* Posts by Steven Roper

1734 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Astronomers catch first sighting of a planet's birth pangs

Steven Roper
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@Bleu

I feel for you mate, the light pollution from a huge city like Tokyo must be absolutely staggering. It's amazing you can even see 20 stars from such a place.

I live in Adelaide, Australia, which is a city of a million people, but compared to a megalopolis like Tokyo it would be little more than an outback village. Yet I've looked up at the night sky from Victoria Square in the centre of the city and the light pollution there kills off all but the brightest stars too.

But Adelaide is also fairly compact; about half an hour's drive from the city and you're out in the Barossa Valley or the Mt Lofty Ranges, where the light pollution disappears, and the night sky from there is absolutely incredible. Here in the Southern Hemisphere we can't see the Plough or Polaris, but here the centre of the galaxy rides high overhead and the dust lanes of the Milky Way obscuring Sag A stand out in razor-sharp detail to the naked eye. You can clearly see the central bulge and the sky-spanning spiral arms stretching off to either side. And the Magellanic Clouds, our satellite galaxies, are also amazing to see - the Tarantula Nebula is an easy naked-eye object despite being 110,000 light years off.

Perhaps you can find a spot where you can see the night sky. I haven't been to Japan myself, but I have spent many an intriguing hour hopping around it on Google Earth, and I noticed there's a hiking trail to the top of Mt Fuji. You can even follow it on Street View since someone's gone up to the summit with a backpack pano camera.

Perhaps on your next time off you might take a little trip up to the summit there and see what the night sky looks like. At that altitude much of the atmosphere would be below you, which would not only make the stars clearer but would also eliminate much of the scattering that causes light pollution to be such a problem in your part of the world.

(Interestingly, I noticed that Mt Fuji is on the same longitude as Adelaide. My house is only 15 km west of the longitude line that runs through Mt Fuji, albeit thousands of kilometres south of it!)

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Steven Roper
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Yes, the concept of looking into the past as you look into the night sky is truly wonderful. One way I often put it into perspective when pointing out objects in the sky to friends and family is to relate it to my ancestors.

So when I point out, for instance, Rigel in Orion (900 l.y. away) I ask, who was my direct-line ancestor living 900 years ago? My dad's dad's dad's...dad. Who was he? What did he do with his life? How did the events of the world at the time affect him? Because if someone is orbiting Rigel and looking back at the Earth with a humungous telescope, that's who they're seeing, not me!

I never fail to find that a sobering concept.

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Yay, more 'STEM' grads! You're using your maths degree to do ... what?

Steven Roper
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Re: Euclid is not outdated, worthless knowledge

You also need a good grasp of Euclidean geometry if you want to get into any of these fields: game design, 3D modelling, graphic design, architecture, or photography (think projecting 360° panoramas etc) among others. So for one thing all those budding wannabe game developers better have their 3D trigonometry down pat if they hope to get anywhere in that field.

It still amazes me how dismissive some people are of geometry. They don't realise how much they use it in everyday life without even thinking about it: things like deciding whether it's worth driving to the shop or walking to the corner store, figuring out the best route to take to a friend's place, finding north without a compass, working out if your car will fit into that parking space - all this entails a near-instinctive use of geometry.

As far as I'm concerned, if you can't even guesstimate the diagonal distance between two points given their x and y coordinates by the time you finish high school, you haven't finished school and you sure as hell aren't ready for any skilled position.

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Apple's Faulty Powers moment: iPad Pro slabs 'temporarily bricked' during recharge

Steven Roper
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Headmaster

"temporarily bricked"?

Isn't that something of an oxymoron? As I understand the term "bricked", it means the device has lopped the twig, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible, and thus is suitable only for use a brick. "Doorstop" was another one that I recall from the 80s and 90s.

So if it's only temporarily out of commission, it can't have been "bricked," as using it in such a role would be a waste of a device that can be got working again. A device is only used as a brick when it has become permanently useless for any other purpose.

The only situation I can think of in which something could possibly be said to be "temporarily bricked", is if it actually WOULD 'voom' if you put four million volts through it...

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Google, didn't you get the memo? Stop trying to make Google+ happen

Steven Roper
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They did their dash with me

when they promoted and then deep-sixed Wave, Buzz and iGoogle. They've demonstrated a clear track record of offering services one tends to come to rely on and then pulling the plug. Never again will I allow myself to depend on or rely on a Google service other than basic search (and even then only on the rare occasions DuckDuckGo doesn't give me what I'm after.)

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Hubble finds lonely 'void galaxy' floating in cosmic nothingness

Steven Roper
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Yes! I finally meet someone else who has read the Saga of the Exiles (and hopefully the counterpoint Galactic Milieu series as well!)

Every time I've tried to talk about those books in sci-fi forums, I inevitably get responses of "What saga is that?" and "Who the fuck is Julian May?" I can't believe that such brilliant books - that are supposed to be bestsellers to boot - seem be so unfamiliar to so many sci-fi fans.

I second your suggestion that it could be the Duat galaxy, since it is a barred spiral. Although Duat was supposed to be 240 million light years away, and I think this one is a bit further than that.

Anyway, thumbs up for the reference!

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Commentard achieves bronze badge, goes directly to jail

Steven Roper
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Re: Actually I think there should be some form of quality control

"And then Eadon got kicked, to the tune of very many very small violins, I am sure."

That was a truly sad day for the El Reg community. Eadon's shitposting was pure Reg gold; I had to replace a container's worth of keyboards because of him. Only Webster Phreaky ever surpassed him, but he seemed to have vanished before Eadon took over. Perhaps they were one and the same entity, and perhaps his ghost haunts the El Reg comments threads even to this day...

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Hold on, France and Russia. Anonymous is here to kick ISIS butt

Steven Roper
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Cloudflare's CEO is right about one thing

It is not Cloudflare's business to vet and make political decisions about the sites it hosts - any more than it is the business of the postal service to open people's letters to check for illegal content, or telcos to monitor phone calls. The moment we make carriage services liable for the content they transport we open a very dangerous and undesirable can of worms.

I also stand very strongly for the right of freedom of speech, in fact standing for freedom is my highest ideal. But a line has to be drawn, and for me that line exists where one's speech advocates or enables taking freedom away from someone else. I hold that the right of free speech does not carry with it the right to take it away from others - or even to advocate taking it away. Freedom for one must by definition be freedom for all otherwise the entire concept becomes nonsensical.

So sites that recruit or promote the cause of any group whose stated purpose is to impose violent control of others - and ISIS and its ilk very definitely fall into that category - are not, or should not be, "protected speech."

However it is the role of law enforcement and and the judiciary to determine if a law has been broken, not carriage providers. Cloudflare have every right to host any site, no matter what its content, right up until the moment it is told to remove the site by a duly appointed and empowered legal authority that has followed due process to determine that the site breaks the law. And once that happens, only then should they remove it.

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Aircraft laser strikes hit new record with 20 incidents in one night

Steven Roper
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Re: Dangerous, stupid and highly illegal"

"I suspect this increasing stream of reports in the press will be followed by banning them entirely."

That's already happened in Australia. Several years ago the government banned all laser pointers over 1 mW, except for members of registered astronomy clubs. You have to prove membership in such a club to be able to import a >1 mW laser pointer, and there's a safety training course you have to complete to be qualified to use one.

Essentially the safety course warns about never pointing them at aircraft, always checking to see if there are any aircraft in the vicinity you're aiming at before operating the pointer, and being aware of high-altitude ice scattering the beam in ways that aren't always visible from the ground, etc.

They're classed as Category A firearms, which I thought was actually quite cool - I'd been waiting since I was a kid for the sci-fi moment when laser guns would be recognised officially as weapons!

But of course that means that if you are caught in possession of one without an astronomy-club exemption you get charged with possession of an illegal and unregistered firearm - which in this country is a serious and imprisonable offence.

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Ransomware-as-a-service surfaces, wants 10 percent profit cut

Steven Roper
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Re: Death to these perps

I hope that attitude doesn't extend to me though. I say this because, while that AC is not me, I know I've posted some pretty vitriolic death-wishes on scamming scumbags myself in my years here - all on the same account I signed up here with in about 2007 or somewhere thereabouts. Compared to some of the things I've posted I'd like to do to scammers, that AC is actually pretty tame. The main difference is I put my name to my rantings when discussing such matters.

Perhaps that AC has had multiple troll accounts and has posted far worse things using them, and perhaps that's what prompted your response. I don't have your mod's-eye view of the commentards here, so I can't judge that. But I think also that you journalists write these things to stir up strong emotions, because that's how you get views and comments. So why do you act so surprised when people express strong emotions to stories you've written specifically to elicit just such a response?

There's a reason we in the El Reg reader community refer to ourselves as "commentards." The word in itself is a humourously self-deprecating statement about the readership you've garnered with your particular style of reporting. I know, because I am one!

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Steven Roper
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Oh, THAT kind of ransomware

When I saw the words "Ransomware" and "as-a-service" I thought you were talking about Windows 10 and Microsoft's new business model.

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Big Bang left us with a perfect random number generator

Steven Roper
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Re: but but

It's God's final message to His creation.

Decrypted, it reads: "WE APOLOGISE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE"

After much research involving sufficient quantities of alcohol I was able to deduce that the CMB is actually the number 42 repeated over and over, encoded using conventional Vogon accounting enumeration, XORed with standard Galactic Eezeereed.

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Obama: Let me spam 600,000 of your customers with a TPP sales pitch. eBay: Sure thing, Barry!

Steven Roper
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Re: Can Obama be added to the ISP email blacklist?

Even better, report it to Spamhaus.

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US Congress grants leftpondians the right to own asteroid booty

Steven Roper
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"Um, what's the point of offering ownership rights if it's not got sovereignty?"

My thought is it's along the line of an exclusive-importation rights deal. Suppose MegaMining Corp lays claim to Apophis, and goes out there with some mining equipment, and then ChinaMiner Corp sends their own guys and gear out there, MegaMining Corp is the only one allowed to sell material mined from Apophis, or any item manufactured from said material, in the USA. Such a law would then make it not worthwhile for ChinaMiner to go and mine Apophis since they wouldn't be allowed to sell anything made from the ore in the USA.

So while neither corporation "owns" Apophis per se, only MegaMining could expect to get any ROI from going out there since they have exclusive importation rights.

Although it would be interesting to see how they'd police and enforce sourcing, given the difficulties we have now of preventing things like conflict diamonds and warlord-funding tantalum from leaking into the world market.

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Google bows to inevitable, stops forcing Google+ logins on YouTubers

Steven Roper
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Re: I wonder how many of those have actually used it seriously for an extended period?

"Forcing people to do something always initiates a negative emotional reaction in people."

Which is exactly why I never embraced it. That and Google's dismal track record in pulling the plug on useful services after people get used to using them. The loss of the iGoogle portal page with its neat little widgets, which had been my startup page for ages, convinced me never to let myself become reliant on Google services again.

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Stoned train in multi-million-dollar wreck

Steven Roper
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I thought trains had several mechanisms in place to prevent them being driven over and above just a key. Further, starting a train isn't like starting a car, just turn the key and go. You have to lap the brakes and pressurise the lines, back up to de-stress the couplings, and a number of other procedures before the train will go.

As I understood it, each driver also has his own brake handle which he attaches to the brake post when he starts up, and without which the train won't move. Then there's the deadman device, which is usually a pedal or button that has to be pressed every minute or so, otherwise the train assumes the driver is incapacitated and automatically applies the brakes.

So these guys not only broke the lock, they must have got a brake handle or something that could function as one from somewhere, and also known about the deadman device, in addition to knowing the rest of the starting procedures. They knew enough about trains to figure all that out, but didn't know about the signalling system or ATPS (which is what would have derailed the train.)

I'd suspect someone who either knows a train driver or someone who wanted to be one but failed the qualifications.

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UN privacy head slams 'worse than scary' UK surveillance bill

Steven Roper
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The more I think about all this

the more I realise my problem is not so much about my data being private, but with analytics and prediction based on it. Just as I have no problem with cameras or people taking pictures of me, but I do have a problem with things like facial-recognition software.

It's not the possession of the data that is so much the issue as the assumptions and judgements that people make based on it. If I knew that my data would just sit unexamined in some secured (and safely air-gapped) government archive and only examined when it is needed in connection with a crime that has been committed I'd have a lot less problem with it.

But when authorities start using predictive software and analytics on my data to try to second-guess whether or not I'm going do something wrong, that I have a big fucking problem with. Minority Report style "pre-crime" methodologies are NEVER acceptable in any free society. You cannot make accurate judgements about my identity or behaviour based on analysis of my past actions, because any such judgement is invariably based on statistics and worse, stereotypes. It does not take into account the unique experiences of my life, my personality, and why I choose to do or say the things I do.

We need to outlaw the use of identifying analytics and predictive algorithms on retained data, and insert requirements to keep such data out of reach unless it can be shown before a judge or magistrate that that particular data has some relation to an already committed crime. Otherwise we abrogate any right to call ourselves a free society.

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Get an Apple Watch or die warns Tim Cook

Steven Roper
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So?

I would rather die than buy an Apple product in any event!

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Facebook brings creepy ’Minority Report’-style ads one step closer

Steven Roper
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Hmmm, I didn't see any advert.

I'm not sure which component of my internet armamentarium is responsible for shielding me from that one, although I rather suspect Ghostery is behind stopping YouTube ads more than AdBlock Edge, BetterPrivacy, RemoveItPermanently, uBlock Origin, Self-Destructing Cookies, Disconnect or NoScript.

So all I can suggest is installing all of the above and hope that one of them does the job - if you don't mind cruising around the information superhighway in what amounts to an Abrams tank!

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OmniRAT malware scurrying into Android, PC, Mac, Linux systems

Steven Roper
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May I suggest to the person who disagrees with me, that you should pay a visit to Australia sometime, and spend a week or two around the farms during grain harvest. I think the experience would make you rather less defensive of our little rodent friends!

Want to see an example if you have a strong stomach?

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Steven Roper
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"Only someone who's never had a problem with rodent vermin would want to own one as a pet..."

Damn straight. I have two cats for precisely that reason!

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Cryptowall 4.0: Update makes world's worst ransomware worse still

Steven Roper
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Re: Hunt the bastards down and publicly execute them

"But what if they transfer their ill-gotten gains directly to charity?"

Well, firstly for some reason I doubt they do. Second, even if they did, it doesn't excuse blackmailing people with ransomware. To argue a charitable cause as a justification for such vile behaviour is treading perilously close to ends justifying means.

"wanting humans dissected for public entertainment is beyond sociopathic and into psychopathic land."

Or the product of a mind that has been reading too many George R.R. Martin novels lately... ;)

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Steven Roper
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Hunt the bastards down and publicly execute them

Time to bring back public gibbetings and perhaps introduce live human dissections posted to YouTube. These fucking worthless sociopathic parasites serve no good use to humanity whatsoever. They can't be redeemed or rehabilitated. They are vermin, and they should be exterminated, like vermin.

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One Bitcoin or lose your data, hacked Linux sysadmins told

Steven Roper
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"That said, bitcoin is very traceable, far less anonymous than cash."

If that's the case then why are there no stories about people hunting these ransomware scammers down for the purpose of peeling their fingernails off one by one?

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Judge bins Apple Store end-of-shift shakedown lawsuit

Steven Roper
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Re: No one really grumbled back then

" I worked at the Pit but not underground as a mechanic. This was regarded as a big step up."

Looxury.

When I whur a lad I 'ad to git oop at 11 o'clock at night 'alf an hour afore I went to bed...

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Oz insurer offers Basis breathing-bangle-for-your-data swap

Steven Roper
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Re: Possibilities

Until the buggers build in IR scanning and DNA sampling to verify that a real live human is attached to the thing.

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Linus Torvalds targeted by honeytraps, claims Eric S. Raymond

Steven Roper
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"Sorry, but I just can't take anybody who uses the phrase "SJW" unironically seriously."

That's most likely because you are one, in which case going by the the majority of comments and upvote/downvote ratios in this thread, not many people would take you seriously either.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Worse for women?

Actually their academic pretzel-think is very simple; once you strip away the political game-playing, weaselling and manipulative bullshit, it really all just boils down to, "If you're male, you're wrong and deserve to be punished because you're to blame for every nasty thing men have ever done to women."

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Drones are dropping drugs into prisons and the US govt just doesn't know what to do

Steven Roper
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Re: Extreme solution

GitMeMyShootinIrons, meet Captain Jean-Luc Picard:

"I don't know how to communicate this, or even if it is possible. But the question of justice has concerned me greatly of late, and I say to any creature who may be listening, there can be no justice so long as laws are absolute. Even life itself is an exercise in exceptions."

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New Horizons makes last burn for Kuiper Belt target

Steven Roper
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Have the New Horizons team got a Kickstarter?

I'd be more than happy to toss some of my hard-earned in their general direction, and I'm sure a lot of other science geeks would as well.

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Condi Rice, ICANN, and millions paid to lobby the US govt for total internet control

Steven Roper
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Re: Bloody Hell!

Fortensplibe's reaction likely has little to do with the fact that they are women and more to do with them both being greedy power-grubbing politicians - and in my view even more so for people hiding them behind the gender card to shield them from criticism.

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Australian government hiring guardians of retained metadata

Steven Roper
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"...but it's nice to think that someone's on the ball."

No it's not. What we need is for these incompetent buffoons to run around like chooks with their heads cut off, passing the buck from department to department, until the entire damnable metadata retention scheme blows out costs and problems like Krakatoa and comes down around their bloody ears!

These days basic civil liberties ride on ensuring the politicians are so busy tying each other up in knots that nothing ever gets done and the people get left alone. That's exactly why in every election I always vote for opposing parties in the Upper and Lower Houses (Liberal Senate, Labor Parliament or vice versa) - precisely so that any new bills proposed by the Lower House are more likely to get blocked by a hostile Senate, thus leaving things as they are and preserving what few fucking freedoms we have left!

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Biggest problem with virtual reality: It can be a little too real for people

Steven Roper
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Re: A cable connected to the brain is what is needed...

Yep. This is the real tragedy of technology.

When I was younger I used to fantasise about full-immersion VR. The worlds I'd create! I'd be like Reginald Barclay from Star Trek - I'd never come out of the holodeck! I'd be willing to spend my whole life in there, building my perfect world.

Now? No fucking way. Not with the way the likes of Google or Microsoft or Facebook will implement it, every thought, every action monitored and profiled and fed through analytics software in order to milk every last possible penny out of me, or to "treat my illness" if my fantasies stray too far from normative ideals.

It was a beautiful dream, as usual ruined by human greed and opportunism.

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'I posted winning race ticket in Facebook selfie ... and someone stole it!'

Steven Roper
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Re: Maybe it's for the best...

That's part of Melbourne Cup culture - the women all compete to see who can front up in the most elaborate and outlandish headgear!

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PC sales will rise again, predicts Intel, but tablets are toast

Steven Roper
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Re: Get real!

"Yep. That's definitely paranoia."

Yep. That's definitely arrogance.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Get real!

"50's paranoia. It's grrrrrrreat!"

You know, I used to hate smugness. That was until I got the joy of saying "I told you so" to all you head-burying ostriches that love using that word "paranoid" every time someone expresses concern about erosion of liberties and destruction of privacy, until the reality hits home and the chickens come in to roost. Then when the cops are turning your house upside down because a microphone in your smart TV picked up somebody saying something suspicious, I'll smile smugly and say "I told you so. You called me paranoid, but I fucking told you so. You deserve this."

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Boffins: We know what KILLED the DINOS – and it wasn't just an asteroid

Steven Roper
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"So what lies at the other side of the Earth of the Ontong Java Eruption"

The antipode of Java is Colombia and Venezuela, and I don't think there are any major impact craters there. However it doesn't follow that even if the Deccan super-eruption was triggered by an impact shockwave, that all super-eruptions are. If that were the case you'd also have to start wondering what was opposite the Yellowstone supervolcano (whose antipode is in the southern Indian Ocean near the French Southern & Antarctic Islands) and the New Zealand supervolcano (whose antipode is in Portugal.) So clearly while the Deccan supervolcano may have been influenced by the KT impactor, the others likely had different causes.

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Anti-adblocker firm PageFair's users hit by fake Flash update

Steven Roper
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Re: NoScript

"That is why I do use NoScript and get it to block 3rd party (often == advertisers) javascript."

The problem with NoScript these days though is that too many sites fetch content from fifty different domains to build the page. So you Allow for the main domain, and nothing happens except NoScript reloads with a two-screen-high list of domains the site also wants you to Allow in order to see anything at all.

What needs to happen is a campaign (the people behind NoScript would be a prime driver for this) to let these bastards know that they're losing serious traffic because of this. Whenever I see a site that refuses to show me any content unless I enable Javascript for two dozen different trackers, I simply abandon it. That site has lost my traffic and any potential future business I might have brought. It also ends up on my blocklist so I never go there again.

We need to let website owners know that this practice is unacceptable. We need to show them that it is costing them customers and traffic, and that their losses will only get worse. We need to send the lazy and incompetent buffoons passing themselves off as "web developers" these days the message to do the bloody work they're paid to do and set up the site properly on a single domain, instead of just throwing together a five-minute mashup of calls to half the internet fetching libraries and frameworks to do their job for them.

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What upgrade cycle? Tablet sales crater for fourth straight quarter

Steven Roper
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Re: Ok, cool.

Speaking from a web development perspective I couldn't agree more.

I remember we in the industry spent years proselytising Firefox and installing it on the computers of all and sundry to force Microsoft to bring IE into line with the W3C standards, because every website had to be developed twice: once for W3C, and again for IE, which doubled the time and cost of development.

We eventually won that battle, and there were a brief, glorious few halcyon years where we could design a website ONCE under W3C and it would work everywhere. It was a truly joyous time.

And then Apple and Samsung came along and fucked it all up by shoving fondleslabs and smartphones in everyone's faces. At first it was a non-issue; but a few years ago mobile/slab traffic became significant enough to warrant being factored into the design specs.

Which took us straight back to the bad old W3C vs IE days: we went back to having to design every website twice again, this time one for desktop and one for mobiles. Grrrrrrrrr!

No wonder I have hardly any hair left, and what there is has gone gray!

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Aussies' distinctive Strine down to drunk forefathers

Steven Roper
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As an Australian...

I have to point out that you've neglected the vital fact that besides the dropped consonants and vowel changes, we also often run all our words together in rapid-fire machine-gun bursts of speech.

What does real "Strine" sound like?

"Ge'aahvityafikbastidanavabludygoyamug!"

= "Get out of it you thick bastard, and have a bloody go, you mug!"

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Oracle's Hurd mentality: We (and one other) will own all of cloud by 2025

Steven Roper
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Regardless of who owns all of cloud, they will own my data over my rotting corpse.

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Preparing for IoT? Ask some old questions and plenty of new ones

Steven Roper
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I decided the IoT would never have a place in my house the moment I read this Reg article about smart light bulbs and how the company selling them was climbing on the rentism/ransom business model for $10 a month.

So, three reasons why IoT will never be allowed in any house I live in:

1. Security risks of being hacked and having everything in my house turned against me.

2. Being nickel-and-dimed into bankruptcy by 350 different Ransom-as-a-Service subscriptions required every month just to keep everything going.

3. The inevitable spying, monitoring and profiling for the purposes of everything from exploitative advertising to being put on pre-crime watchlists that will go with it.

Fuck that shit and the bastards' backs it rode in on.

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Snakes in the aircon, killer crocs in the river, virtualisation for apps

Steven Roper
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Re: I can relate to Scott's experience

"No decent Indian Takeaways in the capitals either..."

If you're in Adelaide, Beyond India does a good arse-burning vindaloo, along with a decent range of other Indian goodies. They also do home delivery if you live within about 6 km of the city or Modbury areas for when you don't feel like going out to eat.

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Court to Wikimedia: Your NSA spying evidence is inadmissable, so you can't prove NSA spying

Steven Roper
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Re: Get a big broom, judge!

I did the same maths as you when I read that, and translated it into real-world terms: it comes out to about 15 20' shipping containers' worth of sand, so a fair sized convoy of semi-trailers and a bloody big hole in the beach that a great many beachgoers, not to mention the shire council responsible for its upkeep, would definitely notice!

For the maths geeks:

20' shipping container = 12.051 m x 2.34 m x 2.38 m = 67.11 m3

Assuming 1 mm3 per sand grain, 1000 mm x 1000 mm x 1000 mm = 1 m3 = 1 billion grains of sand, so 1 trillion grains of sand = 1000 m3.

1000 m3 / 67.11 m3 = 14.9 shipping containers.

Assuming a density of about 1600 kgm-3 for dry packed sand, that's about 1600 metric tonnes of sand (for our American friends, 1764 short tons.)

Sources:

Volume of a shipping container

Density of sand

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If MR ROBOT was realistic, he’d be in an Iron Maiden t-shirt and SMELL of WEE

Steven Roper
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"But their portrayals of female hackers as muslims or S&M lesbians was a bit much."

That was so overdone that it passed beyond the bounds of social-justice intrusiveness into pure, concentrated hilarity.

It was as if someone played "let's see how many token minorities we can compress into a single character!" So we end up with the ultimate political-correctness singularity: a female Muslim ethnic-Arab transsexual lesbian mute computer whiz, which just about covers every possible base - sex, religion, race, gender identity, sexuality, disability, and profession.

It was so far over the top that when this character first appeared and was introduced as such to Elliot, my friend and I were folded over on the floor in stitches!

Whoever came up with this character wasn't pandering to political correctness. They were taking the absolute piss out of it. And they pulled it off in such a way that the usual horde of habitual offence-takers didn't utter a bloody word of complaint. In this day and age, that was an undisputed masterstroke of genius!

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Defeated HP will put Helion cloud out of its misery in January 2016

Steven Roper
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"Still not being clear then. WTF does "sunset" mean in that context?"

It means that if you were relying on them for your data storage needs you're going to lose all your data if you don't find someone else to store it, and go through the hassle of copying it all over to your new provider - which if it is GBs or TBs worth, is going to take some time and cost quite a bit of bandwidth.

Which is one major reason why my company doesn't use cloud services, and never will, no matter how much the snake-oil salesmen push it on us.

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Google's YouTube Red deal: Sign, or we'll make you disappear

Steven Roper
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WTF?

" Google Play subscribers will be opted in, ..."

And that shit is exactly why I don't have any credit card or payment method associated with my Google account or my Android phone.

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CISA blowup: 'Web giants sharing private info isn't about security – it's state surveillance'

Steven Roper
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Big Brother

Re: @Steven Roper The US goverment is slitting its country's own throat

"Perhaps passing this bill *will* encourage "alternatives" to the Silicon Valley tech companies and so reduce their influence. Why do you have problems with that?"

I don't have any problems with it at all; actually I'm all for it. It would be much better for privacy and security if every country did have its own search and social media hosted within its own borders in addition to the global giants.

The globalism of the internet has advantages as well as disadvantages. For example, the internet have made it possible for me to find and communicate with my cousins, aunts and uncles in the UK who I hadn't seen since emigrating to Australia decades ago - I've never been great at writing letters, but email and social media means I've been able to stay in touch.

But that same globalism has concentrated unspeakable wealth and power into the hands of a few multinational players - players whose home legal jurisdictions mostly fall within the purview of what I consider to be the most dangerous regime to arise since the Third Reich. Godwin be damned, most people here including many Americans themselves know I'm right about this. History is repeating itself and the US government is spearheading the revival.

So my original statement was made from the point of view of one of those players - that the US government is undermining their global business model, not from my own point of view. I was wondering why the US government seems so hell-bent on undermining what amounts to its own global internet powerbase, because their actions seem counterproductive to their goals. Why are they doing that? What am I missing here? I apologise if my post didn't make that clearer.

In the end, I do wonder what difference it would make if intranational Google and Facebook alternatives were set up, even if people did start using them instead of the multinationals. The Australian government is every bit as intrusive and tyrannical as the US government is, not to mention the EU, and no doubt such alternatives would still be privacy nightmares, regardless of whether it's the FBI/NSA or ASIO/AFP or GCHQ/MI5 who snoops my data - they all share it among themselves anyway (look up Five Eyes if you haven't already.)

Ultimately the only way to approach this is to assume that everything you put on the Internet is visible to anyone who really wants to see it. As the venerable Orwell so aptly put it:

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

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Steven Roper
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The US goverment is slitting its country's own throat

Senator Wyden is right on the ball. It looks to me like the US government is doing everything it possibly can to undermine global trust in American businesses. The EU is already looking to establish EU-controlled alternatives to Silicon Valley giants over data privacy and security issues; other nations are doing likewise, and this is simply going to push them away all the harder.

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'Facebook for drones' Altitude Angel offers 'cloud' air traffic control

Steven Roper
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That's not what I was taught "cloud" meant

Given that what used to be called a “publicly accessible database”, is now called “the Cloud”

I believe "cloud" refers to a network structure, not a database.

ISTR from my college IT course in networking that "cloud" simply referred to an unknown network - that is, any part of a network topology outside of your direct administrative influence, ergo not under your control. Generally that was taken to mean the internet.

For example, if your network existed in multiple physical locations connected by lines not owned or exclusively leased by your organisation, then the links between the locations were shown as passing through an "internet cloud" to indicate that any network traffic through that section was passing through unknown or undefined infrastructure not under your control, therefore not secure. The "cloud" symbol thus illustrated areas where a VPN or SSL was needed to secure data passing though the unknown network.

That's why the symbol was a cloud, to indicate a nebulous, chaotic entity in your network topology to be considered a weakness or vulnerability requiring resolution from a security auditing perspective. The cloud symbolised an issue of data and network control, not public accessibility.

As far as I'm concerned, that's still what the cloud represents.

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