want to watch them to pay for top-dollar premium channels that cost the earth just so they can watch one show.

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Swiping your card at local greengrocers? Miscreants will swipe YOU in a minute

Steven Roper
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There's one near me, and he's doing very well despite there being a shopping centre with both a Coles and a Foodland within a kilometre of him. Although I do most of my weekly shopping online, I get my fruit and veg from the greengrocer because 1) he's often cheaper than the supermarkets, 2) his produce is a lot fresher and better quality than the supermarkets, 3) if I buy fresh produce online I usually get given whatever crap the onsite shoppers reject, so 4) I can pick out the particular fruit and veggies I want at the greengrocer.

Anyone who shops online and has ordered fruit and veg this way will soon discover that it's not a good way to get fresh produce. Which is why the greengrocer near me is always full of customers.

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Linux app lets you control fruit fly brains - with frikkin' LASERS

Steven Roper
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How long before this gets used on people?

The cops would certainly love it; just point a laser at you and you walk calmly right into a prison cell.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Re science is fun!

"laser targeted cat craze"

Don't overdo that, the little bastards do learn. I did it once too often with my two cats, to the point where they now know exactly what a laser dot is and that it's simply not worth the bother of chasing it. They don't even follow it or look at it any more when I wave it around, instead they simply look at the laser pointer in my hand and then at me, with an expression that clearly says, "What the fuck do you take me for?"

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The Internet of Things helps insurance firms reward, punish

Steven Roper
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I hope you're right Rik, I really do, and that your kids can find a way to sort the future out for everyone.

I do have other valid reasons for my choices, although this isn't the place to go into them. But suffice to say, the line between despair and realism is a very fine one, as is the line between cowardice and pragmatism.

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Steven Roper
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Re: I am so glad

I wish I was older, and I'm 47. Which means that 1) If I live as long as my grandparents did (all but one made it into their 90s) I have another 40ish years of life on this shithole planet to look forward to, and 2) What this world is going to be like in 20 years doesn't bear thinking about, let alone 40. I shudder to think of the soul-raping "innovations" people like O'Reilly and Smith in this article are going to foist on us in that time.

And even then I probably won't be allowed to die peacefully. Some horror like that depicted in this Youtube video will probably be in place by then and my life and my very memories will be hijacked to serve the greed or our corporate masters.

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Steven Roper
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"What a miserable life our children are going to have."

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why I've refused to have kids. I saw this sort of thing coming years ago, so it comes as no surprise. I've copped all sorts of flack throughout my life from family, friends and internet contacts alike for this decision, so when I see someone else say something like that I feel that it vindicates my choice.

The future is a horror. I'm just glad no progeny of mine will be slaves to it.

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Windows XP fixes flaws for free if you turn PCs into CASH REGISTERS

Steven Roper
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@David 138 Re: Even better idea

"All of the XP machines need replacing anyway."

Do they still work OK? Are they still doing the job your company bought them to do? If they're not failing or packing up, and they can still handle the workload, then why spend money changing them for the mere sake of change?

I assume your company isn't in business to make Microsoft money, your company would be in business to make your shareholders money. That means maximising profit and minimising cost. Throwing money away on replacing perfectly serviceable equipment is not minimising cost.

Of course Microsoft are in business to make money for their shareholders too, but the difference is your company likely isn't implementing a dishonest and deliberately flawed business model with an artificially-imposed end-of-life to drive business. If your company is like mine, it probably implements the more ethical business model of providing service contracts to maintain its existing product base for as long as customers want the products.

Now Microsoft could implement a service contract model - for example, where if you want updates you pay them a fiver a month per machine and they continue maintaining your OS with no other requirements. If they did this for everyone who wanted to stay on XP they could make plenty just doing that. If you don't pay then you don't get updates (but your system should continue working as is without impedance) and you take your risks on the chin.

But instead of offering honest service contracts, what Microsoft have got going is a "pay us something like 200 grand a year plus you have to prove you have a migration process in place" policy. That's tantamount to them reaching into your business and telling you how to run it, and charging you a bloody house's worth per year for the privilege to punish you for it. In my book, that's unethical and immoral, and it damn well should be illegal.

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128-bit crypto scheme allegedly cracked in two hours

Steven Roper
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Joke

@BlueGreen Re: 94.6 bits

"So for gender I need more than one bit but not *all* of 2 bits' worth of encoding. So it might take 1.5 bits"

Except that in these margin times with all the gender-fluid/gender-diverse options demanded by some ("otherkin/beast male-psyche femme-presenting" etc. etc.) you now need at least 16 bits to store all the possible gender variations people come up with!

Admittedly, your two bits can at least serve for those who are genuinely gender-diverse: unknown/male/female/transgender fits perfectly.

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Steven Roper
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Re: Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Never mind laptop screens, I want a bloody desktop monitor capable of more than the bog-stock 1920 x 1080 they've been stuck at for the past decade. Even the 1920 x 1200 ones are getting hard to find and the few that still exist cost the bloody earth. Meanwhile phone and tablet screens are pointlessly increasing resolutions to levels where a scanning electron microscope is required to see a single pixel, while desktop monitors remain as nothing more than ordinary HD TV sets.

Where's my goddamn 4096 x 2560 desktop monitor!

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Samsung WRISTPHONE – for those who wanna whisper to strap-ons

Steven Roper
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...Aaaaand

waiting for Apple to start suing all these watchphone makers off the market because they patented the idea of a watchphone even though the idea has been around since Dick Tracy and they have yet to come out with one themselves. No doubt they'll claim they invented it first even though these devices have been available on drop-shipping sites and such for quite some time now.

Bring on the downvotes, fanbois.

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NOT APPY: Black cab drivers enraged by Hailo as taxi tech wars rage on

Steven Roper
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Trollface

Re: Pot/Kettle?

"I'm pretty sure calling all black cab drivers bigots is a fairly bigotted position to take."

As soon as I saw words like "racist", "sexist" and "biggot"(sic) being used seriously in that AC's rants my first thought was, "Oh, it's one of those..." and moved on to the next post.

There are many more interesting comments to read on El Reg without my wasting time poring over the inane dribblings of brainwashed hypocrites who probably majored only in gender studies and sociology, and whose politically-correct groupthink functions as a substitute for independent thought.

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Disney plans standalone Star Wars movies to go with the main trilogy

Steven Roper
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Re: Perhaps...

...Or 30-second sound bites...

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French teen fined for illegal drone flight

Steven Roper
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Re: The Nancy Chamber of Commerce and Tourism should have paid his fine ...

Why would they do that? That way they incur the cost of his fine and have to pay him for the footage.

Instead, they can now confiscate his footage as the proceeds of criminal activity, therefore he forfeits all rights to it. The government gets to use his footage for nothing, they can even charge the Nancy Chamber of Commerce for the use of it and pocket the profits themselves, AND he has to pay them for the act of obtaining it.

That's how the world works these days. The benefits of copyright and ownership of things are only for our lords and masters, not for the likes of you and me.

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Steven Roper
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What about a kite?

He could just as easily have attached his camera to a kite. and taken some photos, at least then he wouldn't have been fined. Unless flying kites is now illegal. Given the ongoing erosion of basic freedoms and simple pleasures that has characterised this century so far, it sadly wouldn't surprise me.

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Toshiba pushes out 5TB spinner for cloudy types

Steven Roper
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Re: never mind the enterprise

You won't be allowed to have them. You must store your data in "the cloud" like a good little consumer-robot, where it can be monitored and controlled for your own good, and where you can be constantly milked for money in order to keep access to it, and where your usage can be "monetized", and where it can be "revised" if it is copyrighted, too contentious or politically incorrect.

3-4 TB is the biggest you'll ever be allowed to have, and chances are those won't be available as consumer models for long. Already I've noticed that my local computer shop doesn't stock anything over 2 TB any more; if you want bigger you have to order it in - at a premium, of course. But all their new PC's now come with Windows 8 - and cloud storage by default.

You will comply. You won't be given the choice.

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Autodesk CEO: '3D printing has been way overhyped'

Steven Roper
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@Eddy Ito Re: As if...

Thanks for that Eddy, your explanation does clear it up for me. In fact, it almost seems obvious in hindsight when you think about it: "As if I could care less! (Yeah, right!)" When considered from the sarcastic context with the "As if" prepended to it, it suddenly makes sense.

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Steven Roper
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Could care less / couldn't care less

I can comprehend the logic behind most American spellings and many of their idioms, but I must say this one has me stumped.

Saying "I could care less about X" seems to completely contradict the intent of the statement. The intent is to say "I don't care about X / the amount of interest I have in X is zero." So saying you could care less implies that you actually do care to at least some extent, because there is a lesser amount of interest you could have in the topic.

Saying "I couldn't care less about X" is the logical form. It states that there is no lesser amount of interest in X you could exhibit, therefore your interest in it is zero. It doesn't contradict the intent of the statement.

Any of our American friends care to enlighten me on what the thinking is with this one?

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ET hunter: We will find SPACE ALIENS in 20 years

Steven Roper
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I've heard that before...

Funny, I seem to remember people saying this sort of thing 20 years ago.

Extraterrestrial life - almost certainly, sooner or later, although to pin it down within 20 years is a bit of a stretch. We'll be doing well to have retrieved samples from Mars in that time frame, let alone explored Europa or Titan or Enceladus or any of the other moons that also might harbour life.

Extraterrestrial intelligence - now that's a big ask. Especially if we expect that intelligence to be broadcasting radio waves. When you consider that only once in 4 billion years has Earth itself produced life capable of this, said life has only been able to broadcast radio for the past 100 years at most, and with the way technology is going, we'll have no need for powerful broadcast radio within the next 100 years. Low-powered wifi links acting as relays seems to be the way we are going in this area, and if this becomes the norm the radio shouts from Earth will soon drop to a whisper - one that is unlikely to be detectable from light-years away even with the most sensitive equipment. So the window of time in which such technology may be in widespread use is likely to be vanishingly small.

Furthermore, the environmental conditions required to produce intelligence are incredibly specific. Anyone who has seen or read Jared Diamond's excellent documentary series Guns, Germs and Steel will realise how specific the combination of geography, climate, ecology, and sociology have to be in order for advanced civilisation and technology to emerge. When you consider the specificity of those conditions, and the resulting tiny time window in the vast sweep of this planet's history, it is easy to see that while life in the universe is probably commonplace, intelligence almost certainly is not.

Even though there are potentially dozens of billions of life-bearing planets in our galaxy alone, which does improve the odds for there being intelligent civilisations at some stage of evolution, the chances are that such civilisations are spread so far apart that by the time the signals from one reach the antennae of another, the sender will have long since ceased to exist, or will have changed beyond anything the receiver might recognise as intelligence.

That's not to say we should stop searching, by any means. But we do need to face the realities of such a search, and citing time frames of 20 years, every 20 years or so, isn't being realistic about it.

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JJ Abrams and Star Wars: I've got a bad feeling about this

Steven Roper
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Re: Alien Resurrection. 3 was not too bad

"...generation of british character actors prior to all those currently appearing in GOT"

You do know that the guy who played Dr. Clemens in Alien 3 (Charles Dance) is now better known as Tywin Lannister, right?

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Hackers lay claim to exploit that defeats iPhone anti-theft tools

Steven Roper
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It would appear

that the best defence against phone thieves is to implement an actual, real self-destruct. You know, the kind made of C4 with ball-bearings and bits of broken glass and shit embedded in it.

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