* Posts by Steven Roper

1736 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Boffins: There's a ninth planet out there – now we just need to find it

Steven Roper
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Doesn't surprise me

I've long argued that there must be a large gas giant pottering around the Kuitper Belt. I could even suggest where to start looking for it - south of the the ecliptic plane, a long way south.

Why?

Because I've noticed that every single bloody long-period comet that has passed this planet in my lifetime - from Kohoutek to ISON - seems to come in from the south, swings around the Sun and thus reserves its most spectacular tail display exclusively for the Northern Hemisphere, with some even passing directly over the North Pole. It's almost as if the comets have all agreed that us pesky Australians are never to see a post-perihelion cometary skyshow, ever.

Which suggests to me, that if all these comets are coming from the south, swinging around the sun and exiting over the north, that something big, far out and far south in the Kuitper belt, could be gravitationally kicking them into the solar system from that direction.

So that's where I'd start looking for Planet IX!

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It's Wikipedia mythbuster time: 8 of the best on your 15th birthday

Steven Roper
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Re: Donation..

Have an upvote for the puppy-eyes comment. That shit drives me nuts too.

I've never donated to Wikipedia. I will, though, the same day I see that Jim Wales has sold his fucking yacht in order to help fund it.

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Steven Roper
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@DropBear

In essence I agree that science is hard work and that to truly understand a scientific topic you need to be able to get your head around the maths and underlying topics.

But the counterpoint is that enforcing such an in-depth approach to science excludes the vast majority of people, who don't have the time or intellectual wherewithal to pursue a scientific subject in such depth. And it is important that such people be given at least a basic understanding of the topic because, if you want funding and grants for your scientific research, you have to convince the taxpayers (that's Joe and Jane Average) that it's worth the expenditure. You do that by engaging their interest in science so that it fires their imaginations and captures their interest in a way they can understand without recourse to calculus and postgrad-level study.

One of the things I am often complimented on by family, friends and colleagues, is my ability to explain complex scientific concepts in simple, easy-to-understand language - primarily by drawing analogies. For instance, telling my petrolhead mates that the gravitational acceleration of the Earth is equivalent to a car doing 0-100 kph in 2.8 seconds, or that if you could drive a car in space at 100 kph it would take you 6 months to reach the Moon and 126 years to reach the Sun. It generates conversation on the subject and gets people interested who normally aren't bothered with that sort of thing.

And that interest translates into popular support when science needs more money for a new space probe or a bigger telescope.

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Internet of Things 'smart' devices are dumb by design

Steven Roper
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Re: Home cloud?

It's not hard to do this already. Simply set up a WiFi router with no direct connection to the internet and have all your IoT shit connect to that. Then that router has a single LAN line to a second non-WiFi router that does have an internet connection. If you want additional security and filtering, the internet-connection device can be a Linux box running SmoothWall or IPCop to keep control of all the telemetry and spying that seems to be default in IoT gadgets these days.

Which brings me to my other point: a fucking photo frame is phoning home? In $DEITY's name why? Whoever came up with that should do the world a huge favour and fucking kill themselves, preferably in a slow and messy manner.

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Bigger than Safe Harbor: Microsoft prez vows to take down US gov in data protection lawsuit

Steven Roper
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Pot, meet Kettle

Microsoft have some fucking face getting stuck into the US government considering their recent propensity to slurp every possible byte of data they can get their claws on from our computers!

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Friends Reunited to shut down. What do you mean, 'is it still going?'

Steven Roper
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Myspace seems to be primarily used by musos and bands these days - it's a fantastic site to trawl through if you're looking for good indie, non-mainstream music.

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Spoilsport scientists unstick Spider-Man

Steven Roper
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Re: and yet

Smaller creatures are also more susceptible to low-level radiation than large ones - ISTR seeing that in one of those "if humans suddenly vanished" documentaries that came out a few years ago. When our nuclear reactors break down, leaking radioactive shit all over the countryside, the show pointed out how small creatures like mice, birds and squirrels would be affected more than large creatures like moose or bears.

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Microsoft herds biz users to Windows 10 by denying support for Win 7 and 8 on new CPUs

Steven Roper
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The more they push

the more people they will push onto Linux or Apple.

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Put your private parts on display if you want to keep earning a living

Steven Roper
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Re: Opportunities for the over 40's

"Everyone knows the Australian wildlife takes care of stragglers well before incontinence sets in."

You, sir, are clearly not familiar with how our wildlife operates. In most parts of the world such poisonous, venomous or merely vicious creatures kill you comparatively quickly. Not so in Australia. Our wildlife doesn't kill you - at least, very rarely.

No, what our wildlife excels at is the infliction of mortal, insufferable, prolonged, Dantean-level agony - without actually granting the mercy of mere death. If you die, it isn't because of the venom, it's because the pain is so unbearable you do everything in your power to kill yourself. Even the plants can drive you to suicide!

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PDF redaction is hard, NSW Medical Council finds out - the hard way

Steven Roper
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Not a user error

I would put this down to a design flaw in the PDF editor's user interface design, not the ignorance or incompetence of the document creator or user.

If the PDF editor (presumably Acrobat or whatever they're using) is giving the impression of redacting text by offering a feature to black it out, then at the very least the program should treat that as a delete-and-replace, removing the text and replacing it with the vector definition of the redaction block.

While those of us who frequent this site are mostly technically literate, it's easy to forget that your average office worker isn't, nor is it fair to expect them to be. That's what they pay us for.

Part of the art of programming and user interface design is asking the question, "When a user does this, what would most normal people expect to happen?" Finding the answers to that question and making the program behave that way is what makes an application intuitive and easy to use.

This isn't just pandering to people's incompetence or stupidity. It's actively reducing the possibility of people making mistakes like this. Therefore in my view the best remedy is to redesign the PDF editor application to actually redact the text when a redaction square is drawn over it, not to chastise or retrain all the document users.

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Boffins baffled by record-smashing supernova that shouldn't exist

Steven Roper
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Re: No H or He?

"So, what's hiding beyond the horizon?"

More universe? Consider the stage of the Big Rip where England, America and Australia are all expanding away from each other at light speed. At this point, each exists in its own universe. I, sitting here in Australia, cannot see or communicate with anyone in England or America. From my perspective, you have simply ceased to exist. From your own perspective, Australia - and I - also no longer exists in your frame of reference.

I think what you would see rapidly approaching you would be an "event horizon" - a sphere all around you, like a black hole turned inside out. As it shrinks around you, the walls of the room you are in recede from you, faster and faster, becoming fainter and fainter yet with time passing slower and slower. The clock on the wall, as it recedes from you, slows down and as the shrinking event horizon reaches it, stops. Beyond it, from your perspective, is nothing - because time has stopped and everything beyond it has become infinite in duration, width and mass, and of zero length - since this is what happens to anything travelling at light speed.

Of course, at our scale this would all take place in such a minute fraction of a second that your nervous system wouldn't have time to process what was happening before it ceased to exist. But time dilation might work in your favour in those last few moments of life; perhaps the relativistic expansion of space might drag out the final moments to years or centuries.

So, what lies beyond the horizon? Me? From your perspective, I have infinite mass, width and duration and zero length; from my perspective, it's you who are thus afflicted. Could our respective "universes" even be said to have any kind of existence with respect to each other?

When we deal with the extremes of nature, with relativistic and quantum-mechanical phenomena, common sense goes out of the window. I don't have the maths to explain in better terms what happens or what lies "beyond the horizon"; only to know that just because I call it a "horizon" doesn't mean it is even an edge or boundary in the familiar sense we think of one. Like the horizon you see when you look over the sea from the beach, it has no real "location" or "distance", yet it presents an intangible limit beyond which you cannot see.

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Steven Roper
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Re: No H or He?

"..."incoming from the opposite direction" component, subject to the right conditions?"

The model I've described is one possible model for the shape of the universe - a "closed" universe. Brewster's Angle Grinder above described another alternative - on "open" universe.

The "closed" universe theory can stand because since space expanded faster than light, the "wrap-around" is more than the 13.8 billion light-years away that represents the maximum distance we can observe. The "hypersphere" or "hypertoroid" the universe is mapped onto, like the 2D space mapped on to the sphere or torus in my analogy, is so vast that light hasn't had time since the Big Bang to completely wrap around it yet.

I can imagine a time, perhaps still billions of years hence, when future astronomers will eventually spot faint blue-shifted early-universe galaxies moving towards them, mirroring red-shifted early-universe galaxies on the opposite side of the sky.

That, of course, will only eventually happen if the universe's expansion is constant or decelerating. At present it appears to be accelerating. If that trend continues, it will ultimately lead to an effect cosmologists call the Big Rip.

In this scenario, the distance at which the expansion of space reaches the speed of light decreases over time, until our galaxy is all that remains in our universe because all other galaxies are moving away from us at light-speed, and therefore no longer in our relativistic frame of reference. As the distance to this "horizon" continues to decrease, our own galaxy becomes bigger than the visible universe, and stars in our own galaxy are moving away from us at light speed.

Follow this down to its terrifying conclusion: Our solar system; Neptune, then Uranus, then Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Mercury, Venus, and the Moon all vanish from our space because the expansion is carrying them away from us at light speed. Finally, you and I are in different universes because England and America are expanding away from Australia and each other at light speed. In the last fraction of a second, your feet are moving away from your head at light speed, and finally the molecules, then atoms, then even subatomic particles in your body get ripped apart by the accelerating universal expansion.

That would be an absolutely awesome way to pop your clogs. But even if it does happen, if the universe's expansion continues to accelerate, it won't be for many billions of years. Sadly that means I won't be around to enjoy buying the hyperspatial farm!

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Steven Roper
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Re: No H or He?

"...at what speed was the border between space and non-space moving?"

There is no "border" between space and non-space, just as there is no "edge" of the Earth. This is the kind of weird shit where you have to try to get your head around higher dimensional spaces, so I'll try to explain in visual terms.

Imagine that you are a 2-dimensional being, like those in Edwin Abbott's Flatland. To you, there is no such thing as "up" and "down"; these concepts simply don't exist in your worldview. Your entire universe consists only of "north-south" and "east-west."

If your 2D universe is mapped onto the surface of a sphere or torus, it would eventually wrap around on itself. If you walked far enough in what seemed to you in all measurable ways to be a straight line, you would eventually return to your original position from the opposite direction in which you set out. It wouldn't matter which direction you chose - north, south, east or west - you would infallibly return from the other direction without ever apparently having changed direction - and without ever encountering any kind of border, edge or boundary.

At the time of the Big Bang in your 2D universe, the sphere or torus would be very small, and you would walk around it and return to your origin in a very short time. But then suddenly the sphere expanded hugely, and that five-minute walk suddenly became a multi-billion-year light-speed hike. But there was no edge or border you could encounter when the universe was small, just as there is no edge or border to be found when it got large.

But, you argue, the sphere does have a border - the limit of its surface. If you move along its radius, instead of its circumference, you've crossed an edge.

Yes, you have. But to do that you had to travel in a direction that, for the 2D inhabitants of the surface of the sphere, simply does not exist except in certain abstract equations. No 2D denizen can ever point in that direction and say "we could go that way!" - because the only possible ways they can see to point to all lie along the circumference of the sphere. How do you explain what "up" and "down" are to beings that cannot understand or perceive those "directions?"

Now expand this thinking into three-dimensional space - our universe. No matter what direction you fly in - north, south, east, west, up or down - if you keep going in a straight line, you will eventually return to where you started, from the opposite direction, without ever encountering any edge or border, no matter where you go or how hard you look. If there is a boundary or edge to space, it is in a higher dimension that we cannot point to or travel in. I could say to you, "you could go "hyperin" or "hyperout" - but what would those words mean to you? How do I point hyperin the way I can point north, east, or up, to direct you hyperout of the universe? Do the words hyperin and hyperout even make sense to you?

At the time of the Big Bang, the universe was very small, so if you walked for five minutes in a straight line you end up back where you started. But then suddenly space expanded hugely, and that five-minute walk suddenly became a multi-billion-year light-speed hike. But there was no edge or border you could encounter when the universe was small, just as there is no edge or border to be found when got large.

Hopefully that imagery will reveal to you the flaw in your question. :)

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The Day Netflix Blocked My VPN is the world's new most-hated show

Steven Roper
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"Bound to be away around this (pirate bay springs to mind but I don't mind paying for stuff, just bloody annoying when companies attack their customers like this)."

If you want to support the content creators then keep your Netflix subscription going, because part of that money goes to the creators anyway. But since you're paying for it you can now torrent the shows you want with a clean conscience, knowing you are still supporting the creators!

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Steven Roper
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Pint

Re: Free Trade isn't fair Trade

This, a million times this. Since I can't give you a million upvotes have a beer instead.

Here in Australia we've had high street retailers endlessly bitching and moaning about people here buying stuff online direct form China - but where do you think they get their overpriced tat manufactured?

They whine about not being able to compete because they have to charge GST and overseas sellers don't. But GST is only 10%, while their markup on Chinese prices is closer to 500-600%. GST has fuck-all to do with it.

Oh yeah, outsourcing is fine for Big Business but not for us.

Fucking hypocrites, all of them. We need a revolution to hale these greedy two-faced cunts to the gutter where they belong.

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Steven Roper
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Re: and so ends "Netflix and Chill"

Pirate Bay and Chill?

KAT and Chill?

EZTV and Chill?

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Steven Roper
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Re: I wonder how

There are other ways of detecting VPNs and proxies than playing whack-a-mole with IP addresses.

1) Many will strip out the user-agent string on a HTTP request, meaning that while some browsers can be set to do this themselves, most people won't bother and so the vast majority of stripped user-agent strings substantially indicate that request is coming from an anonymisation service.

2) It's trivial to geolocate IP addresses. An account registered in country A that accesses the service from an IP in country A then a few minutes later from country B, is an account that has either been shared with someone else (generally a ToS violation in itself) or has switched to using a proxy or VPN in country B.

3) VPNs and proxies tend to distribute each client's traffic randomly over their IP range. So if an account is logged in but making requests from multiple IP addresses in a given range over a short time frame, and if multiple accounts are also making requests from the same set of IP addresses at the same time, there's a good chance that that IP range belongs to a commercial VPN or proxy provider. ISPs, while they do rotate their customers over dynamic IP addresses, tend to cycle them at a much slower rate than VPNs and proxies.

Individually these traits don't necessarily indicate a proxy/VPN, but some half-decent analytics software that looks for cluster behaviours exhibiting several of these sorts of traits must be able to pinpoint VPNs and proxies with a high degree of accuracy and in real time - quickly enough that commercial VPN providers won't be able to evade it by switching IP ranges hoping to play whack-a-mole.

This has dire implications for freedom and censorship avoidance, because once it becomes widely possible to reliably block VPNs and proxies, thereby rendering them useless for general internet use, you can bet this detection technique will be abused to sniff out dissidents and whistleblowers, and enforce tracking, spying and profiling, not just to thwart copyright geo-dodgers.

The first harbinger of this dangerous trend was first evinced years ago, in 4chan's uncanny ability to detect and block anyone using a VPN or proxy even back in 2008; and the end it inevitably leads to is that blocking them will become pro-forma for every major website that seeks to monitor, track and monetise its traffic. Expect proxy-blocking to soon become the norm at all your favourite news, social media and tech sites, as well as media streamers.

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What do Angolan rebels, ISIS widows, Metallica and a photographer have in common?

Steven Roper
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Re: Murdered?

It's only murder if it violates the government's monopoly on violence.

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Server retired after 18 years and ten months – beat that, readers!

Steven Roper
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Re: The drive's a Seagate...

"When you consider that that's barely more than a quarter of the way to the Sun, that's actually a bit disappointing :)"

I find it awe-inspiring. This sort of thing really hammers home just how big space is.

Another comparison I once calculated that puts it into perspective, is that if we could build roads in space, and you drove a car along such an interplanetary M1 at 100 kph (60 mph) 24/7 without ever having to stop for food, fuel or rest - it would take you 6 months to reach the Moon, and 126 years to reach the Sun...!

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How to build the next $1bn tech unicorn: Get into ransomware

Steven Roper
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Re: Fool Them Twice....

Then their CEO and entire upper management should charged with criminal negligence and aiding and abetting criminal extortion, and the company put into involuntary administration.

In fact, anyone who pays a ransom demand should be charged with aiding and abetting criminal extortion. By paying they are not only encouraging the crime, they are also putting others at risk, and they should be held directly and personally accountable for that.

Governments refuse to pay terrorist kidnapping ransoms for a very good reason. That should be extended to companies and private citizens as well.

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Kentucky spies stricken: Ban on web snaps of horror accidents mulled

Steven Roper
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Re: That's not really what's happening

"The definition of "professional news media" is probably an organisation that wouldn't do that without some serious public interest reason"

May I ask what planet you're living on, that has socially responsible news media? Because that sounds like a place I would love to come and live in too! Is your world accepting refugees?

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Steven Roper
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Re: That's not really what's happening

From your link:

"The bill’s exception for the news media also is problematic, Fleischaker said.

“In a very real sense, anybody with an iPhone can take a picture and transmit it to the world. I can do it on my phone,” he said. “If you’re trying to define today who is the media and who isn’t, good luck with that.”"

This is exactly what bothered me the most as well. In today's connected world, "the press" has become little more than an officially-approved social-media-regurgitating censorship and propaganda machine. In terms of what constitutes "news media", my personal blog qualifies just as much as CNN, with the only real differences being audience magnitude and article posting rate.

So where would this exemption end? What constitutes "news media?" A blog with ten readers? A hundred? A hundred thousand? A million? Or is it any site with more than one contributing author? Five? Fifty?

Also, being in Australia I am bound by the same censorship, privacy-protection and publication-liability laws as the major news outlets, so as far as I'm concerned if the ABC are allowed to stick photos of a car crash on their front page, so am I. If I'm bound by the same rules I also claim the same rights.

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Philae's phinal phlop: Lonely lander didn't answer wakeup signal

Steven Roper
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Re: Yes, Very nice ...

That incident was the final straw that turned my raw hatred of feminists and their SJW allies up to psychopathic levels. I'm glad I don't know any in real life because I'd likely have to serve time for what I'd do to those sanctimonious cunts if I ever met one in the flesh.

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Sigh ... c'est la vie: France mulls mandatory encryption backdoors

Steven Roper
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Re: I hope this goes ahead

Love it. Any country implementing this rank idiocy immediately gets cut off from the global internet and any and all forms of IT hardware are no longer available there. Welcome back to the Bronze Age, ladies and gentlemen, enjoy your newly primitive lifestyle!

Lets see how long these wankers keep this up in the face of that.

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Samsung turns to smart home, wearables chips as mobile declines

Steven Roper
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Re: "from door locks to security cameras.... managed from a single dashboard on the TV"

I can see emerging in the not too distant future, an underground market based on "after-sales IoT modding." The "modders" will, for a small fee, remove the cameras and microphones and phone-home shit from your "smart" devices in order to keep your home free and under your control.

Like the console mod-chippers of yesteryear, you'll likely find them in the more disreputable sections of sites like Craigslist and Locanto and/or operating out of fleabag basement rentals in the seedier parts of town...

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Steven Roper
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Re: Yet to see a post ever that's enthusiastic....

For me the enthusiasm is dampened more by the dystopian aspects increasingly manifesting behind technology, more than the convenience factors. Every time I see a new invention like an IoT air conditioner, lights or sound system, the first thing that comes to mind isn't something like "Wow, I can tell my aircon to turn on half an hour before I get home," or "I could have my home entertainment system ready to binge-screen Game of Thrones as soon as I put my feet up."

No, the first thing that comes to my mind when I see a new tech innovation these days is "Who does this thing phone home to? What data does it send them? How and for what purposes is that data profiled and analysed? How much are they going to ransom-rent me per month to continue using it?"

The insatiable greed of Big Business, and the boundless powerlust of Big Government and Law Enforcement, has completely destroyed in me any desire to embrace any new technology. There once was a time when I would have welcomed all this home automation, personal enhancement and cybernetic advancement. Now it merely makes me feel like I'm being crushed into an ever-shrinking box from which there is ultimately no escape.

There are those here who call me paranoid. Fair enough, if the kind of dystopia this world is rapidly turning into suits them, good bloody luck to them. But my only wish is to remain in control of my own life, to make my own decisions knowing they are of my own will.

Not to monitored constantly and narrowly for even the slightest infraction of a raft of unjust laws enacted only to benefit wealthy bankers or pious moralists, and not to be bled dry by the endless machinations of financial vampires determined to find ever more efficient ways to wring another bloody penny out of me.

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Going on a date, and it's just the two of you? How ... quaint. OkCupid's setting up threesomes

Steven Roper
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Re: To answer your question about demisexuals

"I've been to DragonCon. Your model is...incomplete...."

Hmmm. Maybe imaginary values aren't enough. We might need to derive Julia-like curves from given points in the original sexual space...

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Steven Roper
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Re: To answer your question about demisexuals

"Although I anticipate a problem with the z axis, folks could be fetish and also get off on the sapiosexual concept."

You could always give people like that an imaginary value on that axis. ;)

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Steven Roper
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Re: To answer your question about demisexuals

... it would be a simple matter to map that onto three RGB intensities and have a particular colour as an indentifier.

Brilliant. On reflection, I like that under your RGB schema, the rainbow flag then becomes a symbol for "I fuck anyone and anything for any reason, intellectual or physical, but only when I'm in the mood" instead of symbolising only LGBTI people! ;)

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Steven Roper
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Re: To answer your question about demisexuals

Like there's recently many new orientations and sexual states...

You're welcome. I know there are all these labels for different sexual attributes and I honestly feel most of them are because everyone wants to be a special snowflake. That's not really an idea I support; although I identify as asexual/nonsexual all that means to me is that I don't do sex or relationships. How other people react to me knowing that about me is a matter for their judgement. If it upsets or bothers them that's their lookout, as long as they don't assault or harass me for being what I am.

As anyone who is familiar with my posts on here knows, I detest political correctness and the idea that people have some right not to be offended. I hate how people feel they have to skirt delicately around certain topics for fear of being called a bigot or a something-phobe. If people want to label themselves as different they have to be prepared to accept that such differences make some people uncomfortable, and that's human nature. I myself have had some quite nasty things said to me about my asexuality but really, I'd far rather people honestly express how it makes them feel than they smooth over their interactions with a false layer of insincere niceness driven by fear of causing offence. Give me honesty over diplomacy any day!

As far as sexuality is concerned, I simply see it as a 3-dimensional space, with the x, y, and z axes representing orientation, intensity and abstraction, respectively.

Orientation is attraction to own (homosexual; -1 on the x-axis) or other (heterosexual; +1 on the x-axis.) Intensity is negligible sexual desire (asexual/nonsexual; -1 on the y-axis) to strong desire (hypersexual/nympho; +1 on the y-axis.) Abstraction is attraction to the concrete/physical (paraphilia/fetishism; -1 on the z-axis) to the abstract/ideal (sapiosexual, romantic; +1 on the z-axis.)

Given a -1 to +1 range for each axis, pretty much everyone on the planet can have their sexuality completely described by a triaxial coordinate. I would describe myself as an 0.5, -1, -0.5. At least then reducing it to numbers eliminates the special-snowflakiness of ascribing a million PC labels to all possible positions on the sexual scattergram! ;)

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Steven Roper
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To answer your question about demisexuals

A demisexual is halfway on the spectrum between hetero/homosexual and nonsexual/asexual. Demisexuals are people who experience sexual attraction to others, but tend to stop short of sexual intercourse. Many like to experience the "romantic" aspects of relationships - holding hands, kissing, fondling, walks on the beach, candlelit dinners - but prefer not to engage in actual penetrative sex.

I myself am asexual, preferring to completely avoid intimate relationships and sex altogether, even with hookers, but I do know a few demisexuals who are in intimate but nonsexual relationships.

I hope that clarifies the term for you.

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Confirmed: How to stop Windows 10 forcing itself onto PCs – your essential guide

Steven Roper
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Re: Paying for Windows 10 after July

"You don't have to be an MS fanboi to recognise mindless paranoia when you see it."

Even as you don't need a tinfoil hat to recognise mindless shilling when you see it.

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Steven Roper
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@ David 132 Re: Paying for Windows 10 after July

"I don't think they will suddenly switch existing copies of Windows 10 to pay-as-you-go."

Yes. Your analysis is cogent. It won't be an abrupt "pay or die" transition, but it will certainly follow the boiling-frog principle, charging nickel-and-dime for this or that "extra feature", slowly but inevitably leading up to a full-on monthly ransom.

The other side of the coin I suspect will be that if you don't pay, your computer may not be locked down, but you will be constantly nagged to "upgrade to premium", your computer will be ransacked for useful information to sell to advertisers and LEAs, and you'll be endlessly bombarded with unblockable ads on the desktop as well as in every application you use. Want to get rid of the ads and spying? Pay up, picknose!

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Steven Roper
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Paying for Windows 10 after July

I don't think most people are fully appreciating the ramifications of what this really means.

With all the concerns about slurping and spying, people aren't paying as much attention to the Ransom-as-a-Service rentism business model Microsoft have adopted. And they seem to be adopting it universally.

Now if you have to pay a monthly ransom to continue using Office 365, Visual Studio or even Solitaire, I'd put money on the "no longer free after July" really meaning, "You'll have to pay a monthly ransom just to continue using Windows" as well. It won't be a once-off cost. Microsoft have figured out billing people monthly is a far more lucrative model.

All the signs are there. The forced upgrades with no way to back out or revert; the upgrade becoming 'mandatory' this year; the monthly charges being levied on applications like Office; the "free for a limited time" gig.

Once everyone is forced onto Windows 10, Microsoft will have us all by the bollocks. That's when the shit will really hit the fan, and people wake up to the reality of Microsoft's true meaning of "no longer free after July."

Pay your monthly ransom or lose access to your computer entirely.

That's where this is going. I'd bet a year's income on it.

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It's replicant Roy Batty's birthday – but hey, where's my killer robot?

Steven Roper
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Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

" I cannot be bothered to replicate my thoughtful, well read, and informatiue post."

Erm... You actually type your posts directly into the comment box instead of typing them into Notepad or similar and copypasting them from there, so you can save them on your machine before posting?

You should try my method sometime. That way if a mod deletes your post, you can easily post it again. And again. And again. Until the mod gives up, goes offline, or you get banned, whichever comes first!

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Steven Roper
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Never mind the replicants

Where's my artificial owl!?

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Chinese unleash autonomous airborne taxi

Steven Roper
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Re: Blade Runner

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Phone our toll-free number now on 1300-SLA-SHER and get yours fast while stocks last!

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Jenkins issues code of conduct to keep rowdy automation fans in line

Steven Roper
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Re: "Sexualised language"

It means you're not allowed to make "fork" and "dongle" innuendoes or utter any similar form of political incorrectness, lest you offend the delicate little feelings of some hypersensitive feminist.

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BoMed: Oz weather bureau network struggles to its feed

Steven Roper
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The feed from the Himawari-8 satellite is still down as of posting this comment though. It's showing the image from 5:10 AM CAST still, it normally updates every 10 minutes.

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Tell us what's wrong with the DMCA, says US Copyright office

Steven Roper
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Yes, a thousand times this.

I would add to the false/incorrect clause another stipulation that the demonstrable misapplication of the DCMA as a tool of social or political censorship should be likewise punished. Such as the commonplace abuse of the DMCA by a certain quasi-religious organisation founded by a mediocre 20th-century science fiction author may attest.

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Foetuses offered vaginal music streaming service

Steven Roper
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Re: Hmm...

Interesting that the above commenters' babies reacted negatively to music, because according to my mother, when I was a foetus way back there in the dim and distant 60s, she found that putting a particular piece of music on the record player would actually quieten me when I was restless in the womb. Of course, that was with ordinary (60s-era) loudspeakers, not headphones pressed against her belly - or anywhere else... ;)

The piece in question is the Scene from Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" - which has been my all-time favourite piece of music since as far back as I can remember, and it still makes my blood fizz when I listen to it today. According to my mother I loved it before I was even born!

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Periodic table enjoys elemental engorgement

Steven Roper
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I have a compromise deal for you Americans

In the interests of ensuring the consistency of the "-ium" suffix for metals, we'll agree to start spelling sulphur with an f if you guys will agree to spell and pronounce the second i in aluminium!

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Dick limps towards inglorious end: Gadget retailer on the brink

Steven Roper
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Re: Oztralia

Don't be so parochial. The Register has evolved into an international news site, for all that it is based in the UK. Show some interest in what happens outside your borders... you're starting to sound like an American! ;)

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Steven Roper
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It's a sad end

for a childhood icon, although it has seemed inevitable ever since they dropped the hobbyist market and became just another phone/consumer electronics shop.

As a boy in the 70s and early 80s before I got into computers, I was into electronics. Tricky Dicky (as DSE was called by hobbyists then) was the go-to store whenever you needed hobbyist gear - from discrete components to common CMOS/TTL ICs to PCB etching fluid to soldering irons. I still fondly remember riding my bike all the way into town instead of the local shopping mall because of DSE selling transistors at 14 cents each when Tandy Electronics were ripping people off $1.95 for a two-pack, and because DSE was about the only place in my city to get the latest issue of ETI magazine. And of course his Fun Way into Electronics kits were what I cut my teeth on - digital counters, sound effect generators (remember the old SN76477 chip?), light chasers and even a digital bike speedometer.

So in a way it's sad to see them finally disappear from the scene. But in reality the essence of what they were had disappeared many years ago, when they transitioned from the hobbyist market to the consumer electronics market. When the hobbyist section gradually shrank from being most of the store to a small corner down the back was the death knell for the Tricky Dicky I used to know and love as a kid, and that was a long time ago.

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2016 in mobile: Visit a components mall in China... 30 min later, you're a manufacturer

Steven Roper
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Re: "ignited the PC revolution"

@Pompous Git - Oh yes, I do remember the Sorceror; your mention of it brought back a memory of seeing an advert on TV for it. My first computer was a Sinclair ZX-81 (with 1K of RAM, 544 bytes available for user memory!) which I got for my 16th birthday. Needless to say, I got upgraded the following Christmas to a VIC-20.

@JeffyPooh - yep, they sure do go back. Although there was none of the open hostility displayed by today's warring fanboi crowds; back then it was more just a friendly rivalry. Incidentally the C64 used the 6510, not the 6502 - that was the VIC-20 that used the earlier processor. :)

@AC re: Dick Smith Wizard: It might have been spelt "Wizzard" actually, it was so long ago I can't be sure. It was a pretty basic system that only briefly saw the light of day before being overshadowed by the likes of Sinclair, Tandy and Commodore.

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Steven Roper
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Re: "ignited the PC revolution"

I don't know about America, but Apple certainly did NOT "ignite the computer revolution" here in Australia, and according to the contacts my coding crew had throughout Europe in the 80s, they didn't do much in Europe either.

The company that "ignited the computer revolution" in Australia and much of Europe was Commodore, first with the C64 and later with the Amiga. In the UK it was Sinclair with the ZX Spectrum, but even that didn't see a lot of action against the C64 on the Continent - or Down Under.

There were many brands of computers in the late 70s and early 80s - besides Commodore's VIC-20, C64, C128 and Amiga series, there were Tandy TRS-80s (or Trash-80s as we called them!) Amstrad CPC, Dick Smith Wizard, Microbee, Honeywell, Texas Instruments TI99/4A, BBC Micro, Dragon and Acorn as well as the Apple II, which was really just another one in the crowd. None were compatible with any other, and none had particular market dominance.

Here in Australia the BBC Micro became cemented in schools in the early 80s, although its comparatively high price put it out of reach of most households. The Apple was simply too expensive for most households or even schools, although I did see a few in the local uni alongside the Commodore PETs in the physics department.

But it was the C64 that took home computing by storm. Affordable, widely available, powerful and with a massive software base, it had blown all of its competitors away by the mid-80s. Even after the Amiga and Atari ST ushered in the 16-bit era, the venerable C64 was to keep a place in the home computer market for nearly another decade before giving way to the Windows 95/Intel boom.

Apple were, and up until the release of the iPad and iPhone had always been, a niche market. They had the graphic design and typesetting industry sewn up, but wielded little influence outside of that arena. It was the iPad and iPhone that brought them into the mainstream; prior to that, they were definitely a minority platform, and while they may have been among the first to bring out a home computer, they certainly did not have the reach to claim they "ignited the computer revolution!"

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Forget anonymity, we can remember you wholesale with machine intel, hackers warned

Steven Roper
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"If you swear that you are the only programmer you know who insists on arranging your braces that way, you either haven't programmed very much, or you don't know very many programmers."

Your second guess is the correct one. I've been programming since 1983, when I started with first CBM BASIC and then 6510 assembler on the Commodore 64, and went on from there. But it's not a particularly sociable lifestyle, and I'm not a particularly sociable man, so I only know a dozen or so programmers.

But whenever I see code on the internet, whether it's stackoverflow, git or SF, it nearly always has opening curly braces following the conditional rather than on the next line. So I'm sure I can be forgiven for thinking I'm alone in this convention!

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Steven Roper
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I do indent my code, but I hate the convention that has the opening curly brace on the same line as the conditional that spawns it, such as:

if (condition == test) {

....doCondition();

....etc...

}

I always indent my code with the opening and closing braces lined up and on their own lines. It makes code blocks easier to spot as well as spacing everything out for easier legibility, like this:

if (condition == test)

{

....doCondition();

....etc...

}

This way bracket highlighting at the cursor makes both braces instantly spottable at the left, rather than having to hunt across lines of code to find the opening curly brace!

Of course this also wouldn't survive compilation, but anyone seeing my source would peg me as its author since I swear I'm the only programmer I know who insists on arranging my braces this way!

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Cache-astrophic: Why Valve's Steam store spewed players' private profiles to strangers

Steven Roper
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Re: Good idea.

WE definitely seem to be going backwards in a lot of ways. First there's the cloud/rentism mentality that harks back to the master/slave dumb-terminal-to-mainframe systems of the 60s and 70s, then there's the loss of multitasking/windowing in favour of "fullscreen apps" like it was in the 8-bit era, now we have games that take an hour to get going.

Brings back fond memories of playing tape games on the C64 in the early 80s before they invented fastloaders. Want a game of River Raid or Pitfall 2? Pop the tape in the datasette, type "LOAD", press play on tape, and go have dinner while it loads. Once you've eaten and done the dishes, it's ready to play.

Of course River Raid and Pitfall 2 loaded in around 10 minutes or so - rather faster than the hour or so it takes some of today's games.

I think IT technology peaked sometime around 2010-ish. We've been regressing ever since!

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Here – here is that 'hoverboard' you've wanted so much. Look at it. Look. at. it.

Steven Roper
Silver badge

The one big mistake

a lot of science-fiction of the 20th century made was the idea that we would or could perfect any kind of anti-gravity in the near future.

All the devices we thought would become commonplace in the new millennium - personal jetpacks, flying cars, hoverboards, the floating camera drones in Babylon 5 - are all predicated on the idea of flying with very little expenditure of energy.

Earth's gravity at the surface pulls us downwards with a constant acceleration equivalent to a car doing 0-100 kph (0-60 mph) in 2.8 seconds. Only the most powerful high-end sports cars can achieve anything approaching that. Any device intended to fly must effectively match that acceleration upward merely to hover, let alone gain altitude. And it must maintain that acceleration even when put under load - such as a human being riding the thing. However you colour it, it takes a lot of energy to impart that kind of acceleration to anything much heavier than a tennis ball.

As to anti-gravity, how do we invent such a thing when we don't really know even what gravity is? Perhaps once we develop a quantum theory of gravity, and/or reconcile the equations of general relativity and quantum mechanics involving it, we might be able to do something in that direction. But we're years, even decades, away from solving those problems, and until we do, we can't even think about inventing any kind of anti-gravity device.

And even if and when we do, it will still require enough energy to counteract that 0-100 kph in 2.8 s to float. Any kind of transportation capable of enabling a human being to soar through the air like a bird for hours while running off a mobile phone battery isn't going to happen, now or in the future.

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