* Posts by Tony Haines

148 posts • joined 12 Jun 2007

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No spin zone: Samsung recalls 3M EXPLODING washing machines

Tony Haines

Re: First thing I would do

First thing I would do : check if Clement has been hired by R&D.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4sZVYInlPA

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Whoosh! China shows off J-20 'stealth' fighters and jet drones

Tony Haines

Re: Stealth..

I thought it was pretty good:

"The media could not be played".

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FT journo roasts channel leaders for spouting bullshit

Tony Haines

Re: Etymological fallacy

Actually Dan I did - and I just checked; what you include is not present on the page I'm looking at (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/passionate)

Possibly you're using a different dictionary?

Nevertheless, even if we accept the archaic Christian meaning for the sake of argument[1], it seems disingenuous to claim that and sexual attraction as the only meanings.

[1] Which we're not obliged to do, since she invited us to refer to any dictionary.

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Tony Haines

Re: Etymological fallacy

That's kind of what I thought.

//any dictionary will tell you that passion means “either a strong sexual attraction or the suffering of Jesus Christ on the cross.”//

Except that it turns out that according to any dictionary - i.e. dictionary.com - the first meaning of passionate is:

having, compelled by, or ruled by intense emotion or strong feeling

She was close with sexual desire because meaning 2:

easily aroused to or influenced by sexual desire; ardently sensual.

And there were three other options all similar to (1). Jesus wasn't mentioned.

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'Please label things so I can tell the difference between a mouse and a microphone'

Tony Haines

"I used to see the single missing folder issue where the user had inadvertently dragged a folder of e-mails into another folder"

That's an interface issue really. Stupid Microsoft.

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Mark Zuckerberg and the $3bn cash fling: He's not your father's tech kingpin

Tony Haines

"Unless new tools appear that drastically cut the cost of developing new drugs."

That's only part of it. The testing of the candidates and associated legalities is the expensive part.

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Turing, Hauser, Sinclair – haunt computing's Cambridge A-team stamping ground

Tony Haines

Re: Nope

There are many ...inaccuracies... in the article.

"... Cambridge’s first computer laboratory on the New Museums Site – a place that has seen scientific discoveries including the discovery of DNA ..."

Perhaps the discovery of the structure of DNA was meant (with the Watson and Crick model in 1953). Since otherwise the options for discovery are really either Friedrich Miescher - who first isolated nuclein (at the University of Tübingen), or Albrecht Kossel who purified the non-protein component of "nuclein", i.e. DNA (at the University of Berlin). I doubt either of these warrant blue plaques in Cambridge.

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Zombie Moore's Law shows hardware is eating software

Tony Haines

"You're both wrong"

Actually I'd say it looks like we're both right. The original paper you link to mentions falling cost and rising component count - right in the subheading. But the paper overall I'd say emphasizes miniaturisation and increasing component density as the primary factor.

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Tony Haines

//The original observation is about price per computation power over time, which still seems to be holding well. The misquotation is usually price per gate, based on silicon area, or some other manufacturing derived metric.//

Actually I think you have that wrong. The original observation was about the rate of increase of components per integrated circuit; this was developed and modified over time to become the observation about computation cost.

At least, if you trust the Wikipedia article, and my memory of other sources.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore%27s_law

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NASA starts countdown for Cassini probe's Saturn death dive

Tony Haines

Re: Legacy

Maybe in that case we should take the opportunity for a little misdirection.

Perhaps the next probe could display a little plaque, declaring "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'

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Upstart AI dreams of 'disrupting' digital marketing – with sex

Tony Haines

terminology issue

"Sentient Ascend uses the same concepts to “breed” together the individual changes in a design layout in a “million potential combinations across multiple pages” to determine which is best. Poor combinations don’t make it through the selection process."

That's not sexual selection, that's natural selection.

Sexual selection is specifically where members of one gender compete to be choosen as a mate by the other. It can lead to a positive feedback loop generating outlandish (and usually sexually diamorphic) traits. So it creates things like the peacock's tail - which arn't useful per se, but which are attractive to pea-hens. And Peahens like them because ... well, there are various contributory factors. One is the 'honest signalling' idea that if a peacock can survive in spite of carrying around such a burden then they must be good material. Another is that by mating with a big-tailed male, she can potentially produce sons with similar attractiveness to other peahens.

In any case, it's probably not what you want, unless you want an attractive but unusable interface... oh hang, on, we're talking web services, right? Carry on.

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Excel abuse hits new heights as dev uses VBA to code spreadsheet messaging app

Tony Haines

I've seen someone write a sudoku solver in Befunge.

Because I challenged them.

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FBI Director wants 'adult conversation' about backdooring encryption

Tony Haines

Re: @Adam 52

"Do you really think that one key per branch of government is not going to leak from at least one of them, by stupidity, oversight, forgetfulness or any combination thereof, in less time than a hacker needs to code a Hello World hack ?"

As I understood it, the suggestion was that they'd *all* have to leak.

However, I think that still asymptotically approaches certainty, but with a longer half-life.

There clearly are other approaches to the 'ultimate skeleton key' we all hate. Giving everyone their own personal (backdoor) key would be a good start. That would reduce the risk of a single catastrophic leak because you could keep the list in a nice air-gapped system, and only export data by printout, or something like that.

Still not a good idea, of course, but if we're being adults we ought to consider all the options, not just the stupidest one.

Another idea is the 'partial key' method. If the gov. only has part of the key, they could break encryption with less (but still significant) computational effort, but not read everything all the time.

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Drama in orbit: Brazen UFO attacks Earth's Sentinel-1A satellite

Tony Haines

Re: Is Sandra Bullock OK?

It's a good job she wasn't on board, or it would have been a total write-off.

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Penetration tech: BAE Systems' new ammo for Our Boys and Girls

Tony Haines

Re: End User?

... then again, he might rust instead.

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Air gap breached by disk drive noise

Tony Haines

Re: Floppy disk orchestra...

In that spirit, attackers could try a psychological attack:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFMY38R-tqw

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UK local govt body blasts misleading broadband speed ads

Tony Haines

Re: Up to speed

Um, yeah.

It would be hard though to determine the proportion to bill, though. Speed probably varies and we can't take the supplier's word for it.

I think the "up to" is the problem.

Ban "up to"; allow "at least".

Then a complainant can get a random spot check which can be pass/fail.

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F-35 targeting system laser will be 'almost impossible' to use in UK

Tony Haines

Re: Does this mean they have to shout "Behind you!"

It's a Heisensor; it only works if noone is looking.

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Dolly the sheep clones have aged well, say scientists

Tony Haines

Re: Gah.

While I take your point, to be really pedantic, a clone is a cell line or organism that is genetically identical to the cell or organism from which it was derived, so I believe that (officially at least) it's all or nothing. It's tautologous - like calling something "completely unique".

In your examples, you could say that the chimera was composed of several different clones, or that a particular part of the plant was clonal.

Now, I must admit that I wouldn't balk at someone talking about an organism being a partial clone of another - I'd know what they meant (assuming, at least, they knew what they were talking about). However, the point I was originally intending to make about the word 'completely' is - it's unnecessary in the sentence given. The word 'partial', if necessary, would not be superfluous - just as it's not in the phrase 'almost unique'.

I've probably triggered a few more pedantic alarm bells in this post, and for that I apologise. Any grammatical corrections I will concede, but if you spot a biological wrinkle I've apparently neglected, please be reassured that there are several interesting cans of worms I've elected to leave unopened.

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Tony Haines
WTF?

Gah.

"The birth of Dolly in 1996 made headlines and captured people’s attention as it provided evidence that a living creature could be completely cloned."

Ouch.

Dolly was the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell. An important word in that sentence is "mammal" - people have been cloning "living creatures" (like frogs) since the late '50s. Where this assumes an intent to suggest cloning a pre-existing, multicellular organism as opposed to - for example splitting a 2-cell embryo to create identical twins.

To preempt any other pedants, I should say that - given strict definitions of "clone" and "living creature" - a colony of bacteria on a plate which are all descended from a single cell is a clone, as is a tree grown from a cutting (and the word "completely" is superfluous in the quoted sentence).

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A journey down the UK's '3D Tongue' into its mini industrial revolution

Tony Haines

Re: Say what?

I still think it's not genetically engineered. Having checked two different Quorn product packages last night, there's no mention of it being so. Furthermore, the Quorn website explicitly says not in its FAQs page:

> "Are Quorn products non GMO?

> "At Quorn, we’re passionate about providing meat free products with non-GMO ingredients. Mycoprotein, the key ingredient in Quorn products is not genetically modified. All other ingredients used are purchased to a specification which requires that they are not genetically modified."

Furthermore - from my reading of various descriptions on the internet - while ICI was involved, this didn't involve passing on the organism. Rather it was a new isolate; ICI supplied fermenters and expertise in the process.

However, what I think we have here is essentially a semantic difference. The process you referred to for improving carbon flux is what I described as strain improvement. In Europe, the distinction is that you can *select* for variants and even randomly mutagenise a creature and it is *not* classed as genetic engineering. Genetic engineering is where you have some idea about what you want to do - knock out a particular gene or put a new gene in, whatever - and go about that with directed techniques to make that change specifically.

According to wikipedia, in America this may all be considered genetic modification and is lumped together. Presumably that means all dog breeders, say, and any gardener who produces a new variety of flower, etc., are genetic engineers - so the term is basically worthless. Which is fine for them since they don't seem to do scare stories about genetic engineering anyway.

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Tony Haines

Re: Say what?

"One thing that does make me actually LOL is the fact that food dorks constantly state their opposition to genetic engineering and... the advise people to eat Quorn which is made from re-cycled bacteria from the same family as tuberculosis and leprosy that have been genetically engineered for maximum growth."

I don't disagree with the rest of your post (I actually said essentially the same, a bit higher up), but I'm pretty sure you're wrong on the Quorn thing.

Quorn is reportedly made using Fusarium venenatum - which is a fungus rather than bacteria.

Furthermore, while I don't know for a fact that it's not genetically engineered, I don't believe it to be - I've not seen such a statement on the packaging, which would be legally mandated. It's entirely possible (I would say likely) that it underwent a program of strain improvement, which would involve selecting for improved growth under the given conditions, possibly with some mutagenesis. This is so common as to be unremarkable, is not 'genetic engineering' as defined, and would not require package labelling.

I do eat Quorn, but then I was also happy to eat genetically engineered cheese. (The milk clotting enzyme was extracted from a genetically engineered bacterium.)

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Tony Haines

// modern electronics ... fibre optic comms, CDs, DVDs, GPS, MRI Scanners ... LEDs (etc)

Um, that's sort of my point. These are great examples which people just plain don't count.

When something just works (for the most part) then people get used to it so readily that they don't question how it works. The consumer doesn't see the LED as anything other than a little light, for example.

3D printing on the other hand... well, it's not yet so ubiquitous as to be unremarkable.

People talk about the 3d-printed part of a technical project in a way they don't about established stuff. 3D printed stuff also gets high visibility because it works particularly well for custom and fashion consumer goods. These things are particularly noticable to the layman (and woman).

I'm not against 3D printing. I've had my own designs printed through an online service. It's great.

What I'm objecting to is Marcus's suggestion that it is 'making an impact' when the other technologies mentioned had failed to do so.

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Tony Haines

"While other "big hope" concepts such as genetic engineering, nanotech and quantum physics have yet to make much of an impact, ..."

Seriously?

Genetic engineering made *such* an impact that boycotts and legislation greatly restrict its use in many areas (particularly agriculture). Nevertheless, it is widely used in research, as well as various processes - particularly in more legally and socially permissive jurisdictions.

Nanotechnology and quantum physics are both rather vague areas, and I suspect that projects involving them are just not as consumer-visible, or applications are generally discounted in a way that doesn't happen for 3D-printing.

"As of August 21, 2008, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies estimates that over 800 manufacturer-identified nanotech products are publicly available, with new ones hitting the market at a pace of 3–4 per week." - wikipedia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanotechnology#Applications

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New DNA 'hard drive' could keep files intact for millions of years

Tony Haines

Re: Still early in the morning?

Prions are misfolded proteins, so in that respect at least your heart can rest easy.

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Bacon is not my vodka friend

Tony Haines

//The law is probably on the books to prevent someone from watering down the booze//

Except it would be legal if they left the lid off.

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Are you an Olympian of software, a titan of tech? Prove it in our coding competition

Tony Haines

I assume the reason they don't allow Perl is it makes it too easy.

Why don't you try befunge?

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Why you should Vote Remain: Bananas, bathwater and babies

Tony Haines

Re: @AC: Mean while, back in the real world...

// And in the meantime, all the advances that the EU *has* made in things like social justice, personal rights and equality will get flushed down the toilet. I simply do not trust the UK government to replace these.//

I think you trust them too far.

This is from a Leave campaign pamphlet I was sent:

::Does the EU keep us safe?

::"Brexit would bring two potentially important security gains: the ability to dump the European Convention on Human Rights ... and, more importantly, greater control over immigration from the European Union." (Sir Richard Dearlove, former chief of MI6)

Bear in mind that Sir Dearlove was head of MI6 when it was busy abducting people and their families and renditioning them to places where they could be secretly tortured.

(see for example : https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jun/01/mi5-chief-right-to-be-disgusted-over-mi6-role-rendition-blair )

I find it very interesting that this seems to be practically the one point that both sides agree on.

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Watch as SpaceX's latest Falcon rocket burns then crashes

Tony Haines
Happy

Re: Hmmm... not convinced!

Alternate explanation:

He was doing it manually and didn't manage to flicker-tap the space bar correctly on final approach.

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SHOCK: GM crops are good for you and the planet, reckon boffins

Tony Haines

Re: Gene escape

//... and horizontal gene transfer is believed to be more prevalent than inherited gene transfer in some bacterial species. ...//

While I generally agree with the .. er... sediment... of your post, I can't leave that statement alone - I'm pretty sure it's wrong.

Outside the most extreme and incredibly rare example, vertical gene transfer (that is, genes passed from parent to daughter cells) massively outweighs horizontal gene transfer (that is, genes transferred from one cell to another).

To put numbers on it, a bacterium may have something like 1000 to 6000 genes. A horizontal transfer event might be 1 to perhaps 500 genes (with a mean I'd guess of less than 50, max), and that won't occur every generation. For example, for a conjugative plasmid, a horizontal transfer for every 10 cell/generations would be a high rate, and for a virus... well, most virus particles in the wild carry infectious death; only a tiny proportion are misassembled donor cell DNA. Some cells can take up free DNA, but if they took up and replaced a large proportion of their genome each generation then ... they wouldn't be like that for long, and would stop.

But that's not to say that horizontal transfer isn't widespread.

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Tony Haines

Re: Gene escape

Well, that's certainly an argument, but it's based on the assumption that everything we already do is acceptable (or perhaps 'responsible'). And further, it disregards any potential benefits.

In reality there's potential harm in everything we do. Some risks (like the escape of genes into wild varieties) can be researched - and either prove minimal (as in this case) or can be mitigated.

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Chaps make working 6502 CPU by hand. Because why not?

Tony Haines

Re: Yes, but can it...

...

just imagine a beowolf cluster of 'em.

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Irish researchers sweep smartphones clear of super bugs

Tony Haines

Re: A la les chickens

//. Bacteria will always try and adapt to survive but they don't always do so. I'm thinking of Silver, its antibacterial properties don't seem to have diminished over hundreds of years! //

Actually, bacterial silver resistance exists. Typing those words into google gives a long list of abstracts and similar. The top one is titled: "Bacterial silver resistance: molecular biology and uses and misuses of silver compounds."

The thing about resistance is that it may come with a cost. When that is significant, resistant bacteria will be broadly restricted to places where the toxin is likely to be encountered.

This isn't quite as encouraging as you might think, though, because the little buggers can pass resistance around, and some resistance is likely to remain somewhere in the population. This means even if you stop using the antibiotic (or antiseptic) for a few years, if you start using it again the resistance get back up to high levels quite quickly.

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Taylor Swift snaps up EVEN MORE pr0n domain names

Tony Haines

Available:

taylor-swift.photos

taylor-swift.rocks

taylor-swift.social

itaughttaylorswifthowtomake.love

itaughttaylorswifthowtobuydomainnames.com

...

Get on it, techno-lawyers.

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Line by line, how the US anti-encryption bill will kill our privacy, security

Tony Haines

Re: Evil one time pad

Here's an attempt to clear up any remaining confusion:

A one time pad is random data (at least) as long as the original message.

If we look at the original suggestion, step 3 could be put off until the demand arrives. One could, without knowing the original, decrypt the message to anything. Therefore it doesn't affect the security of the original message.

...

I've thought about this before, in a rather similar context. In the UK, could this approach be used to fend off a RIPA section 49 notice?

I think it's worded that you're required to make the information intelligible, which this approach does, assuming a carefully chosen plaintext. Might be handy when they're demanding you decrypt a file you don't actually have a key for.

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3,000 kids' sketches to fly with exoplanet hunter

Tony Haines

I particularly like these british entries:

Paisley planets

http://cheops.unibe.ch/wp-content/uploads/childrendrawing/winner/GBR/GBR-059_OL1-2RH.jpg

Earth with sea monster

http://cheops.unibe.ch/wp-content/uploads/childrendrawing/winner/GBR/GBR-029_CV31-2LE.jpg

Aliens galore

http://cheops.unibe.ch/wp-content/uploads/childrendrawing/winner/GBR/GBR-052_OL2-6DE.jpg

taking the dog for a walk

http://cheops.unibe.ch/wp-content/uploads/childrendrawing/winner/GBR/GBR-058_OL9-0NU.jpg

Space animals!?

http://cheops.unibe.ch/wp-content/uploads/childrendrawing/winner/GBR/GBR-011_OL9-0PL.jpg

TV robot lowered by sky-crane

http://cheops.unibe.ch/wp-content/uploads/childrendrawing/winner/GBR/GBR-004_B14-7EG.jpg

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That one phone the FBI wanted unlocked? Here are 63 more, says ACLU

Tony Haines

I think I have a cunning strategy to mitigate that scope creep, to some extent at least:

Agree to the process for the one specific case, at cost plus some reasonable margin. With the condition explicitly written into the contract that the fee for each future decryption project for a government body in the USA will double. (And without predjudice to contest each project, and the company's discretion as to how many items a project entails, etc.) The head of the FBI has to sign, judges have to sign, the president has to sign, it has to be cleared by congress, whatever makes it legal.

Donate a percentage of each subsequent project to a suitable charity, for example EFF.

That would hopefully restrict the feds from wantonly serving warrants, but still allow them to proceed in the event of a significant need.

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Ironic: CCTV systems slide open a backdoor into your biz network

Tony Haines

look to yourself

“...if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

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Obama puts down his encrypted phone long enough to tell us: Knock it off with the encryption

Tony Haines
Happy

A "system where the encryption is so strong that there's no key or no door at all. "

I like this idea of an encryption which is so strong that it *can't be decrypted*.

I suppose this is bad news if you like to generate random numbers.

Occasionally I will decide to put something in a safe place. Over the years I've learned not to put things anywhere *too* safe, because then I can't find it when I need it.

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Aye, AI: Cambridge's Dr Sean Holden talks to El Reg about our robot overlords

Tony Haines
Happy

...John McCarthy, who won the Turing Award 16 years later for his contributions to the field.

What did he win, now he's certified human?

A secret code for - no more CAPCHAs for life?

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We suck at backups. So let's not have a single point of failure any more

Tony Haines

Regarding the scenario of encrypting malware with a lag phase - perhaps one solution would be to write out all memory along with disk.

Then you'd (theoretically) be able to find the decryption key somewhere in that. (This has to be available somewhere, since the shim has to be able to transparently decrypt during the lag phase.)

Although - I suppose it would itself get encrypted. Hmm, might be an awkward workaround. Either something somewhere is written unencrypted, for boot-up to work, or you could get an early warning of the issue by attempting to boot a cloned copy.

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Cops hate encryption but the NSA loves it when you use PGP

Tony Haines

Re: The more, the merrier?

//Nope. All you protect is content. PGP doesn't do anything to protect the endpoints of the conversation (very little does, to be honest). Volume has zero to do with it.//

Actually, stuartnz is right, in the sense that the article was about how using PGP in itself flagged you up as someone to study. If everybody used it, that wouldn't be the case.

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Australia considers mass herpes release for population control

Tony Haines

Re: Close your eyes and make a wish

//Saying that eliminating one large animal species is "consequence-free" is very short-sighted and not at all right, IMO.//

In the general case you're right. But since the narrow case is very specifically removal of an introduced creature; your two starred points are probably the objective, and the third point does not apply.

However I do concede the following as theoretical risks:

* If you had two introduced species and remove one, the other may become more of a problem.

* If the ecosystem had effectively stabilised with the introduced species as an essential part, it may decay to an even less desirable state if it were removed.

I've not heard of either and (in my non-expert and perhaps naive opinion) think that they're pretty unlikely in island ecosystems, but maybe thats because they're taken into account when a culling project is considered. Certainly they are often done in combination with an attempt to recover some of the original diversity (i.e. reintroduction of locally extinct species) which presumably helps.

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Tony Haines

Re: Close your eyes and make a wish

Erm... yes. Some examples:

Globally eliminated:

* Smallpox

* Rinderpest

Locally eliminated, no horrific consequences

* goats or pigs from islands (multiple examples of this)

* rats (e.g. Campbell Island - no local species of rodent)

* sandbur (a grass), from Laysan

Locally eliminated, significant short-term expected deleterious consequences

* rats (many, many times)

* foxes

If you're trying to clear a small island of large animals, you can shoot them, basically unforseen horrific consequence-free.

If you've got a medium-size island full of smaller animals like rats, poisoning can work - but you probably need a decent breeding colony of everything else which might also eat it.

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Microsoft steps up Windows 10 nagging

Tony Haines

Re: I'm waiting until it goes to 11.

To be fair, I don't think any CD drive has ever survived an upgrade.

1
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GCHQ Christmas Card asks YOU the questions

Tony Haines

Re: Massive file size

Given they used hidden data in a previous recruitment campaign, I'd bet the latter.

Every time they try this, people pick through it and publish their findings on the web. If they cared, they could serve every visitor a unique puzzle which terminates at a unique url. Maybe they're trying to do that this time and that's why the traffic is hobbling it so easily.

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IBM kills Hack A Hair Dryer women-in-tech vid after backlash

Tony Haines

Re: Shocking!

That's actually a disguised fraction. It's probably not exactly zero, one or two in ten. Does it really still use 'fewer'?

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Terrorists seek to commit deadly 'cyber attacks' in UK, says Chancellor Osborne

Tony Haines

Re: Die Hard 4.0

You're probably thinking of this article, which rubbished the in-flight production of TATP:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/17/flying_toilet_terror_labs/

However, that wasn't the plan, as described by Lewis Page:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/09/10/liquid_bomb_verdicts/

From what I gather the main explosive was hydrogen peroxide (possibly to be mixed with a powder like flour), being set off by a detonator (which was either TATP or HMTD).

And as he observed, the 'no liquids' (or rather, 100ml bottles max) rule wouldn't prevent a determined attack.

[...doh, ninja'd.]

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Your taxes at work: Three hours driving to turn on politician's PC

Tony Haines

Re: Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

//I was taught that two lots of X chromosones cannot produce red/green colourblindness in people, hence women are actually not reg/green colourblind... //

Then you were taught wrong. Even thinking about it for a moment would tell you that.

If someone has a broken version of the gene on each of their two X chromosomes, they won't have a functional one and so will be colourblind.

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Feeble Phobos flaking as it falls to Mars

Tony Haines
Happy

The earth has a solid iron core which is growing at about half a millimetre per year. Obviously this can't go on indefinitely.

Something for you to worry about?

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