* Posts by Steven Roper

1389 posts • joined 10 May 2011

We're from the SAME DUST CLOUD, BRO: Boffins find Sun's long-lost sibling

Steven Roper
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Re: Interesting

Or you could install Celestia and actually fly right up to it. Although there's not a whole lot to look at...

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GM reveals how much you'll pay to turn your car into a rolling 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot

Steven Roper
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I'd love to see them try this in Australia

where a sizeable percentage of holiday drives consist of two days crossing vast stretches of bumfuck nowhere that would do justice to Arrakis, in which mobile phone coverage, let alone 3G or 4G, exists to about the same degree as Star Trek transporter coverage.

I can picture it now: Leave the house in Adelaide at 5 AM, kids promptly go back to sleep, wake up in Port Pirie for breakfast at 8, kids quietly watch TV in the back seat until you hit Port Augusta around 9:30, and after that it's out into Mad-Max-land for the rest of the trip.

Cue cries of "DAAAAAD! My tablet's not working any mooooore! My cartoon keeps dropping out!" "No, and it isn't going to work now until we get to Perth/Alice/Darwin/wherever tomorrow night"*

"Awwwwww!... Are we there yet?....are we there yet?...are we there yet?..."

Or you could just fly.

*or in the case of Adelaide - Perth, the night after that.

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Hey, does your Smart TV have a mic? Enjoy your surveillance, bro

Steven Roper
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@John Sanders Re: Which is why…

Which is why I will never EVER connect a washing machine/fridge/microwave/over to a network.

I'm with you on that one. Even Orwell never imagined the subtlety and depth of surveillance that computers and the internet make possible. He never imagined face-recognition and voice-recognition software, for starters, or that tiny cameras could be hidden in every household device (although he did imagine microphones hidden in trees in the countryside!)

While you're keeping your devices' cables disconnected, ensure they can't connect to any wifi either. My own wifi is not only secured with WPA2 and a passkey whose length would do justice to Hamlet's soliloquy, I also have MAC filtering turned on so a device has to be authorised at the router as well as given the passkey.

The other danger is to ensure any other wifi connections detectable from your house are also secured - if a neighbour has an unsecured wifi, offer to secure it for them (I did this with the guy upstairs at no charge; after explaining to him that anyone could connect to his router and steal his internet connection, he was quite happy for me to set up WPA2 for him.) This will ensure that your devices don't go phoning home on someone else's wifi.

Finally, the remaining problem is things like citywide public wifi, or the free wifi offered by places like Starbucks, McDonald's et. al. if there's one near you. This problem is only going to get worse in future. Here in Adelaide, Internode already offers free wifi accessible throughout the CBD, and it won't be long before it pervades the suburbs too. Given that these damned devices tend to automatically leap onto the first available unsecured wifi they can find, this is becoming a very real danger. Once that shit reaches my area, I'm going to be seriously looking at Faraday-shielding my apartment.

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Why two-player games > online gaming: See your pal's shock as you bag a last-second victory

Steven Roper
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Re: Must be the hippy in me...

Yes, teaching one's siblings' kids the finer points of gutter elocution is one of the small pleasures that make life worth living. My nieces and nephew (my sister's kids) all received their first tuition in pottymouth prosody at the hands of me and my brother at an early age, much to my sister's lasting annoyance.

But back on topic: Bubble Bobble (the Amiga version) has a lot of history with me and my friends as well.

But our best memories are of Gloom (the Amiga's answer to Wolfenstein) which introduced a new and evil pleasure: the map editor. I designed a particularly fiendish map which was laid out as follows: There was a central "safe room" with six switches and a door that could be opened only from the inside. Surrounding this was a large central "atrium" with a stack of powerups and weapon upgrades. Around the outside of this atrium were six doors, which opened into side chambers, each packed with a massive horde of monsters. Each door was linked to a corresponding switch in the safe room. The spawn points were located in a separate closed off room with two teleport triggers. I had a tiny one-shot teleport trigger in front of my spawn point, and a larger repeating teleport in front of my friend's. Hitting my teleport would zap me into the safe room, in which I could trip the switches at leisure and watch out the windows in perfect safety as my friend had to rush around gathering powerups and fighting off packs of monsters. I'd time the release of the switches so he'd have scant seconds to get the next powerup before having to deal with the next monster rush.

It didn't take him long to figure out that by jumping forward left at the instant of spawning, he could snatch my teleport from under my nose if I was a fraction tardy about moving myself. The first time he did this, his revenge was to open every switch in the safe room at once, burying me under a unstoppable avalanche of monsters that tore me to shreds in seconds. My cries of "You fucking bastard, I never did that to you!" were drowned out by his howls of maniacal laughter.

The rest of my map designs were... rather fairer.

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Nintendo says sorry, but there will be NO gay marriage in Tomodachi Life ... EVER

Steven Roper
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That depends on what the "liberal : conservative" ratio is. LGBT couples and their supporters may well boycott Nintendo for "intolerance", but by the same token conservatives may well end up supporting it for promoting "traditional family values." If a load of conservative families buy the game for their kids on those grounds, that could pretty much undermine the liberal boycott.

It would be interesting to set up a marketing experiment along these lines: Set up two shelf companies that have no immediately apparent connection to each other, and have each release a variant version of the same game. One that conforms to liberal values, and one that conforms to conservative values, and see which one sells more copies and which generates the bigger shitstorm.

I'd put money on this being the outcome: the conservative version would attract the loudest howls of indignation from the mass media, calls for boycotts and demands for censorship from the liberals, even though the liberal version would actually sell marginally more copies.

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SMASH AND GRAB iThieves run car through front of Berkeley's Apple Store

Steven Roper
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Alert

Hasn't El Reg heard of ramraiding before?

Here in sunny Australia, ne'er-do-wells got the idea of crashing cars through shop windows and emptying their contents back in the 90s. The attack was so effective, and thus became so commonplace, that the term "ramraiding" was coined to describe it - and it's the reason why so many outdoor strip-shops here have installed concrete ramraid bollards out the front to prevent the practice.

Looks like the craze has finally caught on over there. For once we Australians aren't the ones 20 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to achieving something. Although I do appreciate the irony of that something being a criminal activity, given our benighted nation's history...

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Japanese cops arrest man with five 3D printed guns at home

Steven Roper
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Re: Error:

Why would it need a radio transmitter specially linked to police when it could just notify them over your internet connection or WiFi?

Although I could see some cracking potential in digging out and exploiting the exact URL/IP address/email address it would use to contact the police...

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Steven Roper
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Error:

"The object you are attempting to print looks like a firing pin. Printing such items is prohibited under the Restriction of Printed Firearms Act. In accordance with this Act, law enforcement in your area have been notified of this attempt. Please remain at your current location and wait for police to arrive."

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Steven Roper
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Joke

Re: Boot strapping

I'll wait until they shrink the RepRap to microscopic proportions and develop a means for it to refine its printing resin from any available organic material. Then I shall unleash it upon the world and laugh maniacally as civilisation is consumed under a flood of grey goo, MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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Steven Roper
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You also have to consider aspects of Japanese culture that differ greatly from our own. Like most Asiatic cultures, the Japanese revere their ancestors with a profundity unmatched by any Western equivalent. We may remember deceased grandparents fondly, but the Japanese elevate them almost to the status of gods.

So convicting a dead man of a crime inflicts dishonour upon his standing as a revered ancestor and therefore also upon his living descendants. Essentially, as a previous poster has pointed out, it sends a message to his family, and also discourages others from committing the same crime in a way people used to Western social mores may find difficult to comprehend.

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Traffic light vulns leave doors wide open to Italian Job-style hacks

Steven Roper
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Another reason for stalling traffic flow

you guys may not have considered is government fuel excise revenue.

Some years ago, a friend of mine worked out how much petrol he used sitting at stop-lights on an average working day, totted up how much that cost, factored in the percentage of fuel excise and multiplied that by the number of cars on the road in our city (Adelaide, Australia - about 1.2 million people.)

It turned out that at the (then) price of around $1.00 per litre of which around 60c is government taxes and excises, using about 3-5 litres per week idling at lights, by 400,000 cars, comes out to $0.60 * (3 to 5) * 400,000 = between $720 K to $1.2 million per week or between $37.44 million and $62.4 million per year in revenue just from traffic stopped at lights. And that's just from a small, relatively trafficable city like Adelaide, back when petrol was only $1 per litre (it's now around $1.80.) I'll leave it to the El Reg readership to imagine what those figures would be like for a major city the size of London...

That kind of money is definitely enough to capture the attention of government beancounters. Which no doubt means that said beancounters have some say in how the stop-lights are sequenced in order to maximise revenue from petrol wastage.

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Actual spin doctors eye up ALIEN WORLD Beta Pictoris b: Young, hot ... and really FAST

Steven Roper
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If it's that big, and spinning that fast, can I safely assume that aliens get flicked off if they go near the equator?

Obligatory xkcd: http://what-if.xkcd.com/92/

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US officials vote to allow Bitcoin for political donations

Steven Roper
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it should be a publicly available rate of Bitcoins traded for dollars on a high-volume public Bitcoin exchange that is open to transactions within the United States

Translation: "We want lobbyists to be able to donate anonymously to political parties to hide their involvement, but we want to be able to spy on everyone else and strip that anonymity away for the general public at the same time."

So more of the usual "one law for us, another for everyone else" then. Oh well. It was good while it lasted.

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China 'in discussions' about high-speed rail lines to London, Germany – and the US

Steven Roper
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Awesome idea if they can pull it off, but building something on that scale would have to be a multi-country effort. And aside from the engineering difficulties of tunnelling under the Bering Strait, of as much gravity perhaps are the risks of running a high-speed railway through all those countries whose names end in "-stan" - known to harbour elements with a penchant for targeting transport infrastructure to demonstrate their beliefs regarding holy retribution...

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Web cesspit 4chan touts '$20 bug bounty' after hackers ruin Moot's day

Steven Roper
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Re: I think it's a bit harsh

Stirring shit that doesn't need to be stirred.

You mean expressing opinions you don't think should be allowed to be expressed by the sounds of it.

You've completely missed my point. You can't just decide, "This is how the world should be and anyone who doesn't agree should be denied a voice", because it becomes like a dam - pressure builds up, people get angry, and it culminates in an explosion of violence. This has happened too often in history to be safely ignored. No matter how noble your intentions, no matter how "civilised" you consider your mode of existence, any attempt to impose that mode of existence by fiat on others inevitably ends in bloodshed and tyranny.

I get that you don't like some of the thoughts aired on 4chan. But at least we know those thoughts exist. 4chan is routinely monitored by several countries' law enforcers these days for just this reason - so they can spot potential sources of unrest and prepare for them. And it provides a valuable insight into potential social problems. Are a lot of people posting angrily about some issue on 4chan? Then that's a social issue that needs to be confronted and addressed.

Learn to see and use it for what it is, rather than just stomping on it because some of the topics posted there offend your sensibilities. Attitudes like that are exactly why society needs 4chan and sites like it.

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Steven Roper
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Re: I think it's a bit harsh

I never said it was in good fun. And I'm sorry about your friends who fell foul of the less savoury exponents of 4chan.

But that in no way diminishes the validity of the social function 4chan serves or the cultural safety-valve it represents. Unfortunately, freedom can bring with it risks and dangers, and sometimes people get hurt. That's a fact of life. And it is the actions of people who demand safety at any cost, even at the expense of freedom, that have created the kind of world in which sites like 4chan are necessary.

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Steven Roper
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Stop

I think it's a bit harsh

to call the reward "stingy" when moot is pretty much funding 4chan out of his own pocket. Despite the site's infamous popularity, it's not exactly making him a fortune. The site's notoriety and reputation for unshackled political incorrectness means that most companies are reluctant to advertise on it, so moot's stuck with the porn ad dollar and member passes as his sole source of revenue. Which can't be much after he's paid for bandwidth, hosting, maintenance and service costs, so he probably can't offer thousands of dollars as an incentive. Instead he's relying on the hearts and support of those who understand 4chan and its social function.

4chan fulfils a vital need for freedom of expression on the internet. In an age when expressing politically incorrect opinions can destroy careers and even lives, there needs to exist an outlet free from the restraints of identity, where people can both vent their anger without fear of backlash, and debate issues that in conventional arenas are soon drowned out in howling accusations of bigotry and privilege.

For despite the sheer volume of shit infesting 4chan, I've participated in some interesting and intelligent discussions with people there - discussions which were only possible because of the anonymity that enabled honest expression of opinion, rather than having everyone hide behind a mask of fear to avoid ruining their careers or lives because their expressed opinions could be tied to their real identities.

As long as sanctimonious and hypocritical do-gooders can use the power of social media to ram their political agendas down everyone's throats, destroying the careers, reputations and lives of anyone who disagrees with them, claiming freedom of speech while rationalising their denial of it to others with specious justifications, there exists a need for sites like 4chan where people can share their views anonymously without fear.

Yes, it is a cesspit. But we all need somewhere to shit.

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Speaking in Tech: 'I get told to wear makeup by other women'

Steven Roper
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Re: The most likely reason for the filthy joke metric

But what bugs me is when a woman has to start taking on exaggerated culturally male behaviours to offset that she is a woman.

Believe it or not, I do understand your frustration on that level. Being viewed as a woman rather than a professional when there is work to be done is indeed demeaning. I understand this very well because there are times when I equally resent being viewed as a man rather than a professional. Like the time when I was installing an IT system for a school and had to be accompanied everywhere in case I did something unspeakable to the children, despite undergoing extensive police checks and "don't do this, this or this" training. I felt demeaned by the assumptions implicit in this treatment, so I do understand how it must feel to be viewed as a sex object when you're just trying to get a job done.

So I agree on that front. Women should not have to compensate for being women any more then men should have to compensate for being men. Unfortunately it is human nature that we are all judged by our gender and while we are sorting out the issues we all have to deal with it as best we can.

Also, guys shouldn't feel threatened by the presence of women in the workplace so that special reassurances are required.

Absolutely. But a large part of the reason for feeling threatened is because, as I've mentioned elsewhere, a moment's lapse of thoughtlessness can ruin a career. In some cases a word out of place or even a look in the wrong direction at the wrong time can touch off a shitstorm. When everyone is so uptight about not offending the wrong person it creates an atmosphere of distrust and fear, which not only damages productivity but causes personal and psychological harm to all sides as well. Maybe if the social-justice crowd were less fanatical and more forgiving of slip-ups this problem would sort itself out given time.

It takes time to change thought patterns ingrained by centuries of social inertia. Think of it as being like a non-Newtonian fluid; if you stir it slowly, it remains runny as milk, but try to change it rapidly it becomes like cement. We've radically altered male and female outlooks within one generation. Many people are now unsure of where they stand or what is expected of them. To set those expectations in an atmosphere of dire punishment for the slightest infraction is going to turn a lot of people against the new paradigms. That's what "backlash" means. That's what enables misogynists and racists to claim victimhood, and it sets back all the achievements gained by equality campaigners over the last few decades. Which is a tragedy.

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Steven Roper
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Re: men get told every day to conform

It is unlikely anyone is going to look at you as a man and say or think: "men don't make good programmers". It's still not that uncommon to encounter someone who thinks that of you as a woman.

I might point out that works both ways.

It is unlikely anyone is going to look at you as a woman and say or think: "women don't make good childcarers". It's still not that uncommon to encounter someone who thinks that of you as a man*.

(*since many people are much more ready to consider a man a potential rapist or paedophile and therefore a danger to children than a woman. Unfortunately both sexes have to deal with their particular forms of bigotry.)

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Steven Roper
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Re: men get told every day to conform

Oh please, if you're a white male you're playing the game of life on easy level.

Claiming that, because most privileged people are white males therefore all white males are privileged, is the same thing as claiming that because most boy-buggerers are gay therefore all gays must be boy-buggerers. People like you who rant the loudest about the evils of stereotypes are the first ones to employ them when it suits your agenda, which makes you hypocrites of the worst stripe.

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Steven Roper
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The most likely reason for the filthy joke metric

I've never seen why the willingness to tell a filthy joke is the metric by which a woman proves herself acceptable in the workplace.

Most likely that social more has come about so that everyone knows that the woman is "safe" to relax and crack jokes around - in other words, it shows that she's not an Adria Richards who's willing to destroy her colleagues' careers by getting all offended when someone utters a harmless innuendo.

Given the virulence with which the politically correct punish people for having a sense of humour or even momentary lapses of thoughtlessness, it seems that some way of knowing where one stands with one's colleagues is necessary. This "metric" seems to be one such way.

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Star Wars Episode VII: The Ancient Fear of, er, a CHEESE-TASTIC title?

Steven Roper
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Re: My worst fear about the new SW movie

I need to find a way to AVOID all the coming hype for the next couple of years until it's released!

That's not as hard as it seems. I've managed to shield myself very effectively from goss, hype, viral marketing and and even advertising for many years now. I've been able to watch Game of Thrones, for example, without falling victim to the spoiler trolls (well, I did get spoiled for the Season 1 shocker but that taught me to avoid all online discussions of the show thereafter.)

Here's how you do it in 5 simple steps:

1. If you have TV reception in your house, get rid of it. No TV. Ever. No matter what. Even if Vladimir Putin declares war on the whole of Europe and is about to nuke all England to ash - you don't watch TV. Same goes for radio reception - if you have a radio in your house, get rid of it. (If Putin decides to nuke England, you're better off dead anyway!)

2. To keep in touch with he world and keep up with the news, set a few news sites of your choice on your browser's home tabs. Then you can pick and choose what news you want to be exposed to. (This way if Putin decides to nuke England you can still read about it online while avoiding any articles about Star Wars!)

3. Download or stream whatever shows or movies you want to watch. If you look around, you can watch those shows without any adverts and at a time of your choosing. Same with any music you like listening to - you don't need to get it from the radio.

4. If you haven't already, install the AdBlock Plus addon into your browser. This will shield you effectively from most internet advertising.

5. Stay out of any forums, blogs, fansites, articles or social media pages relating to Star Wars (or anything else you want to shield yourself from. I avoid Game of Thrones sites for this reason.) If you really need to discuss it, pick just one forum (like this one!) and confine your explorations of Star Wars to it.

If you follow these steps, you'll be surprised at how well you can shield yourself from the hype!

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Net neutrality protesters set up camp outside FCC headquarters

Steven Roper
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I like the irony

of using Google Video vs. YouTube as an example of net neutrality. The message I get from that is if you're a massive corporation and can't compete, buy out the competition!

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ENTIRE UNIVERSE created in supercomputer. Not THIS universe (probably)

Steven Roper
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Good stuff

Now all we need is for David Braben to include this model in the next version of Elite: Frontier (with procedurally generated surfaces for known extrasolar planets, natch, and of course Lave has to be in there somewhere...)

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Watch out, Yahoo! EFF looses BADGER on sites that ignore Do Not Track

Steven Roper
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Re: Armor up

Especially since many sites ... are now employing ad-blocker-blockers of a very broad sort.

My universal response to being told to turn off my adblocker or allow third-party tracking is simply to add that site to my blacklist and move on to the next site. I've lived perfectly well so far without whatever the site is offering and I'll live perfectly well without it for many years yet.

Same thing goes for sites that display nothing but a "You must enable Javascript to view this site" banner. If you don't give me any reason why I should allow Javascript for your site, you don't give me any reason to be a potential customer (or product!) A good site should fall back gracefully to at least let people see what you're offering so they can decide whether they want to enable Javascript or not. By all means have a banner advising me that some features need Javascript, but at least give me something to be able to base that decision on.

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UK.gov data sell-off row: HMRC denies claims it'll flog YOUR private info

Steven Roper
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Yes, but the rest of that clause 2 throws a wide enough get-out blanket as to render clause 1 completely meaningless.

Granted, your point about economic wellbeing may be valid, but I'm sure "protection of health or morals" - especially "morals" considering how fluid and relative those are - would suffice. Or "the rights and freedoms of others" - for example, the rights and freedoms of rich politicians and company executives to profit from our data?

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Russia 'incompatible with the internet', cries web CEO 'axed by Putin'

Steven Roper
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@ Dan Paul

And I wish people like you would pack up and move to somewhere like Somalia or Sudan. No laws or government there, it's all dog-eat-dog and devil take the weakest, just the way you like it. You're free to exploit others for your own gain, engage in social darwinism, and kill anybody you don't like. You can even staff your factories with slave labour, if you so wish. Saves having to pay all those lazy good-for-nothing lower-class plebeians, eh?

Meanwhile, those of us who understand the most basic principles of civilisation and respect for others, would like to continue living in the countries that have prospered under those principles, in more fair and equitable conditions, free from the greed and selfishness of bigots like you.

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Google's self-driving car breakthrough: Stop sign no longer a problem

Steven Roper
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Re: In five years, self-driving cars will be common in traffic everywhere.

You're not looking at it the right way. You're thinking in terms of improving the lot of the common people, which is not how the ruling classes think. Their objective is to reduce freedom and enjoyment of life so they can have more power and control. Read Orwell's 1984 some time, it's the textbook instruction manual for how those in power run things.

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-Lower insurance? Less profit for the shareholders. No chance of that happening.

-Lower fuel consumption? Less taxes and excise for the government. No chance of that either.

-Don't need a license? Less fees and reduced ability to identify travellers. Nope.

-Fewer killed or injured? That reduces excuses for passing more freedom-limiting laws. Uh-uh.

-No need for designated driver? Then there's nobody to blame if something fucks up. Sorry.

-Read/watch movies while commuting? Somebody's enjoying themselves on the road and we can't have that.

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If you want to promote driverless cars, you have to make them appeal to those in power. For example, extol their virtues like this:

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-Driverless cars can be taken over by police, the doors locked so the occupant can't escape, and directed to the nearest police station for easy arrest.

-They can be tracked and monitored wherever they go so the location of every citizen can be recorded continuously.

-They don't need a driver so you don't have to pay a chauffeur.

-You can bill people per mile AND per minute so you can compensate for the lower insurance and fuel usage.

-Instead of a driver's license people have to insert a credit card for identification and billing. This way it's easy to 'pip' a credit card to prevent "undesirable persons" from travelling.

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Get the picture? If you word it like that you'll be much more likely to get the lawmakers on side with it, and then we can enjoy at least some of the benefits you describe as well.

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Steven Roper
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If you're not actively thinking about driving while engaged in the act of doing it, then you're doing it wrong and need to stop.

Use the Force, Luke.

Once you're familiar with driving it becomes like walking. Do you consciously think about putting one leg in front of the other while strolling down the street, or manually measure the height of a step before going up a flight of stairs? Your subconscious manages your reflexes a lot faster than the conscious mind because there's no processing overhead. If you develop the right reflexes early on, you're a much safer driver than the white-knuckled panicker who's frantically evaluating everything that's happening and trying to consciously decide a dozen things at once.

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El Reg posse prepares for quid-a-day nosh challenge

Steven Roper
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Re: A few bob in the jar from me

PS Does roadkill count? (just asking)

Only if you're not the one that ran it over. Otherwise the cost of petrol has to be factored into your procurement.

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NASA spots 'new' star just 7.2 light years away

Steven Roper
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Re: Why is it warm?

Gravity compresses its gases, compression heats gases up. Same reason why the Earth's core is so hot - compression from the weight of all that rock on top of it.

Jupiter is the same as well; it actually emits more energy in the form of heat than it gets from the Sun.

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Oz crime-busters' calls for data retention get louder

Steven Roper
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The most terrifying line in that article

"Today's citizen may be tomorrow's person of interest."

You mean, in the same way somebody who regularly bought groceries from a Jewish-owned store in 1920s Germany might have been a "person of interest" to the new ruling party which was voted in a few years later?

The way this world is going, I have a horrible crawling feeling that history is about to repeat itself - only far worse this time, considering the advent of surveillance and data storage technology Germany didn't exactly have at the time...

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This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices

Steven Roper
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I absolutely refuse to embrace this "rental" ransomware business model Microsoft are engendering. I say ransomware because, if you don't keep your payments up, your license expires and all your work, saved in their format or even in their cloud, is lost. Fuck that for a game of thieves.

No greedy scum are going to hold my work for ransom. I categorically will NEVER use subscription software for my work, just as I will NEVER keep my work on a cloud server where it can be stolen or deleted if I don't pay my bill. You can stick all this monthly leeching bullshit right with the sun don't fucking shine.

And I'm sure I'm not the only person who feels this way, despite all the propaganda and astroturfed popularity of this corrupt and disgusting business method.

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Not your father's spam: Trojan slingers attach badness to attachment WITHIN attachment

Steven Roper
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Doesn't make any difference

Rule 1: "No bank, government department or financial institution will ever ask you to click a link in an email or open an attachment,no matter how official it looks."

Rule 2: "If you get an email with a link or attachment from someone you know, always phone that person first to confirm that they've sent it before opening the attachment or clicking the link."

Rule 3: "If you get an email with a link or attachment from someone you don't know, delete it. No matter how interesting or funny or wonderful it may seem, delete it. Don't think, just do it."

I've drilled these three simple rules into the heads of my friends and family as though they were god's own commandments. I also set them up with Firefox, Adblock and NoScript, set NS to allow scripts for the major sites like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and each person's own banks and favourite sites, and left them to it. Since then, I haven't had to disinfect any of their computers for several years. It's not rocket science. A few simple precautionary principles will protect you from even the most devious tricks.

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UFO, cosmic ray or flasher? NASA rules on Curiosity curiosity

Steven Roper
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Re: Disgusted!

Erupting volcano? More likely it was just Moses walking up front carrying a large flame torch soaked in animal fat.

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Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars

Steven Roper
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Definitely messianic pastry material

If that rock is "right way up", then there's no Cape York Peninsula or Gulf of Carpentaria, the Melbourne end is too pointy and lopsided, and there's no Fleurieu, Yorke and Eyre Peninsulas in South Australia.

If it's "upside down" then it's also flipped left-to-right, so the Cape York Peninsula and Gulf of Carpentaria are on the wrong end and back to front, and there's no Great Australian Bight (Or the three South Australian peninsulas either.)

Either way, it's serious stretch to see a map Australia in that rock. If anything, it's more suggestive of Antarctica than Australia...

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NSW to expand e-voting

Steven Roper
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Joke

I don't like the name of the company

"Scytl" is a little too much like "Scytale" for my liking.

(For those familiar with the Dune-iverse, you may remember that Scytale was the name of a Face Dancer, and later a Tleilaxu Master, and both were evil, scheming manipulators...!)

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Time is on their side: NIST's new atomic clock accurate for 300 MEEELLION years

Steven Roper
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I will not be satisfied

until we have a timepiece that can tell us the number of Planck-times elapsed since the Big Bang. Now that's an accurate clock!

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Why ever leave home? Amazon wants to turn your kitchen into a shop

Steven Roper
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Re: Computer says no

A bloke by the name of E.M. Forster was about 100 years ahead of you, Hagglefoot. Look up a story titled "The Machine Stops" by the aforementioned Mr. Forster, for a chilling preview of the deadly future that awaits us. The truly stunning thing is, this story was written before World War 1!

Utter dependence on technology to the point where humanity cannot survive without it - communication via mobiles and tablet PCs (which he calls 'plates'), the Internet, the inane and meaningless drivel of Facebook and countless blogs, the absence of any originality in art, and the fear of leaving one's domicile or going outside, are all predicted in this story with eerie and uncanny accuracy. We're closer to it these days than you might care to think.

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iiNet CEO Michael Malone resigns

Steven Roper
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As an Internode customer myself, that would be fucking awesome, not to mention extremely poetic. Simon Hackett for CEO!

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Universal Music mulls 'all you can eat' buffet of song downloads

Steven Roper
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I might give it a go if...

...there is no DRM (which as the article says there likely isn't), actual download-and-kepp-forever not "rental period" or "pay-per-listen", no selling my download and identity info to third parties, and NO GODDAMN REGION LOCKING.

The moment I see "Sorry, this track isn't available in your country" even once, I'll be heading straight back to Bittorrent. The internet is worldwide, it's high time copyright owners realised this fact and got with the fucking program.

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Apple ticks off trigger-happy Bitcoiners with App Store snub

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Flame

Suck it, fanbois

When you went out and bought your iThings, you legitimised and financed a company whose business model revolved around you paying for a device they retained control of. You knew Apple created a walled garden, you knew they could reach in and remove apps they didn't like, and take effective control of your device and your data, and now that policy is costing you real money. And your widespread support of this business model encouraged other companies to follow suit - Google with Android, and Microsoft with Windows 8, leaving everyone with no choice but to accept a world in which the OS vendor can reach into your machines and monitor and tamper with your software and data as they see fit.

Well, boys and girls, suck it up and drink it down. You get no sympathy from me. Your idiocy legitimised this invasive and megalomaniac business model, so you can live with the consequences. Enjoy.

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CERN outlines plan for new 100km circumference supercollider

Steven Roper
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Is that really the best place to build these things?

I'm not a physicist or an engineer, and no doubt these people know exactly what they're doing, but even experts have sometimes overlooked things.

At the levels of precision these colliders are operating, I'd have thought that building them in the Alps might introduce anomalies and gravitational distortions from having all those mountains scattered about the place. Granted, the gravity of a mountain is miniscule against the gravity of the Earth, but when you're trying to track the path of an unknown particle that might be affected by even a billionth of a g it might make enough difference to skew an expected result. To which end, wouldn't they be better off building it somewhere flat (like the Australian outback for example) to minimise possible distortion effects caused by rugged and uneven terrain?

Not to mention which, the Alps lie along a major tectonic fault line. Crustal compression is going to distort a ring on that scale over time, which is another reason building it in a more geologically stable area, like on top of a craton, might be a good idea.

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Think British weather is bad? It's nothing to this WOBBLY ALIEN planet

Steven Roper
Silver badge

I may have to eat my words

in a years-old argument with a friend.

Many years ago, we were watching a Star Trek TNG episode (I can't remember which one it was), and there was a scene in which Captain Picard was studying an "anomalous" star system. Picard had a holographic projection of this system above his desk, and one of the depicted planets had a distorted orbit that was decidedly non-planar. I told my friend that was absolute garbage, that it was gravitationally impossible for a planet to orbit like that. (I tended to pick holes in Star Trek's premises and dismiss it as "treknobabble", while my friend insisted it was all based on actual known physics, which made me laugh.)

Well... this seems to be a planet that orbits in a fashion rather similar to Picard's holographic system. I wouldn't have thought it possible - but there it is. Looks like my friend has the last laugh after all!

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Mars rover Curiosity snaps 'pale blue dot' image of Earth, Moon

This post has been deleted by a moderator

EVE Online erects mashed-up memorial to biggest space fight in history

Steven Roper
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@RISC OS

I think you might be on the wrong site buddy. If you're looking for 4chan it's right over there. ------>

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Chaps propose free global WiFi delivered FROM SPAAAACE

Steven Roper
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If you had actually bothered to contribute something to the discussion, I might have been interested to look at your book.

Since, however, you simply chose to use the El Reg forums as a free billboard for your spam, I won't be bothering, and I suspect, neither will others here.

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Apple seeks patent for mood-sensing technology

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Let Apple have it!

Actually I believe this is one patent Apple should be allowed to have. In fact, I'd like for them to have complete and ironclad control over all emotion-sensing technology. Why?

Because that would mean, since I will never buy an Apple product or even allow one in my house, I wouldn't have to worry about my phone, tablet, computer, TV, fridge or toaster analysing my emotional states for advertisers to exploit; an insidious and vile misapplication of technology by any standard. If Apple had control of that, it means nobody else would be able to use it, and I could safely watch Game of Thrones on my (non-Apple) TV without worrying about some advertising agency scanning my face and spotting that I have the hots for Cersei Lannister.

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Boffins tell ALIEN twin-sunned planets: You're adopted

Steven Roper
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Re: Does anyone remember "Space 1999" ?

I'm curious as to why people find it necessary to mock the fashions and dress sense of the 70s - and of no other decade in human history. Considering the frills and knickerbockers of the Renaissance or the overdressed foppishness of the Victorian era, or even the paisley and pudding-bowl haircuts of the 1960s, are just as "ridiculous" to modern eyes, I find it strange that people on every site I visit feel the need to ridicule the 1970s specifically whenever the subject comes up.

From what I remember of the 1970s (admittedly I was a kid at the time so there's probably some nostalgia goggles here) people generally seemed a lot more laid back and easygoing, and a lot less judgmental and intolerant than today. Furthermore, they worked shorter hours, had more leisure time, less work-related stress, and were paid proportionally more. So I wonder: is the mockery rooted in envy, or right-wing zealotry, or political correctness, or what?

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Dead Kim Jong-il's OS makeover takes a page from Dead Steve Jobs

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Not like they're going to respect western IP anyway

The bad news is, there's no way the FSF can enforce the GPL since the NK "courts" would laugh at them.

The good news is, that means Apple can't chase them for using round-cornered rectangular windows either.

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