* Posts by Tony Haines

60 posts • joined 12 Jun 2007

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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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Boffin snatches control of colleague's BODY with remote control BRAIN HAT

Tony Haines

Rat control the cook!

Looks to me like the one on the right in the picture is being controlled by a rat.

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Not all data encryption is created equal

Tony Haines
Happy

Re: backdoors

"...I put a backdoor in your backdoor"

This should have a name. I suggest 'catflap'

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Relax, Hollywood, ARM's got your back: New chip 'thwarts' video pirates

Tony Haines
Boffin

Re: @Lee D

//The trouble is you'd have a perfect digital copy of a compressed frame (because it came from a compressed source) with artifacts and all. If you then tried to put this back into a compressed container, you would compound the artifacts and the resulting file would be measurably inferior to the original (double compression).//

While this is true for naive recompression, in theory it must be possible to regenerate the original compressed data from the uncompressed output.

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UN to call for 'pre-emptive' ban on soulless robot bomber assassins

Tony Haines

There is potentially a difference.

Perhaps the distinction they're making is that cruise missiles attack stationary targets. Bunkers, buildings, bridges or other infrastructure. Or mobile stuff which is known to be parked at a particular position. The target is designated by humans ahead of time.

However, a truely autonomous weapon would decide on its own targets during the mission. So it could hit mobile targets like tanks, personnel carriers, infantry, ships &c.

I'm not an expert, but that seems like a decent distinction.

Whether banning weapons of war is a good idea or not I'm unsure. Why not ban everything, so soldiers have to fight unarmed, hand to hand?

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Impoverished net user slams 'disgusting' quid-a-day hack

Tony Haines
Paris Hilton

the bin

It does seem a funny name for the front page.

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Brit horologist hammers out ‘first’ ATOMIC-POWERED watch

Tony Haines
Mushroom

Re: Nukular material

Reminds me of Mr Burns' Grandfather:

"Come on, come on! Crack those atoms! You, turn out your pockets. (worker does so) Atoms! (counts them) One, two three, four… six of them! Take him away!"

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Are biofuels Europe's sh*ttiest idea ever?

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Entire internet credits snapper for taking great pic while actually dead

Tony Haines
WTF?

Re: And this is why...

" For example: you may let the BBC use your picture but refuse it to the Daily Mail. The next day you change your mind about The Daily Mail. You cannot do this with a restrictive CC license. The whole point is to make a sacrifice "for the good of the commons", aka, The Greater Good."

Um, what Creative Commons licence is it that precludes you (as the copyright holder) giving out other licences?

Looking at the Creative Commons website, at page creativecommons.org/licenses/ :

"CC BY-NC-ND

This license is the most restrictive of our six main licenses, only allowing others to download your works and share them with others as long as they credit you, but they can’t change them in any way or use them commercially."

And in the licence deed for that :

"Waiver — Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder."

Or did you mean some other 'CC'?

Or did you mean that you can't change your mind after licensing something with a *less* restrictive CC licence? (And also mean "you may let the BBC use your picture *and also* the Daily Mail.")

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Young model ruthlessly fingers upskirt iPad petshop pervert

Tony Haines
Alert

"The model lamented the lack of big stick under local law for snapping people's privates."

Am I alone in thinking that's a little bit harsh?

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British games company says it owns the idea of space marines

Tony Haines

Precidence not necessary

The thing is, this is regarding a trade-mark, not a patent. The rules are different.

Trademarks apparently don't require precidence - how else would someone be able to trademark "Keep calm and carry on"?

However, I am not a lawyer; I don't know whether what Games Workshop have allow them to block books with those words in the title.

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Squillions of bytes in one cup of DNA

Tony Haines
Boffin

Re: Has nobody thoughtof the children?

"Frivolity aside, couldn't they have used some other protein sequence to achieve the same effect?"

Theoretically perhaps, but practically using proteins has some issues.

1) Protein sequencing isn't anywhere near the same league as DNA sequencing. We can just about determine the sequence of a few residues from one end of a protein. If it's pure.

2) Proteins often don't store well. DNA in dry form stores really well.

3) In-vitro protein synthesis is not easy. The usual way to get a protein sample is to produce a gene encoding it then put it in an organism which will make it for you. Then extract and purify it.

So apart from writing, reading and the wait in between it's a potentially effective approach.

To answer what I think was your real concern, creating what is to a cell essentially random DNA really isn't a big risk. Apart from that, the paper isn't about storing information in living cells, all the above comments notwithstanding.

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AMD, Samsung must be ARMed to the teeth to oust Intel servers

Tony Haines
WTF?

Re: WTF?

I don't understand why he didn't use time along the x axis and coloured lines for the different catagories.

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CAPTCHA-busting service relies on CAPTCHA to block bots

Tony Haines
Happy

Clever

If they get enough traffic through the 'contact us' captcha, they won't need to hire anyone to provide the service.

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Job-hunting honeybees rely on 'meth' to find work

Tony Haines
Headmaster

worker bees not identical sisters

"The whole hive of honeybees are genetically identical sisters..."

I believe this is not actually true.

Worker bees (and the queen) are diploids, meaning that they have two sets of chromosomes. But - the way the workers are generated involves a haploid (single set of chromosomes) egg being fertilised by a haploid sperm.

Chromosomes are allocated at random to eggs, and generally there's at least one cross-over involved between each pair.

Therefore the worker-bees are presumably not genetically identical.

(The same assortment process also occurs in spermatozoa in many species, but not honey bees; drone (male) bees are haploid so all sperm must carry the same set.)

HTH.

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Boffins zapped '2,000 bugs' from Curiosity's 2 MILLION lines of code

Tony Haines
Happy

Re: I for one would welcome....

I'm thinking that the easiest way of reducing the bug-introduction rate would be to put more statements on each line.

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Chocolate weighed in Schwarzeneggers: Official

Tony Haines
Alert

Somehow you miss titles when they're gone.

Olympic gold medals are made of steel now?

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