* Posts by Tony Haines

128 posts • joined 12 Jun 2007

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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.

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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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PM wheels out snoop overseer minutes before latest snoops' charter bid lands

Tony Haines

I think I'm now working on the basis that they mean that when they declassify everything and repeal the Official Secrets Acts.

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R&D money for science – from your taxes?

Tony Haines

Re: one large logical fallacy (pr phallacy?) in most large programs and government ideas

The thing is - more money for science doesn't necessarily mean more money for a few big projects. It could (and probably does) mean funding more small projects. And more scientists researching probably does mean more results. You might be amazed at the hoops that have to be jumped through to get research council funding for research teams at universities. Many applications which people have spent significant time on, (and which describe a specific explicit need) fail - not because they're not decent, but because there isn't enough money to fund all the high-quality projects.

If you want to see what the UK research councils have funded I'm sure you can see at least some of that online.

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Audi, Seat, Skoda admit they've been fiddling car pollution tests as well

Tony Haines

Re: While these vehicles may all have the code installed

Remember Thunderbirds?

Every large vehicle[1] was nuclear powered and either automated, or set to auto-pilot by someone due a heart-attack. And the machine would then go out of control and aim straight for the nearest city.

The thing is, if I recall correctly, radioactive contamination was not a concern - the mobile nuclear power plant was solely a device to ensure that the machine wouldn't lose power.

[1] Our favourite was the crab-logger.

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'Disruptive Innovation'? Take this theory and stuff it: MIT Profs

Tony Haines

Re: They couldn't all just go out and start their own search engine.

"Why not?"

Network effects.

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Huh? Cat-wees-like-a-racehorse study pees on fellow physicists to take Ig Nobel prize

Tony Haines

It's not an error margin, it's a distribution.

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As we all know, snark always comes before a fall. Mea culpa

Tony Haines

Re: Er...

//Is this controlled for the fact that someone who's just tried 24//

I recently read most of a popular book by the scientist who performed that experiment. Apparently people given 24 choices would go to the jam aisle then dither for a while before giving up, so I think the answer is effectively : yes. They wanted the jam, but couldn't decide which one.

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That's a Tor order: Library gets cop visit for running exit relay in US

Tony Haines
Holmes

Re: Next:

//but I can't see how you could fight much of a duel with money//

Works quite well.

"Best dollar 80 I ever spent."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTfNcrQqgX0

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US gov to Apple: COUGH UP iMessages or FEEL our FEDERAL FROWN

Tony Haines

Re: @Ivan 4 Re"Isn't that the normal procedure for all left leaning administrations "

Arctic fox, they're probably American. I get the impression there's a different perception of where the centre is there.

I think this sub-thread explains it well:

http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2010/11/29/wikileaks_on_us_servers_again/#c_927029

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Sane people, I BEG you: Stop the software defined moronocalypse

Tony Haines

Re: The 80% of us who think they are "better than average" drivers

//This always infuriates me. It is quite possible for 80% of a sample to be above the average.//

Not if the average in question is a median - and that's a better average to use for this purpose.

Looking at the sample data-set you gave, should the four '10' drivers say "I'm about the same as everyone else - except that one guy who doesn't have a licence, never uses indicators, uses the mirror only to shave, and tends to stop by running into something - therefore I'm definitely better than average", or "I'm about the same as most of the other drivers, therefore I'm about average".

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Crazy Canucks heat their lab with muahaha-capable server

Tony Haines
Happy

Re: noise is just wasted power

Just as well they don't make speakers, then.

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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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