* Posts by Steven Roper

1389 posts • joined 10 May 2011

New moon discovered around Neptune brings total to 14

Steven Roper
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It isn't a Death Star either, since it's only 19 km in diameter, the Death Star at ~160 km diameter (for the Alderaan-busting one) would eat that small moon for breakfast and not even notice...

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Ad man: Mozilla 'radicals' and 'extremists' want to wreck internet economy

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PM writes ISPs' web filter ads for them - and it must say 'default on'

Steven Roper
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@Dr Dan Holdsworth

"Block it, and big business will scream blue murder."

For now. As more and more people start using VPNs to hide their copyright-infringing and porn-surfing activities, they will come under greater scrutiny. We've already seen the start of this with Visa and Mastercard refusing to process payments to some VPN providers.

Ultimately what I can see ending up happening is that you'll eventually need some kind of "business licence" to use a VPN, and if you're detected using one without a licence (e.g. by sniffing your traffic and finding it encrypted to a specific domain all the time) you'll cop a hefty fine.

Of course, getting a VPN licence will cost a small fortune and you'll have to "reasonably prove that you require the use of a VPN in the normal course of business" or some legalese wank like that. This way, "big business" can still make use of VPNs as they need but the proles will be locked out of them and left exposed for Big Brother to spy on.

I predict the Western Nanny States (USA / UK / Aus / NZ / Canada) will introduce something like this within the next 5 years, as a greater proportion of the public cotton on to VPNs. And the endless march of the erosion of human liberties will continue...

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Rap for rap chap in crap rap app flap: Jay-Z blasted by privacy bods

Steven Roper
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"collected data unnecessary to the functioning of the Magna Carta app"

and

"deprived users of meaningful choice regarding the collection of their data"

These two points, right here. These are the core of the major problem with Android. Apps that require permissions outside their remit, and that are allowed to force such requirements as a condition of installation. (I wonder if there might be a false advertising charge there - calling them permissions when in fact they're requirements. May as well make the bastards call a spade a spade!)

Both of these points need to be countered, preferably by force of law since Google and their ilk have clearly shown they can't be trusted to self-regulate on this: 1) Apps should be required by law to demonstrate why they need any given permission, and 2) Google should be required by law to adjust Android so that a user can install an app without granting it any permissions (but if point 1 is addressed then users have no right to complain when an app doesn't work as advertised if they refuse, since it's demonstrated a need for the permission to function.) I'm right behind the EFF on this one.

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US Navy robot stealth fighter in first unmanned carrier landings

Steven Roper
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@ Matt Bryant

I just rewatched the Star Trek Voyager episode in which B'elanna has to go aboard a Cardassian-built, reprogrammed-for-the-Maquis, smart missile that got pulled into the Delta Quadrant and is now on its way to wipe out an innocent populated planet, thinking it's the original Cardassian target. The smart missile's computer assumes that B'elanna is being coerced by the Cardassians when she tries to shut it down, and does everything in its power to thwart her efforts.

I'd have to laugh if something similar happened to one of these drones. I'd be holding my sides if one of these things got turned arse-about-face and set off to take out the White House, dismissing all attempts to stop it as the result of its controllers acting under Chinese duress!

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Oh please, PLEASE bring back Xbox One's hated DRM - say Xbox loyalists

Steven Roper
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Flame

These people must be the same astroturfing fuckwads that skewed the survey indicating most Americans turned against Snowden for revealing PRISM. I'm normally against the death penalty, but there are those who sometimes convince me that the human gene pool might occasionally need chlorinating.

The other thing that shits me is this: It'll only take 8,000 signatures to get Microsoft to put back the DRM, while it took 8,000,000 signatures to get them to stop it. This is why I feel such hatred for these arseholes that support reduction of freedom - because of this social mechanism whereby it only takes one screaming fool to cause a company (or a government) to ratchet the wheel of oppression one more notch.

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Apple files patent for refrigerator-magnet iPads

Steven Roper
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Re: Curiouser and curiouser

"precise configurations that can be fitted into matched receptacles"

And that's what gives the game away.

It seems Apple intend to repeat the fiasco they pulled on the car manufacturers who were foolish enough to include iPod docks as factory in their cars. Now it seems the whitegoods manufacturers are going to be sucked into the same shit.

Build specifically-shaped (and patented, trademarked and copyrighted) holes on the front of their appliances, sell a shit load, and then change the design of the slot so if you upgrade your iWank, you have to buy a new fridge as well.

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'Clippy' coup felled by Microsoft twitterati

Steven Roper
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Hmmmm

That photo of Clippy looks suspiciously like a kick bag. Perhaps Ballmer got tired of replacing chairs while practicing his kung fu...

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Giant human-powered quadricopter wins $250,000 Sikorsky Prize

Steven Roper
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Leonardo, you WERE right on the money!

400 years after your groundbreaking designs, your dreams are vindicated. Man-powered flight is now a reality. The flying machine just needed to be... a tad bigger... than what you envisaged!

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Daddy-o, you're all wet... baffled by your own kids on the web - survey

Steven Roper
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Re: Parents can't figure out what their kids are up to

I can't say I bloody blame today's kids for wanting to hide their activities from their parents and other adults. Shit, I did as a kid, the last thing I wanted was for Dad to find out I was out egging cars and torching letterboxes...

Today's kids have even more reason to hide their activities. When you read reports about kids being punished for hugging each other on school grounds and arrested for making snarky Facebook comments or merely eating a biscuit into the shape of a fucking gun, I wouldn't be surprised if the commonest emotion felt by our youth towards our politically-correct helicopter-parent generation was one of cold, unforgiving hatred and distrust. I certainly couldn't blame them for it if they did.

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China prepares to lift 13-year game console ban – report

Steven Roper
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Re: Why not protect their jobs?

Unfortunately none of the smart countries speak English as their first language.

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Steven Roper
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Re: Difficult to believe

A couple of friends and I still play Age of Empires II faithfully every Wednesday night during our LAN sessions...

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STEVE BALLMER KILLS WINDOWS

Steven Roper
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Stop

...or anything resembling an argument.

Ok, MIc, here's an argument for you, using the time-honoured car analogy.

Many years ago, I and most everyone else on this forum learned, as part of their growing-up process, how to operate a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles all operate on approximately similar principles; direction is controlled by rotating a wheel who axis is approximately parallel to the long axis of the vehicle (or for large vehicles, parallel to the vertical axis), gear change in most cases is effected by moving a stick mounted vertically above the drive train or horizontally behind the steering wheel, a pedal activated by the right foot increases speed, while a pedal activated by the left foot decreases speed. In some cases a third pedal, also activated by the left foot, separates conjoined gear wheels so they can be shifted to match different ratios, allowing the vehicle a greater speed range.

Along with these principles are an associated set of rules one must abide by; a black number on a white round sign surrounded by a red border indicates the maximum speed you're allowed to go; you must stay on one particular side of the road (the left in the UK, Australia and Japan, the right everywhere else), a red circle with a white horizontal bar means you can't drive this direction; a red octagon with the word STOP in white letters means bring your vehicle to a complete halt until you've ascertained there's no opposing traffic. And so on, and so on.

Understanding all these principles requires considerable study and practice. This is why drivers go through stages of learning and provisional licences while they acquire the skills and experience necessary to safely operate a motor vehicle in public. The process takes years, and costs a lot of money.

Now, all of a sudden, some bright spark at, say, Ford or Toyota decides, for no reason other than wanting to make a mark on history, that these time-honoured and widely understood principles of driving no longer apply, and need to be replaced with... something else.

So, he decides, let's change everything. We'll replace the steering wheel with a slider bar; let's mount the gear change stick under the driver's seat; since the driver's now steering with one hand, we'll put in a lever for the other hand that when pulled backward makes the car go faster and when pushed forward makes the car slow down (just to be different, hey!). And we'll make the speed signs bright green squares with yellow numbers, because green and yellow are his favourite colours, and let's make the stop signs blue pentagons with a stylised upheld hand, because not everyone understands the English word STOP.

So what if everyone has spent thousands of dollars and years of their lives learning how to do everything the old way? Who gives a fuck about boring shit like people's life experiences and incomes? Get with the program slackers, adapt or die! We own the marketplace, most cars on the road are made by us, so we get to decide how everyone has to drive!

Naturally, the vast majority of people get pretty pissed off about this. They refuse to buy the new cars, or they start looking for other car manufacturers who will continue to build cars with steering wheels and accelerator and brake pedals. They don't see the need to spend hundreds of dollars and months on driver training to learn what they already know all over again, just because some idiot at Ford/Toyota wants change for change's sake.

Of course, all the boys and girls just coming out of school might like the new system, because they've never done it any other way, and they don't know any better, so they start mocking and deriding all the experienced adults who understand that the time-honoured method of driving a car was developed and optimised painstakingly over decades of R&D. They think that it's perfectly fine to throw all of that experience and research and skill out of the window simply because that's the old way, man.

So instead of hunting around for car yards selling the original design, like most experienced folks are now doing, they simply go to the shiny big car yard down the road and buy the new cars, causing our bright spark at Ford/Toyota to think his new design is selling well. But then this year's crop of school escapees have all bought their cars, and nobody in the majority of the populace with any life experience is buying them, and so new car sales drop through the floor.

And anybody who spent dollars and months learning the old way cheers loudly in support of anyone who speaks up and says that the new cars are rubbish, as a way of letting both our bright spark CEO and all the inexperienced schoolkids know, that you don't just throw away people's valuable and hard-earned skills, time and money just because you want make your mark on history.

Do you understand? It's not "negativity", it's "I don't fucking see why I should just throw away everything I've ever learned and spend my next years' profits on staff retraining just because Ballmer wants a piece of Apple and Samsung's sales."

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Google loses Latitude in Maps app shake-up

Steven Roper
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@ joekhul

I don't have a problem with ad supported services, as long as the ads aren't too intrusive (content-obscuring Flash rollovers and frantically animated gifs are just stupid), but what I do have a big problem with is being profiled, analysed, probed for weaknesses and psychological vulnerabilities in order to be manipulated into buying something I normally wouldn't.

I'm not so arrogant as to believe I am immune to psychological suggestion or manipulation carried out by professionals who have spent years studying the workings of the human mind and how to exploit them. I know I wouldn't stand a chance against someone like, say, Derren Brown. I am aware that I have vulnerabilities and I try to protect myself as best I can - by avoiding exposure to the kind of manipulative profiling carried out by the likes of Google and Facebook as much as possible.

Unfortunately that means I have to use things like Adblock to protect myself - even though I would like to allow Google-style text-only or still-image advertising if it supported the sites I enjoy. But only if said advertising is generic and not predicated upon cataloguing and exploiting my weaknesses.

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'Priyanka' yanks your WhatsApp contact chain on Android mobes

Steven Roper
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Joke

PEBKAC needs an upgrade

Since so many computing devices these days involve neither keyboards nor chairs, we need a new acronym to describe the error condition formerly known as PEBKAC.

Off the top of my head, I submit the admittedly mediocre PEBSAS - Problem Exists Between Screen And Sky. But I'm sure all the BOFHs among the commentards here can do a lot better. Suggestions in reply to this comment are eagerly awaited...

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US Congress proposal: National Park will be FOUND ON MOON

Steven Roper
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Re: WTF?

The USA is signatory to the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (1967), which among other things places all celestial bodies and their orbits under international law, and prohibits any state from laying claim to any celestial body or part thereof. So technically the United States is in violation of this treaty by assigning parts of the moon as 'National' Park space.

In reality, however, this treaty, like any other treaty, law, right or constitutional principle, is only as good as the ability of its proponents to enforce it. Once again, the only absolute right, in space or on earth, is the right of might, whether we like it or not. Who has the guns makes the rules.

I know I cop a swath of downvotes every time I say this, but no amount of downvoting can change this simple fact, perhaps most succinctly expressed by Napoleon's famous quote, "Le bon Dieu est toujours du côté des gros bataillons!"

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Microsoft: Still using Office installed on a PC? Gosh, you squares

Steven Roper
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@ Wayland Sothcott 1

I downvoted you because you're either 1) a tinfoil hatter concerned about chemtrails, or 2) making the comment about chemtrails as a way of sarcastically dismissing the concerns of those of us opposed to the cloud trend.

Either way, I disagree with your comment.

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Quantum: You know how EVERYONE's moved to the cloud? Yep... us too.

Steven Roper
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Re: Is the NSA subsidizing our move to "the cloud"

I should think this business with the NSA and Snowden may drive re-uptake of personal storage devices to some extent. I'd like to see Western Digital and Seagate's quarterly sales figures in three months' time. I predict we'll see some uptick in HDD sales.

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The Three Amigos offer sanctuary to cornered NSA leaker Snowden

Steven Roper
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@ AC 22:21

Funny, I have the suspicion that if he'd been downvoted instead you'd be saying the exact opposite.

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Samsung Galaxy S3 explodes, turns young woman into 'burnt pig'

Steven Roper
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Increased energy density leads to increased risk

Battery technology today has come a long way from what it was when I was a kid. Today's smartphones are computers in their own right, and they chew a lot of juice. We complain about having to charge our phones on a daily basis, but I'd imagine if we tried to run our phones off of the kind of AA, C or D cell batteries that ran my toys as a child, they wouldn't even last that long.

Today's flatpack lithium batteries pack a lot of oomph into a very small package. If that oomph gets out all at once, it's not at all surprising that explosions and third degree burns are the result. And the more we pack into these tiny powerhouses, the bigger the explosions are going to get.

I've seen people on these forums wishing for batteries that they only need charge once a week. Now if we assume that this is because you have to charge your phone on a daily basis, you're talking about a sevenfold increase in energy density. That means, if your battery goes pop, seven times the explosion. Which, if this example is anything to go by, results in walking around with a battery capable of lasting a week being the functional equivalent of having a stick of dynamite in your pocket.

Inevitably energy density will increase to and beyond this point, but it is something to keep in mind. I personally would rather have to remember to charge my phone each day, than not have to worry about it for a week in exchange for the very real risk of having my entire leg blown off. Or the risk of having essentially the same effect on those around me as a suicide bomber!

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Texas teen jailed for four months over sarcastic Facebook comment

Steven Roper
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Mushroom

Re: We would love too.

Yes, please do secede.

Hopefully other states might even follow your example. And the resulting Balkanization of the United States would be a very good thing for the rest of the world.

Because what with this article and the one about Americans turning against Snowden, your cesspit of a country is very high on my detestation list at the moment.

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US public hate Snowden - but sexpot spy Anna Chapman LOVES him

Steven Roper
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Surprise, surprise

On occasion, I get asked something along the lines of "If you could have any one thing you wanted, what would you wish for?"

My stock, pat answer to any question along these lines is, "The complete and utter destruction of the human race and all its works, and the planetary gene pool purged so that nothing like us could ever evolve again."

I've received many raised eyebrows, and people shocked at my immediate answer question me as to why I would want this, or question what makes me hate the human race so much.

This article answers that question.

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Health minister asks elderly patients what they think of data-sharing

Steven Roper
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@Lord of Cheese

I get where you're coming from, but it isn't the "tinfoil hatters" that are your problem. It's the weasel politicians who have shares in the IT and pharmaceutical companies, who want to violate everyone's privacy while being seen to be doing something about protecting it.

You see, most people rightly say something like "I want the NHS to be able to share my data with my doctors and personal carers, but not to be able to sell it to pharmaceutical corporations." Now some slimy pollie who owns shares in said IT and pharmaceutical companies doesn't want this, so he draws up some convoluted sneakily-worded claptrap bill about privacy protection that, at a casual reading, looks like it does what people want, but in reality does the exact opposite; viz. preventing data sharing between the NHS and doctors (which makes it look like privacy is being protected) while still allowing them to sell it to pharmaceutical companies (thus filling said slimy pollie's pockets.)

So people who want their privacy protected from commercial exploitation cop the blame as "tinfoil-hatters", while the real culprits, the thieving crooks who call themselves a government, come across as trying their very best to make the opposing requirements of privacy and expediency meet in the middle, while in reality they're using weasel tactics to pass twisted laws enabling them to fill their pockets with the profits from sale of our data.

And the end result is that people like yourself, who are trying to do your job as effectively as possible, are hampered at every turn by convoluted and corrupted legislation contrived to make it look like the pollies are doing the right thing, all the while letting them continue to get away with the very exploitation the public demanded this legislation to prevent.

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Credit card donations to WikiLeaks restored as Mastercard breaks ranks

Steven Roper
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Re: We refuse you permission to give your money to whom you want.

I'm quite glad Visa and Mastercard are playing their hand in this bullying fashion - first with Wikileaks, now with VPN providers.

The more they do this shit, the more they drive the uptake of Bitcoin. And that can only be a good thing. For example, I'd never bothered with Bitcoin myself until my VPN provider advised me they could no longer accept payment from my Mastercard. Result: I installed a Bitcoin client, bought myself some Bitcoins, and renewed my VPN subscription that way. So that's one more person they've pushed onto Bitcoin, and now that I've finally gone to the trouble of installing and adopting it, I'll be using it wherever it's accepted, instead of relying on my Mastercard. And I won't be the only one.

So keep on kicking those own goals, Visa and Mastercard, and help drive Bitcoin into the mainstream.

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BBC abandons 3D TV, cites 'disappointing' results

Steven Roper
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There was another brief resurgence of so-called "3D" around the end of the 70s / early 80s as I recall. Jaws 3 3D at the cinema set it off, and our local TV stations did a stint of 3D movies around the same time using those vile blue/red glasses which they distributed via the TV guide mags of the day.

So seems to me they try pushing this shit on the public roughly every 25-30 years or so, I suppose trying to rope in a new generation each time. So the recent Avatar craze is the third iteration, which thankfully now seems to be blowing itself out as before. At least now we'll hopefully be spared this bullshit for the next two or three decades...

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Steven Roper
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Re: Immersion is the key to 3D

The problem that killed virtual reality helmets was the 'elf 'n' safety nannies who 1) complained about the possibility of users blundering into things, then when that didn't get them banned, complained about the helmets being a vector for germs and lice and whatnot from multiple people wearing them. That pretty much put paid to the whole VR helmet idea, and without funding from public use to further R&D, the entire concept stalled.

I still fondly remember the "pterodactyl-on-a-chessboard" VR battle powered by two Amiga 3000s that was in the local sci-and-tech fair back in the early 90s. I still wonder how far that could have gone and where it would be today but for the do-gooders who killed the entire concept in its infancy for fear of "catching something".

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Cosmic blast mystery solved in neutron star's intense death throes

Steven Roper
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Go

Re: Brilliantly apposite sub-heading

OK Uffish, some friendly advice:

Before you watch the Star Wars movies for the first time, you should also Google "Star Wars Machete Order", which will explain why you shouldn't watch the movies in order of release, or in chronological order. In short, when you watch them for the first time, watch them in this order:

Episode IV (A New Hope) - Episode V (The Empire Strikes Back) - Episode II (Attack of the Clones) - Episode III (Revenge of the Sith) - Episode VI (Return of the Jedi).

Note that Episode I (The Phantom Menace) is not in that list. That's because 1) it's utter shite, and 2) it adds nothing to the story that cannot be inferred from watching the other movies. Watching the movies in this order, called "machete order" sets up the storylines such that the big climax in Return of the Jedi is greatly intensified by the dramatic events in Revenge of the Sith, and adds a lot more depth to the characters of Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker.

If you watch the movies in machete order, the impact they'll have on you is much greater, and the story will make a lot more sense, than if you watch them in traditional order. If you want more afterwards, you can go back and watch Episode I after you've seen all the other movies, as a kind of "supplemental" movie as it were. But watch them in the above machete order first. You'll enjoy them that much more!

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Samsung isn't alone: HTC profits take a huge dive

Steven Roper
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Re: Not in the mood to swap phones anymore

Finally!

I've been waiting for this news to break, if only to silence the tablet fanatics ranting about how the desktop PC is dead and tablets are the only way of the future. All I can say is, welcome to the effects of market saturation! Once everyone who can afford one has one, you aren't going to sell any more - or at least, you're only going to sell at replacement levels. This is what has happened to the PC market, and it's what's happening to the tablet/smartphone market now.

The only reason IT has been a lucrative market up until now is because of the incremental advancement of the technology spurring upgrade purchasers. Contrast this with, say, transistor radios. A radio does one thing - it receives broadcast radio waves from a specified frequency, and converts those radio waves into sounds a human can hear. Thus the pocket radio reached saturation levels very quickly, because there's no real way to improve on such a simple function. A pocket radio from the 70s sounds much the same as a pocket radio from the 2000s, and does exactly the same thing.

Computers, on the other hand, for the past 30 years have been able to do more and more, have been increasingly put to more varying uses, and it is this ongoing extension of their abilities that has created an artificially long-lasting take-up market. I recall in the 80s, using a computer as a means of watching movies or listening to pre-recorded music (as opposed to C64 SID chiptunes and Amiga tracker mods) was unimaginable. They simply didn't have the memory or CPU power. I remember the first time I got an mp3 to play on my Amiga 1200 (and that was putting my 68030/68882 combo racer board through its paces as I recall!), and it opened up a whole new world of uses that had been inaccessible to computers before.

So with the increasing power of computers over the years, people continued to upgrade as new abilities were opened up by improvements in CPU, RAM and HDD capacity. After mp3 came avi, blocky and slow at first, but getting better until HD/Blu-Ray appeared. Then there was another round of upgrades to be able to play the new 720p and 1080p video, and a raft of increasingly realistic computer games (but can it play Crysis?!) Until now, 30+ years after the mass-market adoption of the first home computers, an application limit has been reached. There's nothing new that computers can do that they couldn't do 5 years ago.

My own current PC is a 2009 vintage 3.2 GHz quad-core AMD with 8GB of RAM that still does everything I need done, fast enough to satisfy my heaviest demands, and I have no plan to upgrade in the foreseeable future. This is why market stagnation has set in - just as it did with the humble transistor radio 40 years ago.

And now, it seems, that point has been reached with tablets and phones as well. At long last!

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Decade to 2010 was hottest, wettest: WMO

Steven Roper
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Stop

The question isn't whether or not the climate is changing. Of course it's changing. It's been changing ever since the Earth accreted an atmosphere 4 billion years ago. I'd be very concerned if it had stopped changing!

Will the ice caps melt and glaciers disappear? Probably. There were no ice caps for long stretches during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, and at other times more recently as well. There have been other times where the ice caps extended almost to the tropics. Given the lack of moisture and living space that would entail, I think we can be glad the Earth is in a warming-up phase.

No, the real questions are: How much of this warming is part of a natural climate change process and how much of it is due to human activity? As with all political arguments, people tend to move toward extremes; oil companies claim none of it is due to human activity, treehuggers claim all of it is. The reality is most likely somewhere in between, and exactly where that lies is the main issue, because it determines what we can or cannot do about it.

Acceding to the treehuggers' wishes that we should give up using technology, eating meat, and revert to being vegan cave-dwellers isn't the solution. Neither is hiking the price of electricity to the point where lighting your house becomes a prerogative of the rich. Even if we went these roads, the planet would likely continue warming, because it's still coming out of the last ice age. That means sea levels are going to rise, places like Florida are going to end up as the new Atlantis, and there's going to be lots of rain in lots more places, whether we do anything about it or not. The only thing we can do, whether we revert to hunter-gatherer or cover every square metre of the planet with wind turbines and solar panels, is slow the process down by a miniscule amount.

So rather than destroying civilisation in the name of saving the planet, we should be looking at how we can adapt to the changes that are coming. We need to look at what crops and animals will flourish in a warmer wetter climate, so we can continue to feed ourselves. We need to start moving population centres away from low-lying areas, or terraforming those areas against encroaching sea levels (like the Netherlands have been doing successfully for a long time now!) We need to start preparing for, and adapting to, the changes that are coming.

Not running around like headless chickens hoping to stop the inevitable changes by plastering windmills all over the landscape and raising electric and fuel bills to the level of the GDP of a small country.

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Rest your head against a train window, hear VOICES in your SKULL

Steven Roper
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Devil

Re: Marketoids: be very very careful about advertising on commuter trains...

That would explain why one well-known movie prediction never came true, against all my expectations - once the movie came out, I was expecting to see it appear on buses and trains alike within months...

"For the memory of a lifetime, Rekall, Rekall, Rekall!"

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3-2-1... BOOM: Russian rocket launches, explodes into TOXIC FIREBALL

Steven Roper
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Joke

Re: mass driver

A mass driver to get a projectile into orbit under Earth gravity, with sufficient initial force to also punch said projectile through 150 miles of atmosphere?

Enjoy your 500-G tomato-paste take off, matey!

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Windows 8 apps pass 100K, Windows 8 passes Vista

Steven Roper
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So Windows 8 has passed Vista? That's about as noteworthy as the moment when XP passed Windows Me.

Wake me when it passes Windows 7. Although I'd say by then I'll be running Mint on the desktop and Firefox OS on my mobile devices, so it won't matter to me anyway.

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Firefox OS mobilises HTML5, without the added Steve Jobs

Steven Roper
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Stop

It will catch on, simply because right now it's the only mobile OS that doesn't invade your privacy, give some faceless corporation complete control of your device, and profile your entire private life for profit.

Anyone who's rightly concerned about the invasive and overbearing control companies like Google, Microsoft and Apple maintain over your device, will look at FirefoxOS and immediately realise it's the only option, if actually owning your own device (rather than "paying to borrow" it from a corporation) matters to you.

Want a device you can distribute any app for without it having to be "approved" by a walled-garden software vendor? Firefox OS.

Want a device you don't have to "sign in" on an online account to use so the OS vendor can monitor your every action? Firefox OS.

Want a device you can install an app on without worrying that the OS vendor can "pull the plug" and remove it from your device whether you want it or not? Firefox OS.

Want a device where you decide the permissions and access an app is allowed to have, not the app distributor - so no more "weather apps" that needlessly require access to your contact list? Firefox OS.

Want a device you can save your own data securely and locally on, instead of trusting your most personal and confidential data to some PRISM-infested cloud storage? Firefox OS.

Oh yeah, I think it'll "catch on"!

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Firefox OS starting small but thinking big says Mozilla CTO

Steven Roper
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Ticks the right boxes so far

Having gone over the privacy policy for Firefox OS, it certainly doesn't look nearly as invasive as Android or Windows 8.

One thing I really like is the ability to use the OS without having to "sign in" to an online account, thereby assuring that the OS isn't "phoning home" about everything I do. This is a disturbing trend I've seen of late from all the major OS vendors, so it's gratifying to see Mozilla isn't jumping on the "we want to monitor everything you do" bandwagon.

The Do Not Track integration is a good point as well, and I really hope that this will also entail more effective granular control of permissions for apps than is afforded on Android, e.g. a weather app wants access to my contact list despite a weather app having no need to do so, but if I refuse the permission I can't use the app. I'm hoping Firefox OS won't allow this bullshit "forced permission" policy.

So I'm definitely interested at this stage, I've got an el cheapo Android tablet on the way from China which I'll be using as a testbed for Firefox OS when it arrives, and we'll see where it goes from there.

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Unix luminary among seven missing at sea

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: I do not like this, it better not be a trend

You forgot Dennis C. Ritchie, the inventor of C, in that list.

But you're right about being worried over this death watch. Bill Gates better watch out, he might be next!

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Facebook slurped phone numbers says Norton

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Kakaotalk

"...that they could be endangering relatives who have restraining orders against one or more people in my contact list...."

This, a thousand times this. All you "but I have nothing to hide, so why should I be worried" morons should take careful note of exactly this kind of issue. This sort of thing is why privacy is vitally important, and it is just one example of why the tired old "nothing to hide, nothing to fear' argument is invalid.

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Yahoo! announces last hurrah of ancient AltaVista search

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Devil

@theodore

Not so much people who just 'click on things', as 'people who install so-called free software that also asks to install half-a-dozen toolbars and spyware bundled with the installer.'

Somebody wants to convert a video file to play on their phone, so they google 'convert xvid to mp4', download the first program that pops up, click Next Next Next, and hey presto, they've plastered the Ask Toolbar all over their system and their default browser is now Google Chrome. Cue phone call to ol' Steve to 'come and fix my computer because my internet is broken' yet again...

That's where most of that toolbar shit comes from.

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Our week with Soylent: Don't chuck out your vintage food quite yet

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Go

Re: Soylent Green!

I'd say give them a raise. Using the name "Soylent", with all its loaded connotations, has given them more free media publicity, viral awareness, and public discussion than they could have gotten in a decade of multi-million dollar astroturfing for a less memorably-named product. Without the "Soylent" moniker, it would have been just another tasteless meal-replacement shake among the thousands of similar diet products out there.

As one example, I wonder how much it would cost to hire Team Register to carry out a week-long, 24/7, sponsored trial and review of a dietary product, with all the related articles appertaining, like the one they've just done for Soylent for free? I imagine it would be in the tens of thousands of dollars, minimum, for a sponsored effort of this scale.

And that's just The Register. The cost to plaster it all over all the other news sites, forums and mass-media I've seen it discussed on would run into the multiple millions. Instead, they've garnered massive worldwide free publicity, just by using a name from a famous dystopian story.

Makes me think Samsung should market their new gesture-recognising OLED TVs as "telescreens", or perhaps Monsanto should promote their next GM crop plants as "triffids"!

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Using encryption? That means the US spooks have you on file

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: Perhaps

If you are using curtains on your windows and you don't have excessively light-sensitive skin, maybe you have something to hide? It's a two way street.

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I, for one, welcome our GIANT TITANIUM INSECT OVERLORDS

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: Terrific

Well, given that in Australia we have cockroaches the size of mobile phones and spiders as big as rats I wouldn't have thought any scaling was necessary either way...

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Julian Assange: Google's just an arm of US government

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: No, but seriously ...

"People have the right to their own thoughts, except where they are considered mentally ill (ie thinking the 'wrong' thoughts) and treated against their will."

At no point should any thought, no matter how evil, perverted, delusional or twisted, be a reason for depriving a person of liberty. That way lies the concept of 'thoughtcrime' and we all know where that leads.

If I want to think about ways of inventing grey goo to wipe out all life on Earth because I believe all human beings including myself are greedy scum who deserve to die, that's my prerogative to think that as a free man. Nobody has the right to imprison or "treat" me for simply thinking or imagining this scenario. My simply thinking evil thoughts poses no threat to anyone.

If, however, I were to start applying this thought process to action by actually trying to develop said grey goo, funding its development, or recruiting people to assist me in its development, then it becomes a problem warranting opposing action. That's because my evil thoughts are now being translated to evil acts, which do pose a threat to others.

By definition, any 'rights' you have are of necessity limited by the 'rights' of others. The most fundamental of all human rights is the right to be treated the same as any other human being in regard to the law, from which all other rights evolve. Freedom of speech does not include the right to take away another's freedom of speech (this is why I hate political correctness.) Freedom of assembly does not include the right to take away other people's right to assemble. Freedom from hunger does not give you the right to inflict it on others. And so on.

But freedom of thought is an uncontestable absolute, indeed it is the only uncontestable absolute, because of all things in this world it exists only in your own head, belongs only to you, and affects nobody else, as long as it remains but a thought.

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Swedish watchdog: Google's chocolate cloud? Nej, not private

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Linux

Re: Closed Source Software == security risk of espionage (confidentiality violation)

"When there flows no money, how would the decisionmaker have their bathroom renovated and the next yacht tour paid for ?"

Why not ask companies like Red Hat, SUSE and Canonical that question? They seem to be doing ok. Granted, Canonical's business model might be a bit on the nose for many of its users at the moment, but the company doesn't seem to be suffering too much for it.

There are ways of making money with open source. If there weren't, how long do you think it would continue to exist?

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New material enables 1,000-meter super-skyscrapers

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Any rope is the problem

Well, the next step up from that is what Star Trek euphemistically referred to as "turbolifts".

Once you replace the old Otis rope-and-counterweight system with a rail-based one (even if it's only a rack-and-pinion type rail drive rather than a maglev) it becomes possible to construct points and sidings by which lifts can be shunted and routed around each other. This would save on shaft space by allowing multiple lifts to occupy the same track while still having the possibility of passing each other by swapping rails at the points as needed.

Of course the downside of any rail-driven lift system is power consumption, because you now have to have an engine on the lift car itself driving the car against gravity. This is why the rope-and-counterweight system was invented in the first place - the counterweight means that the only force that has to be overcome is the inertia of the lift car, counterweight and rope - only the difference between the car and counterweight has to be hauled against gravity. (Note that Earth's gravity counts for quite a lot of power; it's the equivalent of going from 0 - 100 km/h in 2.8 seconds, continuously.)

With modern technology, however, the power consumption increase inherent in using a rack-and-pinion driven lift could be offset by using the same regenerative braking system used in electric cars. A lift could generate energy on the way down, by using its gravitational downward motion to charge a battery via its motor-generators. This energy can then be re-used for the upward trip; the entropic loss can easily be made up via a live rail and hot shoe system delivering extra power to the lift. I'd be interested to see what the difference in power use for such a system would be compared to the traditional rope-and-counterweight system. Any engineers care to comment?

With a system like this, there'd be no theoretical limit to the height of the shaft either, other than whatever structural compression limits might obtain on the materials used to construct the shaft and the building itself.

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NSA whistleblower to tech firms, Obama: 'Grow a pair!'

Steven Roper
Silver badge
Flame

Re: It's true

"I hope that Snowden suffers a very long, painful ending."

And I hope that you (and all like you) find yourself on the pointy end of a false positive real soon. You deserve it.

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NSA: We COULD track you by your phone ... if we WANTED to

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: e911

" 'Location Services On' and '911 Emergency Only'"

I think you meant: 'Location Services On' and '911 Emergency / Security Agency Monitoring Only'

FTFY!

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Confidence in US Congress sinks to lowest level ever recorded

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: ...and what's worse...

And what's more, that tells me that we CAN blame the average American for their country's warlike foreign policy and aggression. That 75% that supports the US military, supports the millions of deaths that have occurred as they bomb other countries to further their own interests. The blood of every murdered family, every slaughtered child, is on those supporters' hands as much as any soldier's.

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#Facebook: Now all your hashtags ARE BELONG TO US, Twitter

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: Court proceedings?

Except that Twitter is an actual technology company, not just a law firm like Apple.

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Boffins develop 'practically free' sulphur-powered batteries

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: You spell it sulphur, I spell it ...

When I hear an American pronounce aluminium as AL-oo-MIN-ee-um instead of a-LOOM-in-um as well as spelling it correctly, then I'll start spelling the name of Element 16 as sulfur instead of sulphur.

I'm still spelling it sulphur so far...

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Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: excellent

My thoughts exactly too.

It's not battery companies or oil companies buying and burying patents, it's a university student's fabricated project to get their bit of paper.

This is another bunch of graduate students bigging up some bullshit for their theses so they can get their degrees. Once they have those they'll go on to their cushy desk jobs, the battery plans will disappear into an archive box in the university library's basement, and shit will go on as always.

This has happened so often it's completely destroyed the credibility of the university system as far as I'm concerned. This is why, when I'm hiring and an applicant presents me with a university degree, I just toss it straight back at them. I'm not interested in pieces of paper that tell me you can bullshit a professor, I want to see what you can do. Can't show me? Thanks for coming, good luck in your future endeavours.

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Jailed LulzSec hacker Cleary coughs to child porn images, will be freed soon

Steven Roper
Silver badge

Re: Under UK Law

" he should have gotten rid of the images immediately if he didn't know what they were when downloading them"

The problem there is that when they seize your computer on suspicion of kiddy porn, they do forensic recovery on the hard drive. So if you do suddenly spot that what you thought was an episode of Game of Thrones turns out to be a masked rar of naked children, go "oh shit!" and delete it, you'll likely get done for tampering with evidence and impeding a police investigation for the act of doing so.

The sad fact is, the moment that shit ends up on your computer, intentionally or not, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.

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