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* Posts by Steven Roper

1207 posts • joined 10 May 2011

Is this the first ever web page? If not, CERN would like to know

Steven Roper
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Re: Surely this is all recorded

If that were true, then the Wayback machine would itself be the first website in existence, no?

Remember, a time machine cannot travel back before the time it was created and all that...

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Quid-a-day nosh challenge hack in bullet-hard chickpea drama

Steven Roper
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Re: Last all week?

Remember the old childrens' nursery rhyme?

Pease porridge hot

Pease porridge cold

Pease porridge in the pot

Nine days old.

What Lester has cooked up here is essentially "pease porridge". It doesn't go off as long as you keep it on the slow boil at least some of the time. It might start getting a bit manky after nine days, but it would still be edible if not palatable!

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How Google lost the trust of Europe’s data protection authorities

Steven Roper
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Re: Evil Robots

"Meantime, we need to change our laws such that any information obtained in violation of reasonable expectations of privacy is not usable."

I agree with your post in principle, and absolutely support your views concerning privacy, but to play devil's advocate in relation to this quote, would you still say that if a man who raped your daughter walked away scot-free on a technicality because the video catching him in the act was declared inadmissible due to "surveillance without judicial oversight?"

Many lambast the courts and justice system for just this kind of scenario; a criminal walking free because of legal technicalities is exactly the kind of thing that gets normally reasonable people screaming about judges slapping wrists and howling for lynch mobs and vigilante justice.

The internet combined with cheap plentiful digital cameras and the kind of data aggregation provided by companies like Google, has opened a Pandora's box full of very frightening possibilities. At what point do our freedoms and rights of privacy trump the ability of the justice system to put thugs behind bars? At what point does the ability of the justice system to impose the rule of law trump our rights and freedoms?

Now any regulars on this forum who have seen my posts know my stance on the importance of freedom and privacy and my often vitriolic defence of them. I absolutely agree with the points you made in your post, yet the issues I've raised here must also be addressed if we are to have any hope of actually retaining the freedom and privacy we both value so highly.

I don't pretend to have a solution. But whatever solution we come up with must somehow encompass accountability and responsibility as well as freedom and privacy.

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Google Plus minus Meebo Bar equals Google minus $100m

Steven Roper
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Re: Can someone do the same thing to the "Ask Toolbar" Please!!!!!?????

You think that's bad?

I came across a download the other day whose installer had checkboxes for "Please install SomeSpywareToolbar" and "Make my default homepage SomeSpamSearchSite" - and the checkboxes were ticked and greyed out so you couldn't untick them. I mean, WTF? Why even bother to put checkboxes there at all?

Needless to say, the install was aborted at that point, the originating site added to my blacklist, and my search for a tool to do the job I needed continued.

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Surprise! Republican bill adds politics to science funding

Steven Roper
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Re: Separation of church and state

You could say that.

Please forgive me. It's Monday morning here, and my sleep-in yesterday was rudely interrupted by some unwelcome peddlers of "the good news", so religion is pretty high on my hate-list at the moment!

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Steven Roper
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Separation of church and state

should extend as far as: If you profess belief in any organised religion, you cannot stand for or be elected to public office or called to the bar. It has been made clear many, many times throughout history that those who believe in invisible men in the sky are not competent to direct the affairs of civilisation.

Bugger "freedom of religion." It should be "freedom from religion." Along with the already-recognised freedoms from want, war, oppression and fear, at least three of which have religion as a primary cause.

I mean, imagine if people went around claiming "freedom of oppression" or "freedom of war?" It would be a fucking joke.

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Google to Glass devs: 'Duh! Go ahead, hack your headset'

Steven Roper
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Re: Love it.

"I don't care what the naysayers, pessimists, Luddites or anyone else who poo-poos this device say, I want one."

As do I. The potential of this technology to enhance our lives is incredible. It's exactly the kind of sci-fi invention I used to fantasise about as a kid. I would love to have the ability to record every moment of my life and be able to use it as a marvellous adjunct to my all-too-fallible memory.

However, I want to do so on my own terms. Those terms include retaining control of the imagery and recordings and experiences taken with the device. I, and I alone, get to choose who sees what, and what is done with it. I cannot and will not tolerate having some faceless American corporation, or equally faceless police-state bureaucracy, constantly looking over my shoulder, narrowly analysing and studying my every act, for the express purpose of exploiting and manipulating me into buying things, or of controlling my life and behaviour for their benefit.

So as it stands, Google Glass is not for me, and will never be unless and until I can guarantee that I, only I, have access to and control of the data that it creates. Hacking the device is a great start towards this end, I grant, and it opens a world of possibilities. But I'll want to be sure before I let that shit anywhere near me.

I'm not a Luddite, so much as I subscribe to the now seemingly-outdated notion that my life is my own, and that my experiences and memories belong to me. I do not consider this notion to be unreasonable.

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BT unleashes SIP licensing troll army

Steven Roper
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This is the same scumbag behaviour

used back in the 90s by Unisys with gif and Fraunhofer with mp3:

1. Patent an algorithm, protocol or format.

2. Let it leak into the wider world and let people start using it.

3. Wait in the shadows until the entire world has adopted it as a standard.

4. Suddenly leap out of the shadows and claim "oh BTW, we own that so all you people we've been letting use it for free now have to pay up or else"

5. ???

6. Profit!

This practice is deceptive, immoral and should be made illegal. Patents should be treated the same as trademarks; if you don't defend them right from the get-go, you lose them.

I hope the greedy bastards that do this shit die in a fucking fire.

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Texan stitches stratosphere into stunning panoramas

Steven Roper
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Re: All one needs to do is coat the balloon in Cavorite.

Of which an essential ingredient was helium if I remember the story aright!

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DARPA looks for a guided bullet with DEAD reckoning navigation

Steven Roper
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Re: Deceased Navigation?

It's been called "dead reckoning" for as long as I can remember and quite some time before that. I recall reading about pilots using it in VFR, about offsetting the nose of the aircraft from the destination to compensate for crosswinds, in a book about aircraft I had as a kid back in the 70s. And Melville also uses the term in Moby Dick, when he describes in some detail the "log and line" method of navigating: You heave a log tied to a line overboard and count how long the ship takes to sail past it. Melville's protagonist even points out how this method is unreliable and inaccurate compared to the quadrant, which Ahab had destroyed during one of his psychotic episodes the day before.

So "dead reckoning" goes back close to a couple of centuries at least.

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Mosaic turns 20: Let's fire up the old girl, show her the web today

Steven Roper
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Ha ha ha, my first computer was also a ZX81, given to me for my 16th birthday in 1982. Except that in my case, in the struggle of computers vs. girls, computers won...!

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Master Beats: Why doesn't audio quality matter these days?

Steven Roper
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No, you need to shoot yourself

Are you really happy that your kids are working 60+ hours a week for a pittance while the CEO of the company they work for waxes fat and rich on their labours, because this Thatcher whose boots you lick destroyed all the hard-fought rights of workers to decent pay and working conditions?

I also remember the 70s: a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, a 38-hour week, and only Dad had to work to pay the house off (Mum started working in the 80s so they could get their 25 year mortgage down to 10.) You try and find that lifestyle anywhere now, thanks to people like you supporting Thatcher and her ilk.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Did you really need the political commentary?

I also make the effort to read articles and comments by those whose politics I don't share; there's no point in trying to argue with someone if you don't understand why they think the way they do, or you'll just end up crossing wires and neither of you will get anywhere. As a result, my political stance encompasses elements of of both leftist and rightist thinking. You need some kind of minimum standard of living and welfare for those who need assistance to maintain it, but you also need some leeway for business to be able to grow and survive in a competitive world. So it's important to understand both sides of the issues.

My biggest problem though, comes when dealing with those whose political views involve the use of words like "racist", "sexist", "misogynist", "homophobic", "xenophobic", "heteronormative", and "(white/male) privilege" - which generally leaves me wanting to blow their sanctimonious heads off. I find it ironic that the worst offenders in that camp are often white and/or male themselves. Methinks they doth protest too much?

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Steven Roper
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Re: @Triggerfish "Music" is the problem

I also have to agree with Vladimir on this one.

I have a very broad taste in music: glancing through my collection, I have folders for classical (Baroque such as Handel, Vivaldi and Bach; Romantic such as Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms; Bohemian such as Tchaikovsky and Sibelius), opera (ranging from Rossini and Verdi to Wagner), movie soundtracks (such as Mancini, Williams, Goldsmith, Horner and Zimmer), pop chart music from 50s to pretty much present day, 70s and 80s hair metal (from Hendrix and Deep Purple through Sabbath and Dio up to Metallica and G'n'R), emo metal (Evanescence, Nightwish), synth (Jarre, Vangelis, Eno), ambient (Kitaro, Genest, Enya etc), easy listening (Yanni, J. Galway), 8-bit c64 chip/SID tunes (Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway, Jeroen Tel), techno/trance (Oakenfold, Kai Tracid, DJ Tiesto etc), traditional folk tunes (from Europe, Middle East, Asia and Native American like Konalien and Eddy Omonte) and even military marches (Sousa and co, played by the Coldstream and Grenadier Guards bands, mostly.)

My music collection contains works by all these and more, and I cycle through pretty much all of it regularly.

So you can see from that lot that I have a much wider taste in music than most people. But I agree with Vladimir that rap is not music. I've tried to listen to it, I really have - I'm always eager for different music, as my wide range above shows. But it just does nothing for me. It doesn't engage my soul the way all those other genres do. Listening to some homeboy rhythmically ranting over boom-tisha-boom-erk-erk-erk, about gettin' down with ma homies, killin' da pigs, and smackin' ma muthafukkin bitch up yo muthafukka yo, isn't what I call music. Not even remotely.

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Steven Roper
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WTF?

I don't have a problem with mp3

if they're encoded at a decent bitrate (>= 256 kbps).

I'm 46, so I know my hearing probably isn't quite what it was in my yoof, but aside from a bit of tinnitus in a silent room I can hear even quiet sounds distinctly enough, and a hearing test last year put my frequency range on the order of 17 Hz - 18.2 kHz. Not much wrong with my ears mate.

Despite this, I honestly cannot hear any difference between a CD, a FLAC and a 256 kbps mp3 on my stereo system*. So anything higher (e.g. 320 kbps) is simply a waste of space. I can hear some high-end aliasing noise in 128 kbps mp3s, especially if the piece is classical or movie soundtrack instrumental, and I can just about pick it with a 192 kbps mp3. So I encode classical and instrumental music at 320 kbps just to be sure, and rock and pop at 256, and it all sounds sweet to me.

So unless you FLAC afficionados have ears like fruit bats, I just don't get this "mp3 sounds lousy" thing. Yes, a 32, 64 or 96 kbps mp3 sounds like shit (96 is the bottom end of tolerability if there's no other alternative), but anything 256 or over is indistinguishable from uncompressed to my ears.

*Technics SU-Z780 Class A amp circa 1986, 80W rms per channel, still sounds as sweet as the day I got it, and 2 custom built 140W rms speaker boxes of same vintage with two 16" woofers, 4 midrange drivers, 2 tweeters, 1 piezo super-tweeter and bass reflex duct per box, connected with oxygen-free copper monster cable.

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Internet freedom groups urge W3C to keep DRM out of HTML

Steven Roper
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This attitude

is an example of exactly the kind of social engineering, public control and psychological manipulation I've posted about elsewhere that makes any kind of revolution or stand for freedom impossible in the modern age.

Those "Pirate parties" you dismiss with such glibness are people standing up for your freedom, privacy and civil rights. Your dismissing them as elements of the lunatic fringe, which is evident from the tone of your post, plays right into the hands of Big Business and Big Government and those who are constantly trying to take our liberties and rights away from us. That makes you as corrupt as they are.

I for one am right behind their efforts, not just because of the rights abuses DRM enables but because, by virtue of Bob being the same person as Mallory in the DRM Alice-Bob-Mallory cryptographic scenario, DRM is snake oil.

But you just keep cranking that propaganda handle, sunshine. Maybe some of your fellow sheep will even start to believe you after a while.

...Oh, I just noticed it's you, David W. Suprise sur-fucking-prise!

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Mobes' pay-by-bonk just isn't cool enough, sniffs Tesco bod

Steven Roper
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Coat

@ Harvey Trowell

"...having to prod the keypad after all you nose-picking buttscratchers have had a crack at it."

You reminded me of a study some uni students did in my town a few years ago. They took samples from ATM keypads around the city and did some forensic testing. Among the substances they found on the keypads were traces of:

Saliva and nasal mucus (there's your nosepickers);

Human, cat, dog, bird and rodent urine and faeces (there's your buttscratchers);

Coffee, fruit juice and soft drinks;

Assorted sauces, meat and vegetable food products in various states of decay;

Human skin (natch), blood and internal organ tissue(!?);

About the same quantity and species of bacteria per square cm as found on an average public toilet seat;

And I've saved the best for last: They found traces of human, BULL and PIG SEMEN on the keypads. Somewhere in my city, there are pig and cow fuckers going around using our ATMs (probably farmers having done artificial insemination, but I can't speak for their hygiene!) As to the human semen, the less said the better...

Mine's the one with the disposable surgical gloves in the pocket.

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Oz broadband speeds collapsed in 2012

Steven Roper
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If they measured Australian boradband speeds

while Game of Thrones was airing, they would definitely get a skewed reading. They should wait until after the season finished and then do their measurements, they'd get a more accurate result!

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Privacy crusaders: ISPs in 'conspiracy of silence' over Snoop Charter

Steven Roper
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meta name="keywords"

content=" ANFO,avoid detection,blast,bomb,contact cell,destroy,detcord,detonation velocity,diesel,disaster,FBI,Federal Reserve Bank,fertilizer,hexamine,Interpol,kill,Nitropril,Obama,police,RDX,truck,unmarked,Wall Street,White House"

That should do it.

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Human rights groups rally humanity against killer robots

Steven Roper
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Re: Good

"Or anything ... that denies the target a chance to fight back at their attacker..."

Ah yes, the old principles of honour and fair fighting in warfare. In days of old when knights were bold and all that.

There's a song from around 1979 you should listen to (if you haven't heard it already) by Chris DeBurgh, called "Crusader." Especially listen to the last verse, which is a reprise of the first with a few significant changes. It's just as relevant today as it was in the post-Vietnam era it was written to satirise. It still brings a lump into my throat when I listen to it.

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First Firefox OS developer phones to launch on Tuesday

Steven Roper
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What I want to know is

1. Will it be subject to "remote control" by Mozilla, in the same way that Android, iOS and Windows 8 all are by their respective vendors?

2. Will it "phone home" to Mozilla about everything I do, and build profiles on my surfing and usage habits to sell to advertisers and other exploitative scum?

3. Will it trap me in a walled garden where the only software I can install is that approved by Mozilla?

4. Will it require me to sign in to an online account in order to use my device?

5. Will it force me to use cloud storage over my own local storage?

6. Will it allow Mozilla to reach into my device and delete or modify apps and content a la Amazon / Google?

7. Will I be required to sign away my most basic human rights of property ownership in order to be able to use the device?

8. Will Mozilla require a free-for-all copyright licence to use any content I create with the device as they see fit without credit or renumeration to myself?

If the answer to all 8 of these questions is "No", then I'm definitely interested. Mozilla, you have a chance to give the middle finger to every fucking greedy corporation on this planet who seem to have forgotten what the words "freedom", "privacy" and "personal ownership" mean. Please don't fuck it up by joining them.

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Securing the Internet of Things - or how light bulbs can spy on you

Steven Roper
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Perhaps nothing

illustrates the extent to which corporate greed and government powerlust have perverted technology than the comments in this forum.

This is a tech site. Its readers are technically minded people; geeks, nerds, wizards, hackers, IT professionals. These are the sort of people who in the past have always eagerly embraced new technologies and looked forward to the future of computing technology; a future of immersive alternative realities, the world's information at our fingertips, artificial intelligences to augment our senses and brains and make us into superhuman demigods.

Instead, our responses now have become focused solely on how the ruling elite will use this technology to enslave, monitor and control everyone. The first thing we think of when new technologies are discussed is no longer the benefits it will bring, the advances it will provide, or the problems it will solve. Now it is all about how corporations will use it to pry into our hearts and minds, the better to manipulate us into buying paying for their permission to use their products; how governments will use it to keep us under constant surveillance to further their absolute control and regulation of every minutia of our lives.

Where did we lose it? Why have we let things come to this pass? We have allowed evil, greedy and corrupt people to dominate our society, our businesses, and our governments; we have allowed them to turn every tool we created against us, and all that remains now is that the future is a horror.

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Steven Roper
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Big Brother

Re: No

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

Except that even Orwell couldn't have imagined the extent of this horror.

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ZTE ejects from Iran as Feds probe spy-tech export claims

Steven Roper
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Facepalm

Re: Erm.... Anon because one or more Feds might be reading this.

Erm... if "the Feds" wanted to find out who you are, they'd contact their UK counterparts who would then serve El Reg with a warrant, and El Reg's staff would hand over your email, account details and the IP addresses you've posted from for the last few years without a second's argument. Sir yes sir.

Anonymous Coward only serves as protection from other Reg commentards, it's about as effective as wet paper armour as a defence against police or governments!

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YouTube beats off $1bn Viacom copyright case once AGAIN

Steven Roper
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Devil

Those of you

commenting that if YouTube is protected by safe-harbour then so are Pirate Bay or Megaupload, are forgetting one important detail: You Tube is owned by a large multinational corporation with billions of dollars to chuck at lawyers, while Pirate Bay and Megaupload were set up by little guys with fuck all. You lot are aware that there's one law for corporations and their upper echelons and another for us little people, and that justice is only a commodity for sale to the highest bidder, right?

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PEAK APPLE: Fondleslab giant no longer world's biggest biz

Steven Roper
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Re: So which are these larger companies?

Well, aside from Exxon Mobil, there's Royal Dutch Shell, Walmart, Sinopec Group, BP, China National Petroleum Corp., Saudi Aramco, Vitol, State Grid Corp. of China, Chevron, Conoco Phillips, Toyota, Total, Volkswagen Group, Japan Post Holdings, Samsung, Glencore, and Gazprom, all of which are bigger than Apple in terms of revenue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companies_by_revenue

See Apple down there at number 19?

Most of these corporations also have their fingers in a lot more pies than Apple, which is why you won't see their share values going up and down like a two-bob watch.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Let it go.

Fondleslabs, like commentards, Bulgarian airbags, the milliWales and the speed of sheep in a vacuum, is part of El Reg's lexicon and community culture. If these things annoy you, perhaps you might find Ars Technica more to your liking? It's right over there. --->

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Boffins build ant-sized battery, claim it's tough enough to start a car

Steven Roper
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Boffin

Re: Research Bad News & Laboratory Products

If people are ignorant and cynical it's because they're sick of snake oil salesmen promising the moon wrapped in cellophane and then never delivering. People aren't born cynical, they get that way because talk is cheap and bullshit is common.

My cynicism switch is triggered by people talking about inventions that improve on current technologies by orders of magnitude, like this article - that's when I start rubbing my beard and saying things like "oh yeah, sure..." because my life experience has taught me, repeatedly, that big talk goes with hot air.

For me the two biggest causes of this syndrome are data storage devices, and portable energy sources. I've lost count of the number of times I've seen articles about researchers inventing umpteen-petabyte-in-a-matchbox holographic crystal storage devices but, years later, the largest hard drive I can buy is STILL only 4 TB. I'm not expecting to see anything much bigger than a dozen TB at most come to market in the next 5 years - if it does I'll eat my own socks and post the video on YouTube.

I have the same attitude to battery promises as well. I don't know how many times I've read articles about the next big thing that will revolutionise battery technology only for it to vanish in a puff of vapourware and never mentioned again.

That's the crux of the problem and the cause of the cynicism: a single article like this appears in the likes of El Reg and Ars Technica and then is never mentioned again. No follow-up articles, no progress reports, no "this time last year we reported on...", nothing. That's why people get cynical.

And the reason that these things only ever appear once is that a lot of these "inventions" are the products of graduate students doing something for their thesis or paper in order to obtain that degree or other certificate that they hope will get them a nice cushy job in a corner office somewhere. Once they have the piece of paper and the cushy job, the invention joins the millions of other inventions buried in the archives of some university library and is never looked at again. Once the students graduate, their university projects usually come to an abrupt end - and the fabulous invention we've been promised evaporates in a puff of library dust.

So if this cynicism is crushing researchers' spirits, maybe those researchers should consider the benefits of keeping the public updated on the course of their research. If I saw even one article mentioning progress on a technology that was reported a year or so ago - even just once a year would suffice, because I understand that it can take a few years to bring a prototype to market - just keeping people updated on the development progress would go a long way toward assuring us that this wasn't just another student's graduation ticket to be buried in an archive box once they've got their bit of paper.

Until then, I'll just keep rubbing my beard and saying, "yeah, sure mate..."

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Magic mystery malware menaces many UK machines - new claim

Steven Roper
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Go

Why terrified?

Given the way those particular years have seen political correctness replace common sense and fear replace freedoms, I couldn't be happier if the last 12 years had never happened TBH!

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Eerie satnav boffinry claims it can predict THE FUTURE

Steven Roper
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Re: Flaw in theory...

And have it deliver said shock to the privates automatically, with the voltage increasing in logarithmic increments, every half-second that the idiot has his hands off the wheel.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Nanny Car

" I was dubious as to Google Nows usefulness but am becoming convinced,... slowly."

Don't become too dependent on it. Remember Google have a track record of killing off useful services once they start being used by too many people. Remember Wave, Buzz, iGoogle, etc, etc...

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Space elevators, vacuum chutes: What next for big rocket tech?

Steven Roper
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Re: Space elevated....

"...you don't want airports near populaton centres, but everytime someone builds an isolated one people start building all arond it"

And then all the NIMBY idiots building around the once-isolated airport start complaining about traffic congestion and aircraft noise...

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Oz regulator “welcomes” debate on limiting net neutrality

Steven Roper
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Yep, me too.

I read the article as far as that line and then, assuming the rest of the article would be like-minded anti-freetard rant a la AO, I just clicked into the comments section to see if there was a shitstorm over it. Well, not so much a shitstorm, but you beat me to it, so here's my support to your statement.

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'North Korea Has Launched a Missile' tweet sent by mistake

Steven Roper
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Meh

Re: Why?

...they invaded Iraq over the fact they suspected they might have WMDs with no evidence. NK has WMDs, admits it, and is threatening to use them and we do nothing...

That's because there isn't any oil in NK (or any other exploitable resources for that matter.)

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FAA: 'No, you CAN'T hijack a plane with an Android app'

Steven Roper
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The appropriate response...

to nannies like you is to lock you securely in a little rubber room where you can be safe and sound from all the nasty tewwible evil things that can go wrong in life and in the world.

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StreetView spots possible roadside nookie down under

Steven Roper
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Joke

Re: So Obviously

@Gray Ham

Obviously, you haven't watched any Monty Python recently ...

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... time machine. Iranian Dr Who claims he invented a ...

Steven Roper
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Muad'Dib has arrived!

As the great Frank Herbert pointed out, the ability to see the future collapses the future to the observed state, so it seems that Iran finally has their Kwisatz Haderach.

Next up, Muad'Dib's Jihad establishes the One True Faith over the entire world, locking in the future he and his Iranian compatriots have forseen, until his son Leto II arrives to free us all with his Golden Path.

And even far Gangishree isnt far enough... anyone want to join the Scattering with me?

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Inuit all along: Pirate Bay flees Sweden for Greenland

Steven Roper
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Re: thepiratebay.ml next?

I can see that happening sooner rather than later. Running to Greenland won't save them, because Greenland is a dependent territory of Denmark, and Denmark is just as much up the arses of the MAFIAA as Sweden is, so they won't last long there.

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Windows 8 has put the world's PC market to sleep - IDC

Steven Roper
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It's not just the lack of a Start button or the UI changes that are keeping people away from Windows 8. It's the Appleification of the entire OS - the walled-garden app store; the requirement to sign in to a Microsoft account to use the system (or at least the constant nagging to do so if you choose not to), and the concomitant spying that goes with it; the remote-control mentality; and the emphasis on cloud rather than local storage.

No doubt the Windows 8 fankids will counter by saying "but you can get around those by..." but that's not the point. I shouldn't have to "get around" these restrictions. They simply shouldn't be there. My computer is mine, not Microsoft's, and the sooner they realise that it is this Apple-like control-freak mentality as much as the radical UI changes that is keeping businesses and individuals alike away from it, the quicker their market will recover.

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NASA-backed fusion engine could cut Mars trip down to 30 days

Steven Roper
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"...would be able to pulse every minute or so and not cause g-force damage to the spacecraft's occupants."

And how exactly are they going to pull that off? Did they invent the Star Trek Inertial Damping Field while I was asleep or something? Because in my physics book, the recoil from an FDR going off once per minute is going to have much the same effect on the astronauts and all their various clipboards, tools, equipment and bodies floating around in microgravity as firing a gun, getting slammed into the stern wall every time this thing 'pulses'...

>hmmmmNNNNNNNNZZZZZZ-BANG!!!<

>crash wham wallop ker-thumpetty thud<

"Ow! That's the fifth time you've landed on top of me you fat bastard!"

"Hey, Bob, you seen the way the solar panels wobble on their mounting on that last pulse? Come up here and take a look."

"Oo-er, they do look a bit wonky there mate, lemme get my toolkit out-"

>hmmmmNNNNNNNNZZZZZZ-BANG!!!<

>crash wham wallop ker-thumpetty thud<

"Haha, ya missed me that time fatso! Wanna try again?"

"Forget about that mate, one of the panels is definitely coming loose out there, look."

"Yeh, well if you get off me toolkit I can head to the airlock before the next pulse and go out to-"

>hmmmmNNNNNNNNZZZZZZ-BANG!!!<

>crash wham wallop ker-thumpetty thud<

"FFS this is getting beyond a bloody joke, how long did you say we were accelerating for again?"

"Well, I'd say not for much longer, because that last one just took the portside panel off..."

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Star Trek phaser sells for a STUNNING $231,000

Steven Roper
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Re: Nuts

"Madness, especially as they used to be for sale in toy shops for £2.99."

And the toy would probably be a lot less fragile than the cobbled-together-from-old-camera-parts-by-the-props-department one-use props they make for the movies!

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Library ebooks must SELF-DESTRUCT if scribes want dosh - review

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: Profiteering

"...they also cost ~$0 to distribute, while the cost of paper is quite high..."

No, they do not cost $0 to distribute. I really don't get how people get this idea that just because digital data has no physical existence, that it somehow doesn't cost physical money to distribute. Do you think that the ebook, music, video or whatever data just magically floats though the ether into your reader/player or something?

Now before I go on, I want to state for the record that deteriorating ebooks, like all forms of DRM, is a really stupid idea and will merely encourage piracy in a big way. On that score I'm with the majority of readers here.

That said, my company runs and maintains several e-commerce websites, including an ebook retailer, and we also have a publishing division where we set up, design covers for, proofread, typeset and lay out books (both paper and digital) for our authors. (To make a point, authors occasionally ask us about copy protection on ebooks and our stock response to them is that it's a waste of time and money. If people are going to pirate your book they will find a way, and making life difficult for legitimate customers will only compound the problem.)

It costs real money to run and maintain websites and app stores, which are the primary method of digital content distribution. Bandwidth costs money - a metric fuckton of money if you get a lot of visitors trawling through your sites. Hosting costs money. There's domain registrations, SSL certificate renewals, payment gateway fees, transaction fees, merchant account fees and of course all the plethora of government levies, taxes and tariffs on same. Then there's the small matter of hiring tech support to maintain and update the sites and sort out any issues, and people to read and answer the piles of emails and phone enquiries coming in. On top of that you also have payroll costs, worker's comp insurance, various workplace OH&S compliance costs, software licences, hardware upgrades, office rental, utility bills, accounting fees, etc, etc, etc. Oh, and there's advertising and marketing costs to factor in to all that as well, so that people know about our books and come to the site to buy them. It all adds up.

So what it amounts to is that one set of costs has been replaced by another. Instead of printing, trucking and warehousing costs for dead-tree books we have bandwidth, hosting, site maintenance and payment-gateway costs for ebooks instead. Yes, on a per-book basis the latter is certainly less than the former, and yes, our ebook prices vs paper book prices reflect that; but the cost of distributing digital content certainly isn't zero. Not even per book. Not even close.

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The ten SEXIEST computers of ALL TIME

Steven Roper
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The ZX Spectrum, helping nerds and geeks not get laid since 1982.

FTFYA

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Steven Roper
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Thumb Up

Re: PET/CBM

The PET has always been my favourite case design, right up to the present day. There was something innately "Buck Rogers-ish" about the trapezoidal shape of the monitor housing, and it was all angles and lines and chunky solid shapes. Remove the green-screen CRT and replace it with a modern flat-screen and it still wouldn't look out of place in any sci-fi show you'd care to name!

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Hard luck lads, todger size DOES matter: Official

Steven Roper
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Re: Also

I'm not a fan of big tits either. As my Dad always says, anything more than a handful is a waste!

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Norkoshop: How Pyongyang well and truly forked Adobe

Steven Roper
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Re: pathetic

"i just have a distaste for subliminal persuasion and propaganda which has been going on for centuries, perpetrated by parasites in power..."

As do I, mate, very definitely. You only need to read my many rants on this forum to see that I also am very against the kind of mass social engineering, "political correctness" and abuses of psychological science used to manipulate and control the public.

Yes, many things about the USA and its allies get my stink on too, so I certainly don't follow them blindly either. And not for nothing do I refer to my own country as "the Nanny State Republic of Ausfailia" when the prissy government of this benighted shithole pisses me off.

Your original post, however, unfortunately came across as sounding very like a typical angsty post-adolescent trying to seem edgy by railing against the West in favour of any regime that is their enemy, no matter how despotic. To me such people lack perspective; the Western regime is corrupt and greedy and seriously needs a big kick up the bum, certainly, but it's nowhere near as evil as the regimes in North Korea or Syria or Congo or the like. Those regimes are far more deadly and oppressive than what we live under. So if that was not your intention, then I apologise for the snarkiness of my response.

At the same time, I agree that what we have to put up with is still completely unacceptable. People who dismiss our political issues as "first world problems" annoy me just as much as those who make overblown comparisons between Western governments and barbaric regimes like those third-world dictatorships referred to. Supporting the likes of North Korea because we're pissed off with greedy bankers and corrupt politicians is not the way to go; there's a saying relating to that mentality that goes, "out of the frying pan into the fire." That's why I jump on those angsty supporters of NK and Iran and so forth, because they're so blinded by their anger at the injustices of the West that they don't see the even greater injustices of the third world - which they would see replace our own!

It comes down to "better the devil you know", I suppose. But it's still a devil.

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Steven Roper
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FAIL

Re: pathetic

I don't know if you've been to North Korea or not, Grave, but if you have any shred of human decency about you I'd say you most likely haven't, because if you have and can still post that with a clean conscience, I'd sincerely hope you aren't going to get anywhere near any political power any time soon.

I haven't visited North Korea myself; but one of our clients had, some years back, and over a nice half-day business lunch she told us all about her 3-week stay there. Like you, she had cause to doubt "Western propaganda", and decided to go see for herself what life in North Korea was like.

During that time she was micromanaged beyond belief; she could not go anywhere without her "guide", who carefully ensured any photos she took reflected well upon North Korea, she could only go to designated areas obviously designed to dupe tourists into thinking everything was absolutely wonderful there, and the guide even dictated to which of the carefully selected locals she was allowed to speak to - and even what she was and was not allowed to say to them.

This, all the while constantly insisting that the freedoms, luxuries and privileges enjoyed by the people of North Korea under the benevolent, prosperous and enlightened Kim rule far surpassed anything granted to us poor victims of greedy capitalism here in the West. And the guide gave every indication of absolutely believing everything she said.

One thing our client made very clear was that the rule of the Kim dictators goes way beyond mere totalitarianism and deep into the worst bowels of fundamentalist religion, with a fervour, zealotry and abhorrence of heresy that makes even the Inquisition or Hezbollah look like libertarians in comparison. Children are systematically taught in schools that Kim Il-Sung is to all intents and purposes God, that all good things in the world come from him, and all bad things come from disobeying him. It is dinned into them, every lesson, every day, at school and at home. Even the childrens' games involve adulation of the "Dear Guide."

And it is all done in such a convincing and manipulative manner - and my client described this as the worst horror she experienced - that she even started believing it herself within a week or so of staying there, so insidious was the constant propaganda bombardment. That was the real eye-opener. If they could come that close to convincing a skeptical western tourist in the time of a 3 week stay, of Kim's "kindness and love for his people", imagine what a lifetime of it must do to the poor sods who live there.

Now this hyper-religious despotism ruled by insanely egotistical nutjobs is threatening to murder millions of innocent people with nuclear weapons and fanatical warfare. It is not the USA, or Europe, or South Korea making these threats. It is North Korea's rulers themselves making these threats. And you have the gall to have a go at the Reg for taking the piss out of these bastards, simply to show us all how edgy and anti-establishment you are. Hooray. What a marvellous freedom-fighting hero. Clap, clap.

Yes, in your case, I really do hope "what goes around comes around", and "karma is a bitch". Hopefully you get to live in North Korea since you love it so much, if you think they're just a scapegoat for Western propaganda. You'd most likely really enjoy life there after a while.

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Mozilla floats payment simplification balloon

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: Never, ever, will this happen for me!

I hate to break it to you matey, but your money already isn't "offline." Every time you whip out your card at a shop counter, every time you use an ATM, even if you use a passbook in a bank at a teller's booth - how do you think the transaction gets processed? It goes into the computer and gets sent out across the internet via secure link in exactly the same way as you using a browser to access a bank website or shop online. And even though ATMs use their own custom network as opposed to the wider internet, it still has the same essential vulnerabilities. If,as you say, you work in the computer security industry, you would already know this.

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Steven Roper
Silver badge

Nice idea, but...

I really don't want the task of making online payments to be made so easy that it short-circuits my decision-making processes - which of course is what the advertisers and sellers want! As a web dev myself, I can see both sides of this.

By way of explanation, let me draw a comparison between buying in a shop and buying online: The difference is that in a shop, the buying decision is made at the shelf the product is stored in. You physically look at the product, decide if you want it or can afford it, and then put it back or put it in your shopping trolley accordingly. By the time you get to the checkout, the decision has pretty much been made, because very few people back out of buying something once they're at the counter. There's a kind of "public shame" associated with backing out of buying stuff once you've arrived at the counter for the cashier to ring up.

Online, however, you can click items into your cart willy-nilly, because come checkout time, there's no "public shame" and backing out of the purchase process at the last moment is easy. I know, because my job involves developing and maintaining e-commerce sites and "checkout abandonment" is a lot more common than in bricks-and-mortar shops. Finding ways of reducing this checkout abandonment is a major design issue for any e-commerce dev team, and it's what's behind this push by Mozilla.

For me, when I buy on line, I add things I like the look of to the cart as a way of "bookmarking" items I might want to buy; and the decision-making process comes when I am confronted with a credit-card entry form and see the total amount I'm about to spend. Do I really need to buy this right now? If not, just back out of the checkout and delete it from the cart. Or just abandon it altogether and keep searching for a better deal.

For this reason, my site designs always include an easy "cart <-> wishlist" transfer button next to each entry, so customers can instantly transfer items they don't want right now into their wishlist, allowing them to come back and buy it later if they wish. It's not a sale, but a wishlist is a whole lot better than an abandoned cart. And they can do that all the way up to the credit card form.

Conversely, when I'm in a bricks-and-mortar shop, I make the buying decision standing in the aisle looking at the product, because I know that once I head to the checkout it's like a psychological point of no return.

So for me, and probably for many others, eliminating the credit card form takes away that stop point. One easy click and bam - I've just spent way more than I meant to. Which, of course, is exactly what the sellers want; to eliminate the decision making process as much as possible to profit from all those impulse purchases. As a site developer, it's my job to make that happen.

And that is why, as a customer, I prefer to have to enter my credit card number for online purchases. It's where you stop and think about the fact that you're about to spend money; an equivalent of the in-shop counter - do I have everything I need, do I need everything in my cart? Take that away, and I suspect a lot more people will come to grief over overblown credit cards than is even happening now.

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Hubble boffins: Incredibly old supernova could explain EVERYTHING

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: Im confused.

"ℂ is infinite in any direction, but at no point do you find the same number!"

Yes you do. There is an infinite possible number of values between 0.999...[infinite decimal places]...99 and 1.000...[infinite decimal places]...01 but all of them are equal to 1. Infinity is weird like that. Like its reciprocal zero, it isn't really a number in its own right, and is neither 'large' nor 'small', but is simply a theoretical delimiter of any number set, that has no quantal value in itself.

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