* Posts by Tony Haines

76 posts • joined 12 Jun 2007

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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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Spooks vs boffins: MIT bods say they've created PRISM-proof encryption

Tony Haines

Re: So a hashed set of words?...

No. I skipped too much of the detail to properly understand, but it's not a general hash table. That would be an obvious flaw.

Looking at it again - the user computes a search token using their private key and the search-word. The server then computes search tokens for every document key they have access to using "deltas", which are "cryptographic values that enable a server to adjust a token from one key to another key". (I didn't worry about exactly how that works.) The deltas can be reused for other searches - they are generated by the user on gaining access to the document (i.e. getting the key to decrypt it) in the first place, and given back to the server at that point.

There are still risks to this scheme, which they mention in the paper.

For example if you search maliciously supplied data (e.g. a dictionary), then the adversary can match the word to the user's token, hand hence determine the search word. So they mitigate that - you need to explicitly accept access to a document.

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Tony Haines

I wondered that, and looked at the paper just long enough to find out that on encoding a document the system also encodes a list of the words it contains.

To search a document one supplies encoded words - the server can then say whether there's a match, but not what the words are.

Presumably though if the spies were already interested in a particular document, they could observe searches which gave hits in it.

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Hear that, Sigourney? Common names 'may not constitute personal data'

Tony Haines

Re: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!!

I ended up entirely confused by that as well.

However - the Office for National Statistics releases lists of baby names every year. They only redact names with a count of two or fewer babies in a year for being personally identifiable information. That seems reasonable to me. One could apply that test to any population from which information was demanded.

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Judge: Google owes patent troll a 1.36% cut of AdWords' BEELLIONS

Tony Haines
Boffin

Drug companies

I don't think that's fair.

New or improved drugs /have/ been developed in recent years, in spite of greatly increased regulatory costs and increasing difficulty. (The difficulty is increasing because the bar is raised. And the lowest hanging fruit has already taken.)

Many of the 'me too' drugs you mention are because of the large amount of research - a seminal discovery is published and multiple pharmaceutical companies use that as a starting point, investing the next 10 years and 1.3 billion dollars developing what turn out to be similar compounds.

Publically funded research is important, certainly. But there's a reason the rights get sold off. It would be entirely possible to develop drugs all the way to market in a nationally owned organisation - you would just need to fund it appropriately.

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Amazon's 'schizophrenic' open source selfishness scares off potential talent, say insiders

Tony Haines
Devil

abandon all hope

from the article: //"You had no portfolio you could share with the world," said another insider on life after working at Amazon. "The argument this was necessary to attract talent and to retain talent completely fell on deaf ears."//

I think the insider quoted is undermining their own argument.

Amazon may find it harder to attract talent, sure. But once employed, your resume goes stale; it gets progressively harder to leave. From Amazon's perspective, retention should improve.

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FreeBSD abandoning hardware randomness

Tony Haines

Re: "Not everybody believes that RDRAND falls into the same category"

//Messing with the XOR instruction so that it behaves differently when used with RDRAND as an input is a different issue that was brought up mainly by the tinfoil hat brigade; it would be hard to implement, trivial to detect, trivial to defeat and would be an awful lot of investment for something bound to target only one implementation of one system. Plus, it would be pure commercial suicide.//

However, messing with the XOR instruction isn't the obvious attack.

If the attacker can access the stored pool, merging input with it by XOR makes it trivial to create whatever output the attacker desires. This includes sequences which look random, but arn't - in any subtle way the attacker needs.

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Microsoft touts SCROOGLE merch: Hopes YOU'LL PAY to dump on rival

Tony Haines
Paris Hilton

no possible chance of that backfiring

restrictive incompatible annoying limp insecure mushy

antitrust vulnerable MICROSOFT clippy broken dubious

bloated infringing flaccid lock-in predatory incompetent

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Gaming co ESEA hit by $1 MILLION fine for HIDDEN Bitcoin mining enslaver

Tony Haines

I'd be interested in knowing exactly how this was illegal.

I mean, I've read the settlement and it goes on about them spying on customers (which this apparently wasn't) and it being a botnet (which it is - if you accept wikipedia's definition[1], but then is presumably just there to sound threatening). As clearly stated in the article, it looks like the announcement is full of misinformation.

Perhaps the issue was simply doing something they didn't mention in the licencing agreement. Many programs get run without any licencing even being seen. Online games, even advertising on web-pages. I'm sure I've seen web-pages which try to do useful stuff for the host in the background. It seems a pretty grey area.

It seems to me that ESEA have been quite unfairly treated. Although maybe they shouldn't have agreed to the settlement. Could they have agreed the wording of the announcement as part of the settlement?

[1] "A botnet is a collection of Internet-connected programs communicating with other similar programs in order to perform tasks." Presumably all the @home style systems qualify.

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Oh My GOD! Have the TORIES ERASED THE INTERNET?*

Tony Haines

Re: But..

If you go to the wayback machine and read the FAQ you will find out that they do drop things from the archive based on the current robots.txt. It's not a secret.

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Vulture 2 paintjob: Four-year-old nipper triumphs

Tony Haines

In that case I think you should paint the ears green.

And it it means they have to be green for the flag side too then so be it.

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Bacteria-chomping phages could kill off HOSPITAL SUPERBUGS

Tony Haines

Re: What took them so long?

What took them so long is that actually it _is_ quite complex.

Phages are also not as easy to use as antibiotics - they're quite specific, which means you need to know what you're dealing with before you can treat. Also, they can only be used externally (counting the gut as external - which it is, topologically speaking).

All of this together means that there's relatively little money to be made from them for most applications.

So the upshot is that they're great when you're dealing with known outbreaks, or a chronic, recalcitrant infection. The former is what the Russians were dealing with. The latter seems to be the niche targetted by this work. I suspect that this has only recently become common enough to be a worthwhile approach.

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Loathed wiggly-word CAPTCHAs morph into 'fun' click-'n'-drag games

Tony Haines

I'm thinking of creating a website for psychics.

To enter you'll be shown a blank image, and have to guess the word the server is thinking of.

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