* Posts by Ken Hagan

5397 posts • joined 14 Jun 2007

Hackers waste Xbox One, PS4, MacBook, Pixel, with USB zapper

Ken Hagan
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Re: No shit, sherlock

"One notable lunatic nuked a brand new MacBook Pro, Google Pixel, and a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge ..."

If he did them all within a short space of time (*) then some collaboration between Apple, Google and Samsung might be able to identify who it is. (* Or even a fairly long period. How many people have bought all three of those and returned them under warranty almost immediately?) Perhaps El Reg could contact all three companies and spin some line about wanting to write the story of how they joined forces to identify the fraudster.

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It’s Brexploitation! Microsoft punishes UK for Brexit with cloud price-gouging

Ken Hagan
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So you think MS survive (and make massive profits) despite being crap, by dint of their ability to lock-in customers and suck money out of governments both at home and abroad.

And you aren't impressed? I'd call that *stunningly* successful. If they were doing by merely by offering quality products at reasonable prices then that would be oh so boringly mundane and unworthy of comment.

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Google turns on free public NTP servers that SMEAR TIME

Ken Hagan
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Re: Frustration

"If OS developers wrote their OSes to use International Atomic Time instead of UTC as their base timescale, ..."

At least according to the documentation, Windows has used "seconds since 1601" as its base timescale for the last twenty years and UNIX has used "seconds since 1970" for rather longer. It has always been my impression that a conversion to UTC is purely a user-interface thing for the benefit of meatware. Any programmer baking Babylonian time-keeping conventions into their design really needs whacking over the head with a two-by-four clue-stick.

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Microsoft, IBM, Intel refuse to hand over family jewels to China

Ken Hagan
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Re: China has demanded technology transfer for years

I wouldn't be too sure about the fate of Western engineering culture. Yes, over the past few decades a lot of manufacturing has been exported to where the labour is cheap (or free), but the R&D has not moved anything like as fast and (as noted in several Trump-related discussions on these forums) the manufacturing might be about to return to the West on the back of robotic manufacturing.

China's economic success appears to be predicated both on the idea that they can hold down their own wage costs indefinitely and also on the idea that this means the jobs will stay in China. Neither assumption looks good in the longer term. If the manufacturing moves back to the West, the Chinese people might start to ask their government what they'd done during the years of plenty to build an economy that can carry on working through the lean years.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Benefits...

"A lot of Japanese manufacturers decided that operating in China was more hassle than it was worth."

If Mr Trump has his way, a lot of US manufacturers might be pushed towards a similar decision in the near future. This may be all the nudge that they need.

I suspect the Communists are demonstrating their usual level of economic comprehension. If *I* pull out of China then I lose ground to all my competitors who are still in that huge market, but if everyone (for various reasons) pulls out of China then I lose nothing. By "everyone" of course I mean all the round-eyed foreigners. Huawei et all would be free to sell whatever they like. However, it is *just* possible that they may find themselves *less* free than before to export, since all the target markets would now be run by politicians who have lost any reason to suck up to China.

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Sysadmin figures out dating agency worker lied in his profile

Ken Hagan
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Re: Enter == submit

"The use of Tab to move to the next field is very unintuitive, as the typewriter tab key was almost exclusively used to indent text or type stuff in columns."

This must be one of those age-related pieces of intuition. Most people have only ever used GUIs and mostly the Windows flavour thereof. Certainly since Win3 and quite possibly since Win1, Windows has used TAB to walk round a dialog box and mapped ENTER to the default button. To fall into the trap described by the article you would need to be amongst the small fraction of the population who have data entry experience from 25 or more years ago and no subsequent experience with "ordinary" (ie, Windows) PCs.

Oh, and what's a typewriter?

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Amazon tries again with AppStream because customers didn't like it

Ken Hagan
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So if this requires a licence for Remote Desktop and only runs on Server editions of Windows, what's the product here? I already have Remote Desktop if I want it, even on Linux clients, and it isn't restricted to what someone can encode via HTML5.

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Plastic fiver: 28 years' work, saves acres of cotton... may have killed less than ONE cow*

Ken Hagan
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Re: Fewer

If it had been fewer than two cows then I'd quite agree with you, but I'm not sure that cows are countable when in groups of fewer than one. You wouldn't say fewer than half a cow, for example.

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American supremacy, space, liability, funding, openness – AI gurus lay it all out to US senators

Ken Hagan
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"The current congress is totally interested in lining its own pockets and those of its bedmates."

A boatload of AI hype sounds ideal then! (I expect cheap fusion reactors to appear before anything remotely resembling "intelligence" in an artificial system.)

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SHIFT + F10, Linux gets you Windows 10's cleartext BitLocker key

Ken Hagan
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Re: "dns claim my server is updates.microsoft.com"

You can certainly call yourself updates.microsoft.com if it floats your boat, but I suspect you will have more trouble pushing out "updates" that have been signed by a key that the target machine trusts for this purpose.

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Ken Hagan
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Whole-disk encryption is silly anyway

The OS files (which are the ones that MS wanted to update in this case) are not secret. The ones you actually want to protect are the per-user files, which MS never need to update and so they can be encrypted with a mechanism that doesn't need to have a back-door designed into it.

Traditionally, the objection was that Windows failed miserably to separate system files and user data, but that's actually been getting better (slowly) over time. These days, I suspect that *most* Windows apps can tolerate a setup where directories are either per-user-encrypted or read-only-for-that-user.

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Imagine every mistake you can make with a new software rollout...

Ken Hagan
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Re: "writing a Purchase Ledger system from scratch"

Almost certainly true, because none of the existing COTS offerings will run on hand-held devices and slurp contextual data from social media sites and stash it all in the cloud.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: No US coverage of this

"If there's one thing politicians and managers are good at..."

...then I've yet to hear of it.

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Congrats America, you can now safely slag off who you like online

Ken Hagan
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Re: Double edged sword?

They already are. If I want to be malicious, I will spend some time crafting a review that takes care to be plausible. That probably makes it more defensible in court. If, however, I just want to throw out an honest rant, I'll probably say something rash and that means I'll be wanting the sort of protection that this new law will provide.

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50 years on, the Soviet-era Soyuz rocket is still our favorite space truck

Ken Hagan
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Also consider the fact that anti-ballistic missile systems were regulated by treaty before ballistic missile were, because the latter were considered an indication of offensive intent.

The real offensive weapons are the little ones (tanks, planes, boats) because those are the ones that you can actually use day-to-day to make war.

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How-to terror manuals still being sold by Apple, Amazon, Waterstones

Ken Hagan
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Re: FTFY...

Under the unwritten constitution of the English language, corect is whatever most people do. (Placing the full stop inside the quotes marks you down as an Arts-y type, whereas placing them where they logically belong marks you down as a STEM-y type.)

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No super-kinky web smut please, we're British

Ken Hagan
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Re: "pornographic material or adult material"

Someone should ask her to explain (in the House, of course, so that we can all read it in Hansard for generations to come) *precisely* what the difference is, so that judges can refer to her definitions when deciding cases. (I'll wager that 99.99% of the population have gone through life believing that the latter is simply a euphemism for the former, so we'll all be *fascinated* to learn what the difference really is.)

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Ken Hagan
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"Why is it that watching someone else perform a legal act is illegal?"

It's for symmetry with all those cases where watching someone else perform an illegal act is legal.

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SQL Server on Linux: Runs well in spite of internal quirks. Why?

Ken Hagan
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Re: portability

True, but a more pertinent translation might be "Once we've got you interested by running this on Linux, the databases will be fully portable back to our Windows-based edition.".

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Microsoft’s ‘Home Hub’ probably isn’t even hardware at all

Ken Hagan
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low-key?

"Echo itself was a spontaneous and low-key product released with almost no marketing beyond the Amazon store-front."

Almost no marketing beyond a front-and-centre splash on almost certainly *the* most visited shopping web-site on the planet? A location that, moreover, probably isn't even for sale to non-Amazon advertisers, no matter how deep your pockets are.

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Debian putting everything on the /usr

Ken Hagan
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Re: only thing I ask

These days, I think it is easier to rescue a system from a live CD.

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Reg man 0: Japanese electronic toilet 1

Ken Hagan
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Re: standard armoured car

I think the toilet paper is the standard. Armoured cars vary and most can be knocked out by a nuclear bomb, so they are measured in millizals.

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China cites Trump to justify ‘fake news’ media clampdown. Surprised?

Ken Hagan
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Surely the definitive put-down to this "fake news" hypothesis is that Hillary actually won the popular vote? (It was the electoral college system that won it for Trump, and the good gentleman is on record as saying he would like to change it.)

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Kids' Hour of Code turns into a giant corporate infomercial for kids

Ken Hagan
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Scrap everything

Any commercial company worth its salt is going to have people whose entire job is working out how to exploit an opportunity like this, to pitch their products in front of school-children. They have 365 days to work on it and only 1 hour to fill. Teachers meanwhile, have to full every other hour of the school year with lessons planned to the best of their ability. They have neither the time nor the expertise to counter the pitch, and no incentive if a diktat comes down from on high that they must do this. It is a scandal that companies (and not even UK ones) are given such unfettered access to our kids on an annual basis.

Coding shouldn't even be a priority, not even for one hour. You can't *do* anything in that time and there can't be a child in the country who isn't already aware of the importance of computers and the fact that someone needs to program them. If they are interested, they've probably googled their way to the most common options for learning. If not, they won't become interested by watching a teacher discover that every other primary school in the land is also trying to access www.corporate-advert.com at this precise moment in time, or that "no, the school's internal network can't cope with every single computer in the building logging into the domain at the same time".

Meanwhile, the curriculum continues to narrow to strangulation point. In the UK, the only things that are tested (and therefore the only things that schools are rewarded for) at Key Stage 2 are English and Maths. All that time on science or humanities that actually makes the curriculum interesting gets you no points at the end of Year 6. Any politician who actually understood the free market could predict the outcome of that selective environment, but ... sigh.

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Put down the org chart, snowflake: Why largile's for management crybabies

Ken Hagan
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Re: Agile in a safety critical environment...

"I have no problem with the AirBus FCS being developed in an Agile manner. However I do have a real problem with it being TESTED in an Agile manner."

Agile looks like a plausible way of generating an "actual requirements spec". Its proponents seem very fond of telling stories about how several inches of "analyst requirements spec" ended up in the bin after the agile actually tried out a few use-cases with real end-users. Fair enough. I'm sure that most projects start out with *awful* requirements specs and unless that spec is judiciously ignored by the experienced staff (and not just the developers) the whole project is doomed.

It then probably makes sense to write down in some detail how you are going to prove that the software meets those requirements. If you can't do that, you need to fix the requirements or else you are just wasting your time implementing anything. If this sounds a lot like test-driven-design then you can call it that, but I'm not convinced it is exactly the same thing.

Then you need to actually implement it, but since you've done the Requirements first and then the Design and since the Acceptance Testing is easy (already planned, and quite possibly automatable), the only bit left to do is going to look a lot like a Waterfall process at this point.

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Intel lays out its AI strategy until 2020

Ken Hagan
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Re: Best architecture for "AI"

If, as appears to be the case, we are confusing AI with analysing all that big data being gathered by world+wife, then the big data is merely a large constant input and so whatever analysis we're doing is embarrassingly parallel. A stupidly-parallel cluster of cheap boxes with fast access to the raw data should suffice.

If we're talking about AI as in "the machine changes what it actually does based on the results of past activity" then it is not terribly obvious what the best architecture is because it isn't terribly obvious what the best algorithm is. As far as I'm aware, we still don't have either a definition of intelligence or an objective test for it. On the other hand, if you want to attach little windmills to all the hand-waving then we do have a solution to the energy crisis.

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PoisonTap fools your PC into thinking the whole internet lives in an rPi

Ken Hagan
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Re: If they can physically access the computer...

The scenario isn't that far removed from a legitimate one: that of a VPN. That too is a new interface that appears after existing connections have been established, and that too is an interface that could reasonably be given priority for packets routed to a subset of addresses.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Can we start a petition on the government website?

How do you know that they haven't already done so, and you've spent the last few years whining about this issue to a bunch of black hats who have poisoned your DNS?

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Hmm...

I think you are going about it backwards. dhclient is only in the picture if your ethernet interfaces are marked as auto or hotplug or some such. For a fixed link, you might prefer to manually configure things and fall back to "not connected" if you find yourself at one end of an unfamiliar network. But now we are back to the choice between secure and convenient.

Likewise, in the Windows world I believe that a domain-joined machine can be made to only trust the DHCP servers of that domain, but most home users don't have a DC and MS make it even harder by disabling the facility entirely in some editions of the OS.

Afterthought: quite a lot of security problems would be solved if someone produced an ADSL router that had a Joe-User-friendly firewall to protect Joe's IoT devices, some sort of net nanny or danse guardian to keep the politicians out of the loop on content filtering, and enough domain controller software to let Joe manage all his Windows clients, which themselves would have to have the domain-disabling disabled so that they weren't recklessly insecure.

Maybe if the next Raspberry Pi has an ADSL modem onboard, it could actually happen?

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Experts to Congress: You must act on IoT security. Congress: Encourage industry to develop best practices, you say?

Ken Hagan
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Re: Be Careful What You Wish For...

Sounds great! Where do I sign up?

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Ken Hagan
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Re: How do you deal with China?

The same way you deal with "Germany", or rather Volkswagen. You publish standards that manufacturers have to meet and then let someone else sues their arses off if they don't meet them.

Lax security is very much like pollution. For any polluting device, the seller gains because they've cut a corner and the buyer wins because that makes it cheaper and the pollution of one single device is far outweighed by the benefit of possessing it. The cost is borne by the rest of society. Markets will not fix that and anyone who actually *understands* the trendy free-market mantras rather than merely being able to *spout* them will see why that is the case.

Sadly, we've bred a generation of politicians who know that the market is better than government, but haven't a clue why. Even sadder, those politicians are frequently the same ones who will argue at length that market forces do not act on genetic variation. Maybe they're just fucking stupid.

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Virgin Galactic and Boom unveil Concorde 2.0 tester to restart supersonic travel

Ken Hagan
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In technology, whenever someone proposes trying X again, the essential questions are why did X fail last time and what's different now.

Last time round, no-one paid much attention to noise during design but happily for the designers, 70% of the planet is covered in water. Nevertheless, the economic case was damaged by the quadrupling in price of the fuel between design (1960s) and operation (1970s).

Whether it is true or not, the article claims that both noise and fuel problems can be mitigated by using materials and designs that were not available half a century ago. That is unproven, but perfectly plausible, given that Concorde was designed using the same technology that put two men on the moon using wooden spacecraft, pencils, hand-caclulations and strong underpants.

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China gets mad at Donald Trump, threatens to ruin Apple

Ken Hagan
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Re: The Chinese don't lose

China have been losing since about 1420 (if memory serves). A little over a century ago, China was losing so badly that the main Western powers actually had enclaves in Peking (as then was) to make it easier to tell the puppet government what to do. Since then, they've imported the least effective political philosophy to come of the West in recent centuries, tried out a return to slave-owning economics and are now tasting unfettered klepto-kapitalism.

At no point have they tried Rule of Law or Democratic Government. You don't have to be *that* much of a wet liberal to wonder if it is any co-incidence that nearly all of the countries to have shat upon them from a great height over the past 200 years (all barring Imperial Japan as far as I can see) have dabbled in such dark arts.

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NHS IT bod sends test email to 850k users – and then responses are sent 'reply all'

Ken Hagan
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Headmaster

No, it can't be, because there is a transposition required as well.

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Ken Hagan
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OK, I'll bite ...

What is an anti-IT sentiment? Is "IT" now some kind of minority group that needs protection from persecution by anti-IT bigots (who probably read dreadful newspapers and vote for even worse)? And is there a way of distinguishing one Anonymous Coward from another that allows "IT" people to know when it is the same anti-IT bigot repeatedly posting the Wrong Kind of sentiment?.

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Russia shoves antitrust probe into Microsoft after Kaspersky gripes about Windows 10

Ken Hagan
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"If Windows 10 apps were only available from their own store, presumably after careful vetting, I shouldn't need AV, should I?"

If a requirement for installation on Win10 is that Microsoft have to be able to vet the code sufficiently to ensure security, then Win10 just lost the main reason anyone still uses Windows (backwards compatibility). Most Windows apps are closed source and the vendor either won't be willing to publish it (particularly, in some cases, to MS), or won't, for 3rd-party-licensing reasons, be able to, or won't have the code anymore, or won't exist anymore. This "careful vetting" you speak of simply isn't possible in those cases. Even if it were, to be "sufficiently careful" would require prolonged study by people rather more expensive than MS are going to be willing to spare for the task.

As for your iPad, I suspect that running all apps in a sandbox has something to do with it. Non-Apple apps are typically quite restricted in what they can do. This brings security at the expense of flexibility. PCs traditionally made the opposite trade-off.

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Robot solves Rubik's Cubes in 637 milliseconds

Ken Hagan
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Tsk Tsk. Has no-one let you in on the plan? Since the Chinese copy all our tech, the current strategy is to make our tech amazingly crap, diverting Chinese industry down unproductive routes whilst we carry on using old rubbish that, er, works.

Hence, Windows 10, the F35 fighter, Samsung phones, this cube solver, ...

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Ken Hagan
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Happy

Re: As for that time...

Since the robot in the video would be totally unable to solve a 4x4x4 cube, I'd say that the complexity in this case is "worse than exponential".

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Ken Hagan
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IT Angle

Re: How complex is that problem anyhow?

I's completely dominated by how fast you can twist the cue. You can see on the video that the movement begins almost immediately, so the visual input and computation are taking about a millisecond and then it's about 30ms per mechanical move.

It's a very nice piece of mechanical engineering that our esteemed rag appears to have mis-filed under "Artificial Intelligence".

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Teen in the dock on terror apologist charge for naming Wi-Fi network 'Daesh 21'

Ken Hagan
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Re: dickless nutjobs

Sadly for many women who were unfortunate enough to have been living in the affected areas, these particular nutjobs are sufficiently non-dickless that their dick-related activities are on a par with their murderous ones. Kinda makes a mockery of any pretence they might have of being true to Islamic principles, but no surprise there.

Perhaps sex-mad homocidal heretics would be a more accurate term. I dunno. It's a tough one.

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Leaks password, check. Leaks Wi-Fi password, check. Can be spoofed, check. Ding! We have an Internet of S**t winner

Ken Hagan
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Coat

Re: Which is exactly why I build mine out of Raspberries and Bananas

What about the build instructions?

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Microsoft puts Windows Updates on a diet with 'differential downloads'

Ken Hagan
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Is that really how it works now? It certainly didn't used to work that way.

The chat between your PC and the WU servers to decide what to download needs to be secure, but the downloaded packages themselves are digitally signed and so do not need to be pulled over an encrypted (or even authenticated) line. If WU is now using https to grab those packages (and thereby breaking any attempt to cache them in a squid proxy) then that is jaw-dropping idiocy.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: no ones mentioned OSX yet...

If you are frightened by the output of 'yum update', then the only safe course of action is to delegate the decision-making to the people who maintain your distro, so I'd say "Yes, your computer is broken, or at least mis-configured. Give it to someone who knows how to enable automatic updates.".

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Ken Hagan
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Actually it was also how every version of Windows prior to 10 did it as well. At least, that's the most obvious interpretation.

I suppose it is possible that MS first trawl your system for exactly what you have installed, its servers then compute a minimal patch file (as supported by Windows installer for nigh-on 20 years) and then builds you a custom unified download. Possible, but insanely complex, compute-intensive (on the server side) and bug-prone (since the whole scheme is broken by just one unaccounted for patch in the whole history of Windows).

But it is vastly more plausible to assume that they've recognised what a dumb idea it was to ship each month's updates in a single package, have reverted to the old system of issuing separate patches for each installed component, but have not reverted to the old system of letting you tick or not tick each one prior to acceptance.

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UK prison reform report wants hard-coded no-fly zones in drones to keep them out of jail

Ken Hagan
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Re: Slippery slope

In the UK (and I imagine you can say something similar for most countries) you can add "within 50 metres of any building that you don't own" to this list of yours. It would probably use less ROM space in the drone firmware to use a whitelist.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: Prison Reform from Cloud Cuckoo Land

"Banned - the governmental favourite response."

That's because banning is relatively cheap way of getting the issue off the front page. If you would prefer a different response, you need to change the way that the performance of the government is measured by Joe Public.

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'Inventor of email' receives damages from Gawker's collapsed empire

Ken Hagan
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That's probably true, but you might still decide that it is cheaper to agree a payout to make the lawyers go away. After all, sometimes courts make, er, idiosyncratic decisions.

And anyway, something being true merely means you will win the case and here in the post-Leveson UK that no longer guarantees that you won't be out of pocket.

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Ubuntu Core Snaps door shut on Linux's new Dirty COWs

Ken Hagan
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Re: Joke Alert?

"executing programs on a CD or USB being run when inserted"

Be fair, it took Windows about 10 years before they got around to copying that "feature" off the Mac.

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Ken Hagan
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Re: When did Linux start becoming like Windows?

There does appear to be a problem with basic innumeracy here, since a handful of Linux kernel bugs scarcely comes close to the sum of all Windows bugs over the same period. However, a bug is a bug and you only need one to hack a system.

Perhaps the real way in which Linux systems are becoming like their Windows cousins is that bugs are remaining unpatched because the vendor can't be arsed and they are the only ones who can do it. I'm thinking here of vulnerabilities in IoT devices, or old routers for which the vendor hasn't issued a firmware patch in years, or phones where they'd much rather you pay to upgrade than they pay to maintain their product line for more than 12 months.

But desktop Linux, where just about any distro you care to name is regularly patched and the applications tend not to regard "executable third-party data" as a feature? ... these remain pretty damn safe to use.

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Ghost of DEC Alpha is why Windows is rubbish at file compression

Ken Hagan
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Re: Obvious bull

"Because you couldn't have possibly included (de)compression code for both algorithms in all versions of the OS"

Right, and if MS had delivered disc compression that meant that discs written on one system would totally suck on performance when plugged into another system, no-one on these forums would have written long rants on how this epitomised MS's cluelessness about "portability".

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