* Posts by Tony Haines

88 posts • joined 12 Jun 2007

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Cyber-security's dirty little secret: It's not as bad as you think

Tony Haines

Re: calling all Mathematicians

It isn't.

I think you're referring to this:

"while 10 homicides in a small town of 1,000 is terrifying, 100 in a city of 10 million would be considered low. The second is still 10 times the first."

It might have been altered since your comment, I suppose.

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Evil computers sense you’re in a hurry and mess with your head

Tony Haines

Re: Printing theses and dissertations

"All being different models - and not the exact same O/S and update level."

Given Microsoft's attitude to WYSIWYG[1] that's optimistic, to say the least. I once saw a student try to print a patch - a single page in the middle of a long document, transferred from one machine to another. The OS was the same, Office was the same, the printer was ... a subtly different model in the same line[2].

The document paginated differently. Not ideal to have deleted and duplicated text.

That was a long time ago, but only last year my boss found that a Word document - which it was essential fit onto two pages - ran on to a third on his home computer.

[1] I think they heard about it, and decided they want no part of it.

[2] It probably had an 'e' after the number, or something like that.

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Google, Adobe barricade Flash against hacker hordes – we peek inside

Tony Haines

Re: Adobe had a chance to fix flash and take over the world.

You mean like this spec here?

http://www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/devnet/actionscript/articles/avm2overview.pdf

(note - you'll need to merge the lines to get a functioning URL)

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Tony Haines

"Flash can detect this and crash before a vulnerability is exploited."

Did you mean halt - or is the only way to stop a flash script to run it into the buffers?

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Happy NukeDay to you! 70 years in the shadow of the bomb post-Trinity

Tony Haines

Re: Scientific rigour

Yes. If you know what the outcome will be, then it isn't an experiment at all.

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Identity protection outfit LifeLock picked, popped

Tony Haines
Coat

Re: "picked, popped"

I don't know, but I think weasels were involved.

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Why is that idiot Osbo continuing with austerity when we know it doesn't work?

Tony Haines

Re: Cheques vs cash

//If you mailed out cash, you'd certainly stimulate the criminal economy. Not sure if that's what the government really wants, however.//

Actually I had visions of emptying bags of loose notes out of skyscraper windows...

Hey, I think I've got it.

Who spends all their money?

Children.

Let's give them... say, 30 pence or so per day they go to school.

By my calculations this would drop about a million pounds into local economies per schoolday.

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Tony Haines

Cheques vs cash

//Sending out stimulus cheques in the US (George Bush essentially saying, send everyone cheques for dollars as a method of stimulus) did work. But it was noted that if people were sent one for a few hundred, or a reasonable portion of a thousand or so, then they would indeed save it, use it to pay down debt, and that's not stimulative activity.//

When I get a check it goes into my bank account as a matter of course. I might put it in savings while I'm at the bank.

Would it be more efficient to give out cash?

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Microsoft spunks $500m to reinvent the wheel. Why?

Tony Haines

Maybe the source code has become such a creeping horror of badly implemented features, bugs and their workarounds that no-one can change it anymore, so trying again with a better foundation is the plan?

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IT-savvy US congressmen to Feds: End your crypto-backdoor crusade

Tony Haines

//Second, they make the hard-to-argue point that any backdoor “can be exploited by bad actors such as criminals, spies and those engaged in economic espionage.”//

But isn't that exactly why they want it?

Is there a word or phrase for when both sides of the argument use the same fact to draw different conclusions?

If not, I propose we call it an Adams' dolphin standoff.

//For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.//

― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

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It's the Internet of Feet: Lenovo shows smart shoes, projector keyboard phone

Tony Haines

//The economies of shoe production ... Branding and distribution are also major costs as is the disposal of unsold stock.//

Can't they just push unsold shoes (that they can't even reduce the prices on) into shoe recycling bins for free?

Well, it would be easier to hand them over in bulk, but regardless - surely disposal can't be a big cost.

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Candy-cane optimism tastes sweet in Disney’s Tomorrowland

Tony Haines

Re: makes you feel a bit warm and fuzzy.

// but am surprised it's a 12A instead of PG.//

All I've seen is the trailer, and I suspect that seeing people getting sliced into chunks by lasers earnt it that for starters.

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Please no non-consensual BACKDOOR SNIFFING, Mr Obama

Tony Haines

Re: WTF Richard Head

//The single most f***** stupid thing any person could ever say.//

I disagree. It's not even the stupidest thing Cameron's said recently.

For example, there's this:

"For too long we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone,”

Or maybe that's not stupid, in which case it's very scary indeed.

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Lies, damn lies and election polls: Why GE2015 pundits fluffed the numbers so badly

Tony Haines
Devil

Re: As with any survery

//why not ban polling during the campaign?//

//The Internet makes a nonsense of it though//

Okay, one possibility - we go with it, and game the crap out of all polls on the internet.

It'll give MI5 something savoury to do for a change.

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Flash banishes the spectre of the unrecoverable data error

Tony Haines

Hold on a second...

//So RAID 5 for consumer hard drives is dead.//

You seem to be saying that a single URE event means the entire restore has failed.

I'd always understood that the risk of failure for RAID is that too many disks crap out entirely, before you're rebuilt the set. But you seem to be saying that this is not the case.

If the failure to recover a single sector means that everything is lost, I think the priorities of the system are questionable.

I mean, I have a few very important files, and very much more stuff which I'd like to keep, but could get by without. I make extra copies of the former on other media.

If (i was using RAID and) recovery did go wrong, I'd expect it to recover everything it could, and apologise profusely for the odd file which was lost. If instead it wigs out and fails then you're better off not having it in the first place.

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Shields up! Shields up! ASTRONAUTS flying to MARS will arrive BRAIN DAMAGED, boffins claim

Tony Haines

Re: Not really equivalent

As I said I did just scan the paper - and I didn't do any checking on the numbers - but I think they do address that. They're concerned about cosmic rays - which cause a sudden, large amount of damage along their path through secondary ionisation. So although the _average_ dose throughout the trip might be low, it'll have occasional high spikes. It's these spikes that they're trying to model.

// Our data clearly demonstrate that low-dose HZE particle exposure leads to persistent impairments in behavioral performance ...//

They do mention that the exposure isn't exactly like a cosmic ray strike:

// Although we cannot simulate exactly the complex and prolonged charged particle irradiation pattern encountered in space, ...//

So they're at the very least thinking about how the exposure works.

In practice, animal experiments are not cheap and easy, so they tend to be planned out carefully. I suspect that it would be difficult to get ethical approval for a half-arsed random exposure experiment, even if the law on that in America is less stringent than the UK.

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Tony Haines

Re: Not really equivalent

Having very quickly eyeballed the paper, which is freely accessible, I don't think that's actually what they did.

They exposed mice to a dose of ionising radiation (they say a low dose - as I understand it, intended to be equivalent to space-flight), then six weeks later, found this impaired performance.

From the paper:

//The persistent reduction in the ability of irradiated animals to react to novelty after such low-dose exposures suggests that space-relevant fluences of HZE particles can elicit long-term cognitive decrements in learning and memory.//

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WHY can't Silicon Valley create breakable non-breakable encryption, cry US politicians

Tony Haines

Re: asymmetric-key decryption

//Unfortunately, we already have it - it is public-key encryption.//

Could I have some clarification on this please? Because I'm unsure whether you're pointing out something I don't understand, or you just didn't understand what I was proposing.

I was describing a system which

a) I can decrypt easily using my key

b) the government can decrypt using their key, but it requires an industrial-scale infrastructure a day to do so.

c) without either key, can't be decrypted before the heat-death of the universe.

//One of the reasons tri-stability doesn't exist, is due to the basics of mathematical logic that pivot on true/false.//

Are you suggesting here that it's impossible to have a crypto system to have two keys with different complexities of decryption?

Because given that we already have satisfactory sub-systems:

1) crypto systems where the plaintext can be recovered using two independent keys (I think these basically just encrypt a random 'true key' using each key and store them all along with the encoded message)

2) crypto systems where encryption and decryption have different keys (i.e. public key encryption)

3) proof of work functions with selectable difficulty, which (3b) can be iterated to smooth out the success rate

I reckon that combining them together is essentially an engineering exercise. One could bodge it together using existing functions (see below), so it can't be impossible. A more elegant synthesis would be desirable.

If (1) works how I suggest above, it trivially works with public key encryption(2). And we could not store quite all the government's encoding of the true key to get (3). So they'd have to attempt decryption multiple times (which they could do in parallel). Then we repeat this multiple times, so a smaller facility wouldn't occasionally get lucky (3b).

Of course others have pointed out that it's not going to be something the smart crims use, but that's not what they asked for.

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Tony Haines

asymmetric-key decryption

You know how password cracking is mitigated with a slow-to-compute hash?

How about the same sort of deal for encryption?

Data can be encrypted in a manner which can be decrypted using two independent keys. I don't pretend to understand the maths behind that.

But would it be possible to massively sway the processing intensity such that one key was 'easy' (i.e. as compute-intensive as strong encryption is today) and the other is, say, a trillion times harder?

Then the device manufacturer could generate a hard key (per device), give it to the government, and we could all relax, secure in the knowledge that they could only decrypt our files if they really wanted to - so they'd have to target their search.

Obviously this only provides protection until processing power increases in the future.

Ideally there would be an untamperable device into which the hard password would be entered, then that could be passed off to law enforcement. If there were only one machine able to decrypt data (per manufacturer, say), then they'd have to prioritise what to run past it. But the untamperable nature would always be a little bit suspect.

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DARPA's made a SELF-STEERING 50-cal bullet – with video proof

Tony Haines

Re: "imagine what a trained Scout Sniper can do"

I remember reading an article - years ago - about guided bullets for aircraft. IIRC it was in Scientific American, but it could have been New Scientist or similar.

Anyway, the intended design involved the bullet flexing as it span, in one specific 'fold'. As the bullet is spinning, this has to happen very quickly, but this means that it can guide itself in any direction, and doesn't have additional drag.

The stated target price was high (again IIRC - $50 per bullet), but there were nevertheless expected to be savings from using a single round, rather than "filling the skies with lead".

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Something's missing in our universe: Boffins look into the SUPERVOID

Tony Haines

the answer

That's no moon...

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The Internet of things is great until it blows up your house

Tony Haines

Re: No Codes for You

//What are you going to be making that tag out of that will last for the entire usable life of the clothing that you will also want to allow to come into contact with your skin? What happens with clothes that lose their tags?//

It doesn't matter. Whatever the garment is, the tag would say "do not tumble-dry; cool iron".

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Pumping billions into data centres won't guarantee you an empire

Tony Haines

Re: The Laughing Curve?

What?

It's pretty obviously a frowning curve.

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Google throws a 180 on its plans for Dart language

Tony Haines

Can't they do both?

...compiler outputs both javascript and dart, and the browser chooses which it prefers.

That way if dart proves faster, the other browsers can migrate to it when they're ready.

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Becoming Steve Jobs biography: ‘Much of it was chutzpah and self delusion’

Tony Haines

//But Gates trounces Jobs in hardware by understanding that corporates want speed and reliability//

...seriously?

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I see what you've done, there, twiiter.com: Tweet troops tackle tech twin

Tony Haines

Re: All these came after they started

//So why didn't they grab up all the misspelled domains when they started?//

Number of domains with one duplicate character, eg 'twitterr' : 6 (not 7, because of duplicate t)

Number of domains with one keyboard-adjacent char, eg 'yitter' (all appropriate chars are legal): 56

Number of domains with one additional keyboard-adjacent char before or after each char, eg ytwitter : ... lots

Number of domains with two characters transposed eg wtitter ... some more

And that's just for starters.

Obviously they could get a few obvious ones, and with some research perhaps the most common typos... but all? Could start to get a little expensive.

And that's a recurring cost.

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It's not easy being Green. But WHY insist we knit our own ties?

Tony Haines

Re: Yes, but,

//If I can make a cheaper and better chocolate cake using ingredients sourced at retail cost ...//

If you can, then please make me one. I have money. And I'm sure others will want some too - you should set up a business making chocolate cake (using ingredients purchased more cheaply in bulk).

Or you might find that you need to charge for your time and effort and that puts the cost up a little.

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'It's NOT FAIR!' yell RICH KIDS ... and that's a GOOD THING

Tony Haines

Hmm...

There's actually two different behaviours measured in this type of experiment.

One is what proportion is offered, the other is what proportions would be accepted. We shouldn't conflate them. The former is altruism, the latter spite.

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US Navy's LASER CANNON WARSHIP: USS Ponce sent to Gulf

Tony Haines

Re: "...under the terms of the Geneva Convention it can't be used against humans directly..."

"I'm not aware of the US resorting to that sort of terrorist type tactic though."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_phosphorus_use_in_Iraq

//We fired "shake and bake" missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out."//

You are now.

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Tony Haines

Re: science eh?

"What about all those technologies that came out of war that are now used in civilian life all the time?"

Penicillin is a technology which came out of civilian life and was scaled up just in time to be used in war. Maybe the need to treat large numbers of casualties sped up the scale-up, but it would have happened regardless.

The early computer work was war related but probably had little effect due to failure to complete (difference engine) or secrecy (WWII cypher-breaking classification). By accounts some of the main proponents of computer development (particularly Tommy Flowers) succeeded in spite of the war machine, not because of it. They may well have had the inclination to develop the machine off their own bat if the war had not occurred.

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DNA egghead James Watson sells Nobel prize for $4.8m, gets it back

Tony Haines

Re: Not more Rosalind Franklin stuff

"...This is a false perspective as nobody knew what carried hereditary information..."

Nonsense.

The Avery MacLeod McCarty experiment published in 1944 had shown DNA as the transforming principal.

This was surprising and therefore contested; further experiments were done in the following years, confirming it.

Franklin was perhaps over-cautious. But then, she apprarently didn't want to publish an incorrect model - which seems reasonable when you consider that several published models had already been proved wrong. This including a triple helix by Watson and Crick which she'd blown out the water. No really, she pointed out that their DNA model didn't have enough water molecules in it, something they should have known but had forgotten.

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Two driverless cars stuffed with passengers are ABOUT TO CRASH - who should take the hit?

Tony Haines

"...two autonomously driven vehicles, both containing human passengers, en route for an “inevitable” head-on collision on a mountain road."

One might hope that autonomous cars would be programmed to drive defensively. Such a situation therefore *should not* occur. However, it *may* occur due to bugs (i.e. programmer error), malfunction or hacking. I don't think any of those cases warrant the other car sacrificing its passengers. Otherwise, we have the potential for an out-of-control car forcing numerous other vehicles off the road in serial encounters.

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Poll trolls' GCHQ script sock puppets manipulate muppets

Tony Haines

Where is stealth mountain when you need it?

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Reg mobile man: National roaming plan? Oh UK.gov, you've GOT to be joking

Tony Haines

Re: Not on the side of the consumer then...

Would it be worth rural folks getting their phone contract from the continent then?

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'I get it if you don't make money for 2 or 3 years, but Amazon's 21'

Tony Haines

Re: AI

That's odd, because I have heard the opposite. Every time there's progress, intelligence gets redefined.

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MAVEN snaps eight-bit SPACE INVADER

Tony Haines

The tricky last one

I'm not going to worry until it suddenly moves closer then starts going back in the other direction.

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Trips to Mars may be OFF: The SUN has changed in a way we've NEVER SEEN

Tony Haines

Re: Maybe the Chinese will carry the torch

I think I'd put my money on India.

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Want a more fuel efficient car? Then redesign it – here's how

Tony Haines

I was thinking he'd whop the seats because racecar.

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Trolls have DARK TETRAD of personality defects, say trickcyclists

Tony Haines

Well played

"Does that sound familiar, commentards?"

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, it does.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/12/study_shoes_that_online_comment_trolls_are_sadists/

Also ... nice shoes there Rik.

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OMG!! With nothing but MACHINE TOOLS, STEEL and PARTS you can make a GUN!!

Tony Haines

Feds**** ~ Tourettes syndrome.

I was sh*t the author wa**er. F***ing. Relieved ****.

* aken to read this article, sure tha

**s swearing - so many footnotes, away on another page. Might as well have been written on a piece of pap

***inally I made it to the end

**** to find out that I was mistaken.

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Home Depot ignored staff warnings of security fail laundry list

Tony Haines

Re: Get a proofreader.

It's unvelievable!

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Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport

Tony Haines

Re: the public was never in danger

I disagree. The greatest risk was that if she hadn't discovered the explosives she would have be arrested as a terrorist on her next flight.

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Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?

Tony Haines

Re: In one word - transients

//So how do you get from here to there?//

Perhaps by changing the rules so far off in the future that the changes will be priced in by the time we get there? I've heard this method proposed a the strategy for reducing agricultural subsidies.

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Ninja Pirate Zombie Vampires versus Chuck Norris and the Space Marines

Tony Haines

hang on..

I'm a bit concerned about the zombie/vampire situation.

The traditional shambling zombie horde is clearly inferior to new improved turbo-zombie strains, and it makes sense to split vampires into gothic and cute types, but what about the various and diverse zombie-vampire hybrids as seen for example in "I am legend"? Where do they fit in?

Also, perhaps there should be a category for other aggressive hegemonising swarms. Mantred, the Borg, SG-1 replicators and the like.

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US Supreme Court: Duh, obviously cops need a warrant to search mobes

Tony Haines

"a brief physical search"

"Judge Roberts said that the old rules couldn’t apply to modern mobiles, because they were a technology whose scope was unheard of when the laws were put in place."

So in America, police are allowed to look in your pockets and wallet, and read your address book without a warrant. Briefly, apparently. Can they take your address book away and photocopy it, or do they have a certain time to look at it and identify the information they're interested in?

If you were carrying a diary, would they be allowed to read it?

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

Tony Haines

Re: Language skills?

//Choosing a character for which English is not the primary language//

That together with pretending to be thirteen seems like cheating to me. Else, why not claim to have a three-year-old battering away at the keyboard?

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Time-rich Brit boffin demos DIY crazytech WOLVERINE talons

Tony Haines

Now he can go out and fight crime in his spare time.

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Boffinry breakthrough: First self-replicating life with 'alien' DNA

Tony Haines

Re: Not quite as impressive as advertised.

I've looked at the paper, and I think this post warrants a point-by-point rebuttal:

> The DNA of that bacterium consists of a couple of million "base pairs",

E. coli genome size : about 4.6 million basepairs

> what they've done is replace ONE base pair with a synthetic pair which is sufficiently similar to the real deal that it doesn't break DNA replication.

True

> Even though only one base pair was changed, the protein the gene coded for was broken by the insertion (a so-called reading frame error*),

False. It was a base *replacement*, and *not* in any protein-coding sequence. Where did you get that from?

> which is why the bacterium grew more slowly

False. Because a) the above, and b) because the unnatural bases and plasmid didn't make it grow more slowly. Expression of the protein required for transport of the unnatural bases into the cell did, but did so in the absence of these bases. Adding the bases caused no significant further reduction in growth rate.

> (and presumably why they didn't let it replicate more than 15 generations - it was a death spiral).

False. They report the plasmid replicating for approx 24 (plasmid) generations (over 15 hours of growth). They analysed reversions of the modified base position at that point; this was below their limits of detection. If they didn't supply more of the unnatural bases (which degrade over time in the culture) then over the following 6 days of growth, the plasmid would either be lost from the cell or acquire a reverting mutation. This is in no sense a "death spiral" - while the necessary materials are supplied, the modified base is maintained pretty well.

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Tony Haines

Re: Interesting what this does to the range of codes

pedantic clarification of my above point:

With an extra basepair *type*, there would be two more types of base (6 rather than 4 possibilities) at each position of a triplet codon : 6^3=216

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Tony Haines

Re: Interesting what this does to the range of codes

Your maths is wrong.

A (natural) codon is 3 bases each of 4 possibilities : 4^3=64.

With an extra base-pair, it would be 3 bases each of 6 possibilities : 6^3=216.

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