* Posts by Cuddles

286 posts • joined 3 Nov 2011

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'Hopelessly insecure’ Motorola CCTV cameras belatedly patched

Cuddles
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Taking the CC out of TV

Can we please stop calling these things "CCTV". The CC stands for "closed circuit", ie. it's a closed system that only allows any control and viewing to be done internally. If you monitor and control it via the internet, it's just a webcam. Call it a security camera if you want to pretend there's a meaningful difference from regular consumer webcams, but calling it CCTV implies a level of inherent security that simply isn't, and cannot be, present.

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German Chancellor fires hydrogen plasma with the push of a button

Cuddles
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Re: That's Bundeskanzlerin Frau Doktor Angela Merkel to you

"So GTFU and stop blaming a dead woman for the Labour partys fuckups in the late 90s and 2000s."

It's not an "us or them" situation. It's entirely possible to blame said dead woman for her fuckups while also blaming the following Labour government for their own, independent fuckups. And blaming subsequent Labour, Tory and coalition governments for all of theirs. Just because someone dislikes Thatcher doesn't mean they're some rabid fanboy who thinks Labour can do no wrong.

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They're alive! Galileo sats 9 and 10 sending valid signals

Cuddles
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Re: Some folks might criticize cost, but ...

The advantage of using satnav for nuclear missiles is that they all end up wedged under a low bridge in a small west country village, thus averting any risk of nuclear war.

"It can be jammed or spoofed, so perhaps now more use as a civilian tool?"

Sadly, that's actually why phones and the like are mostly not compatible with GPS and Galileo - the US military wanted to be able to jam Galileo without disrupting their own system, and they forced the EU to use a different frequency to make this possible. So now you need a different receiver for each system, which obviously adds to the cost and complexity. Dedicated satnav systems, emergency beacons, and similar may use multiple systems, but there's little justification for the extra cost for a phone.

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Rooting your Android phone? Google’s rumbled you again

Cuddles
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Re: This is not...

"And Google Pay deems the security risk due to malware on a rooted phone too high."

Which is rather ironic considering the amount of malware that can be downloaded through Google's own app store. If anything, people with good enough technical knowledge to have even heard of rooting phones, let alone actually be able to do it themselves, are rather less likely to be the ones downloading malware.

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Research: By 2017, a third of home Wi-Fi routers will power passers-by

Cuddles
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Re: Electricity costs....

Ignoring the beauty of your "Watts per day" units, the problem comes from this part:

"Not a large sum of money, but is is added to your electrical bill and by extension your overall cost of living."

No it isn't. You've calculated the total cost of having your router used 24/7, not the additional cost caused by other people using your wi-fi. The idle load accounts for a decent fraction of that, your own use also makes up a reasonable fraction, and there will be plenty of dead time during work hours and the small hours when no-one will be using it. Idle use would be maybe 10% (I suspect actually more), call it 2 hours for your own use and a conservative 12 hours when no-one else will be touching it (again I suspect it would be far more than that in reality). That would give you more like $0.60 monthly cost of other people, and that's still a massive over-estimate that assumes people are continuously camping outside your house to leech off your internet for 10 hours a day. Unless you live in a crowded block of flats with lots of horrible neighbours, there's basically no chance of that happening. In a realistic situation, you'll even those 4 decimal places aren't going to be enough to measure the cost of the occasional person making use of it while they happen to be walking past your house. The idea of a long range connection serving tons of people is particularly silly given that most people struggle to get a decent signal through their whole house.

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Cuddles
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Priority

The additional electricity costs are close enough to zero to not be worth worrying about (and if you're that worried about it, why would you be leaving your router switched on when not in use?). So the only way this can potentially affect you is if secondary users reduce your own bandwidth. I don't know how this is currently addressed, but it would be incredibly easy to simply ensure that the home user gets priority, and any secondary users can only use whatever spare bandwidth is left over.

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App for homeless says walking on water is the way to reach services

Cuddles
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Re: It is just me?

"An app for homeless people.

First, what's wrong with this picture?"

Absolutely nothing. It's rather sad how many people read "homeless" as "insane beggar ranting on a street corner while swigging from a bottle of vodka". Most homeless are not beggars. For most, being homeless is temporary situation that may only last a few weeks or months. Being unable to afford rent or a mortgage for some time (often for reasons out of their control) does not mean a person's possessions and money are all immediately confiscated, so there's absolutely no reason for them not to already own a phone or be able to afford the very low cost of buying one.

On top of that, even the poorest, long term homeless have no reason not to own a phone. You can get a cheap phone for £20 or less, and there's free wi-fi pretty much everywhere these days so it's not like they need to be tied into a £30 per month contract. With the importance of communication these days, any homeless person who actually has any plans on finding a job would be absolutely insane not to buy a phone at the earliest opportunity - by far one of the biggest steps in making yourself employable is having a phone number and email address so that potential employers can actually contact you.

And on top of all that, as someone else pointed out this doesn't actually appear to be an app for homeless people at all, but women subject to domestic abuse, ie. people who probably have a home to go to but who can't use it because some cunt will beat them up if they do. But sure, let's ignore all that in favour of making fun of the silly beggars for wanting access to the most important communication tool in the modern world.

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Apple yanks international travel plugs over shock worries

Cuddles
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Re: Just how hard is it

"to design and manufacture this type of device?"

They're actually pretty complicated. See this article for some details, and the iPad charger teardown on the same site for more details on exactly what can be wrong and how it can be dangerous - http://www.righto.com/2012/10/a-dozen-usb-chargers-in-lab-apple-is.html

You'd have thought the prongs would be one of the easier parts to get right, but 12 failures after selling god knows how many millions over the span of more than a decade isn't exactly a high failure rate. I would assume the issue is that they don't fail to a safe state rather than that 12 people out of millions have managed to break a small piece of plastic, and since it's a voluntary recall that almost certainly means that Apple have decided it's better PR to provide a new design that's even safer rather than that any regulatory body has actually said they're considered unsafe.

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US still lagging on broadband but FCC promises change is coming

Cuddles
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Politics

I don't really understand why this is a political issue. Surely Republicans want decent internet just as much as Democrats do? And while you can argue all you like about what is the best way to ensure everyone gets it, there are no politics involved in the simple fact of how many people currently do.

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Stop everything! PC sales did increase in the UK over Christmas

Cuddles
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The PC is dead

Long live the PC!

"What is the difference between a notebook, and a mobile workstation? Does a mobile workstation come with it's own sherpa?"

A workstation has actual processing power. For a desktop that generally mean multiple Xeon processors, Quadro (or FirePro) GPU at minimum with possibly Tesla depending on the type of work, and a ton of RAM - they still seem to sell them with as little as 64GB, but you'll be laughed at if you actually try buying something with that little. Obviously mobile workstations don't tend to have such high specs, but you're still looking at Xeon, Quadro and lots more RAM than a regular laptop (64GB being more like the maximum rather than minimum in this case).

A netbook, on the other and, is a lightweight, underpowered laptop that can't do much other than brows the internet and type stuff in Word. Generally their processing power is enough to decode 1080p video and not a lot more - low power CPU with integrated graphics and probably no more than 8GB RAM, if that.

Or to put it simply, the difference between a netbook and workstation is about a factor of 10 in price. You can get the former for a few hundred, while the latter is a couple of grand minimum for half decent specs.

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Boeing just about gives up on the 747

Cuddles
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Re: 0.3 of a plane?

".3 is not a third."

The remainder is those bolts you always have left over after assembly, even though you're absolutely sure you followed the instructions perfectly.

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It's 2016 and idiots still use '123456' as their password

Cuddles
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Re: Nothing wrong with insecure passwords

"Actually there *is* something wrong. Sites with no sensitive data should not ask for a password."

The problem is that just because something isn't truly important sensitive data doesn't mean you want it visible to every random person wandering past. Essentially, we have two levels of security - preventing casual access, and protecting valuables. And this applies to pretty much everything, not just computers. For example, most houses are incredibly insecure; many regular locks can be picked in a couple of minutes even if you don't have some clever way of faking a key, and even if the lock is tricky there are few houses that a good kick or a half-brick in a sock won't get you inside. The point of locking our doors is not to stop the determined, highly competent burglars, but simply to prevent people being able to wander into your house on a whim. Similarly, people tend to close their curtains or have nets to prevent people looking in as they pass by, not to prevent investigation by spies or even to hide the kinky things they're getting up to in their living rooms.

So there's nothing wrong with having passwords for pointless sites with no important data. Your My Little Pony forum account might not be important, but it's still your account that you probably don't want others using whenever they feel like. It's just important to recognise the difference between the security necessary on such an account, and the security necessary on something like your bank account where malicious access would actually be a serious problem. The issue isn't that unimportant sites insist on passwords, but rather than all sites tend to insist on the same level of (usually rather poor) security regardless of what level of security is actually appropriate.

@ GrumpenKraut

"at which point everybody has sticky notes with the password of the week somewhere at the desk."

This gets brought up a lot, but it really isn't a big problem. Most attempts at malicious action are made remotely. If someone can see the note stuck to your monitor, they probably already have physical access. Put the note in a drawer and even people walking past can't see it, and if someone has the access and time to physically look through your things it's already game over regardless of what you might have written down. Having a record of your credentials in a place that the vast majority of attackers will never have access to really isn't a bad idea at all; it allows you to have much more secure passwords since you don't need to worry about remembering them. The tiny increase in risk from someone potentially looking at your note is likely to be more than offset by the increase in security it allows.

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Cuddles
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Easily remembered...

"Security experts warn that easy to remember passwords are increased easily guessed by potential attackers."

But as usual they fail to note than difficult to remember passwords are, in fact, difficult to remember.

"over 20 billion guesses a second against Microsoft Windows password hashes. In fact, a user that had a password in the top 25 passwords would have their password guessed by such a rig in under a second"

No shit. Presumably those top 25 passwords are the first ones tried, so a rig capable of making only 26 guesses per second would still manage that in under a second. I mean sure, a billionth of a second is indeed under a second so the statement is technically correct, but I think it rather fails at indicating the relevant scale.

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Brit boffins brew nanotech self-cleaning glass

Cuddles
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@Rol

"Self cleaning glass has seemingly been available for many years, as I distinctly remember the news about a coating that basically Teflon's your windows.

I must also assume it is bloody expensive and only practical for luxury liner's portholes and other hard to reach places, as I have never heard of it since."

The difference is that this isn't simply a coating, various kinds of which have indeed been around for a while and hit the news every now and then, but the actual structure of the glass itself. Coatings can wear off, but unless someone starts sanding your windows down this is likely to be a lot longer lasting, as well as not involving any toxic materials and so on. While they do discuss a coating as well, that's actually an entirely separate thing and it probably doesn't help their case by mixing the two up; the nano-structures are what make the glass self-cleaning while the coating just helps block IR radiation, and either could be used independently.

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Eighteen year old server trumped by functional 486 fleet!

Cuddles
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BBCB

The hospital I used to work in had some older patient records on microfilm and microfiche, with the database to look them up held on a BBCB. Probably not run continuously since the '80s, but it was usually left on even when not in use so it must have had a fairly impressive uptime. As far as I know it's still there, since it would cost money to have someone figure out how to transfer the database and hospitals aren't exactly known for their ample funding levels these days.

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Inside Intel's CPU-level multi-factor auth (and why we've got deja vu)

Cuddles
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Do away with passwords?

"Authentication data could [be] a PIN"

A PIN is a password. It's just usually a very short one limited to a set of 10 characters, and therefore extremely weak. They are useful in places where convenience is more important, such as locking your phone with one to prevent casual access, but they're certainly not a replacement for passwords because that just means you're replacing one password with a much weaker one.

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KeysForge will give you printable key blueprints using a photo of a lock

Cuddles
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@Darryl

"Wouldn't it be easier to look at the lock, see the 'Weiser' or 'Yale' or whatever stamped on the case, and run to your nearest key shop to get a matching blank?"

Cheaper too. The article says it costs $10-25 for a metal key blank made this way, but it's only around a fiver to get a metal key cut at Timpsons, including the blank, labour, and their profit. So compared to traditional burglary techniques this method is slower, more expensive, and still requires you to spend hours fiddling around with someone's door in an incredibly suspicious manner.

Since the software involves looking for the dark part in the photo, presumably it could also be foiled by simply paining your lock black.

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Cuddles
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Re: I'm confused

"An end on picture of the lock allows them to extrude the required shape for a key blank."

Ah, that makes more sense, I found the article a bit confusing about that as well. Although in that case, it doesn't seem particularly useful. OK, so you can now make a key blank from a picture of the lock without needing to go anywhere near it. And then you need prolonged physical access to said lock in order to slowly test lots of keys made from your blanks until you've figured out what shape you need to actually open it. If you have the time to do that, there are any number of other methods you could already have used to break into a house, many of which will be significantly quicker and easier while looking less suspicious. Maybe useful for James Bond if he doesn't want anyone to know he's been there, but for someone planning on robbing the place a good kick or a brick through the window is generally going to be more effective.

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AMD accuses Intel of VW-like results fudging

Cuddles
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Different benchmarks are different

"The pair reckon the SYSmark 2014 shows a 50 per cent gap between AMD and Chipzilla machines, but the same machines running Futuremark's PCMark8 tests showed only a seven per cent gap.

In SYSmark, Salinas claims “there is an excessive[ly] high amount of CPU tasking being done – that is, that the benchmark is only evaluating the CPU side of the system.

PCMark8, on the other hand, has “activity going on on the CPU, GPU and video sub-components of the system”, he said."

In other words, the benchmarks test different aspects of a system, and therefore unsurprisingly give different results. As it happens, it appears that a benchmarks focussed on CPU performance says that AMD are crap compared to Intel, while a benchmark comparing whole systems in which the CPU is only a portion of the total computing power has less difference when the only difference is the CPUs. Not exactly something anyone should be surprised about, and I think this complaint portrays AMD in a much worse light than Intel - they're basically upset that their CPUs aren't as good and are desperately looking for someone to blame.

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Facebook is no charity, and the ‘free’ in Free Basics comes at a price

Cuddles
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Appeal

"But how appealing is a taxi company that will only take you to certain destinations, or an electricity provider that will only power certain home electrical devices?"

If the alternative is no access to car travel or no power at all, why would that not be appealing? When it comes down to it, that's the whole point - such a scheme may not be good for society, competition, and so on, but it relies on being extremely good for the individual recipients to get people to accept it. Note that it's the government complaining about it, not mass protests from those being offered free but limited internet.

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Optimus Prime goes under the hammer

Cuddles
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Hang on

These are actually real and not just CGI? Also, I'm not really a hardcore Transformers fan, but didn't Bumblebee used to be yellow?

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British bureaucrats are world's most social-media-tastic

Cuddles
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Fourth?

"It beats the Twitter account of the prime minister of Turkey into fourth place."

And yet the graph directly underneath this statement clearly shows Turkey in third place.

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Windows 10 phones are not dead yet. Acer, Alcatel OneTouch just made some new ones

Cuddles
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So an incredibly expensive phone with functionality that no-one wants, or a decent cheap one that no-one can have. Probably not going to do much to breathe life into Windows Mobile.

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Comcast's Xfinity home alarms can be disabled by wireless jammers

Cuddles
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Re: There's an interesting implementation of "fail safe"

"Oops, security system has failed in a detectable manner. I shan't worry, I'm sure your property is safe!"

The problem is false alarms - the vast majority of time when there's a wifi problem, the property is safe. If they actually used a failsafe system that sounded an alarm every time it had a communication issue, everyone would just ignore the alerts, and most likely refuse to use the kit at all. You already see exactly the same problem with regular house and car alarms - since the vast majority of alarms are false, no-one pays the slightest bit of attention when they hear one going off.

In addition, while others have noted that not all criminals are complete idiots, the fact remains that an awful lot of them are. While a small minority of burglars might be able to take advantage of flaws like this, the majority are, at best, no more tech savvy than the general population. So you have a choice between a system that will be effective against the majority of burglars but can be circumvented by those who have reasonable tech understanding and have done the research, or a system which is not effective against anyone because it constantly goes off all the time and just gets switched off or removed.

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EU reforms could pave way for smells and noises to be trade-mark protected – expert

Cuddles
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Re: Open the way for trademark abuse

"The problem here is that smells and noises are almost always to some extent functional. The consumer wants a product that produces a particular smell or noise, but doesn't care who made it."

An awful lot of people don't seem to understand what trademarks are for, which is what leads to most of the complaining. It has nothing to do with what sounds or smell a product might make, in fact those would be explicitly excluded from being trademarked. A trademark is exactly what it says - a mark representing your trade. They are a mark that identifies the source of a product or service. Intel, for example, currently have a logo consisting of the word "intel" with a line around it, and by trademarking it they ensure that no-one else can use that logo or anything too similar to it. They also have a distinctive jingle that is played in adverts at the same time as the logo is displayed. That jingle is copyright, but with no other protection someone could hypothetically pay the composer for the right to play it and use the same tune to advertise their own product. These new rules would mean Intel could also trademark the jingle and ensure no-one else could use it to compete with Intel's business even if they had the right to play the tune - so you could still use it as a ringtone for example, but not to advertise processors. Note that the Intel jingle is not a noise people expect their PC to make, and Intel could not trademark a whirring fan noise; that may be the noise their products produce, but it's not a mark identifying their trade.

So as far as I can see, this is an entirely sensible piece of legislation. It extends identifying marks from the purely visual to a range of other identifiers that are already in common use but don't currently have the same protection. It will not prevent competition because it's not possible to trademark a product at all - someone else can always make a product that does exactly the same as yours as long as they don't put your logo on it and pretend you made it. And it won't lead to all, or indeed any, smells or sounds suddenly becoming proprietary and unavailable for use by the public - just as Cadbury trademarking the colour purple only applies to a specific shade being used for the specific purpose of selling chocolate, trademarking any smell or sound would only apply to the trade it is relevant to; you could use the Intel jingle to sell hot cross buns and the fact Intel have a trademark for its use with computers is irrelevant (although of course copyright laws would still apply).

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New HTTP error code 451 to signal censorship

Cuddles
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Quis censores ipsos censor?

"Don't expect to see 451 codes pop up in countries that routinely censor the internet, however. Typically those countries are not overly keen on letting their citizens know just how much information they are hiding from them."

So what will be the new code to let us know the error code has been censored? And then the one to say that the censorship of the censor code has itself been censored. Who censors the censors?

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Microsoft steps up Windows 10 nagging

Cuddles
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I don't respond well to force

I know several people who have installed Win10 and by all accounts it's actually pretty good for the average user. But at this point I really don't care how good it might be. If you offer me a product, I may or may not take you up on that offer. If you try to jam it down my throat, I absolutely will not accept it, and the harder you try to force it on me the harder I will tell you to go fuck yourself.

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After Death Star II blew: Dissecting the tech of Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens

Cuddles
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Actually pretty realistic

"that means that ship has had the same design for at least 50 years, which again seems highly unlikely."

Perhaps some familiarity with the real world would help with this kind of analysis? Real weapon systems frequently have lifespans at least this long. An obvious comparison to star destroyers would be aircraft carriers - the first Nimitz class carrier began construction 47 years ago, while the most recent was finished just 6 years ago, and all 10 remain in active service. The M1 Abrams tank was designed in the early '70s and again remains in very active service; there have been upgrades, but nothing more visually obvious than is noted in the article. Turkey just recently shot down a plane from the '60s using one from the '70s. 50 years is not unlikely at all, it's exactly what we can see right now. And of course this is just looking at modern equipment, for most of human history weapons have remained largely unchanged for centuries or even millennia.

"it’s rare to have any technology in an advanced civilisation remain static for so long"

This depends a bit on what you define as "advanced civilisation", but given any sensible view this is again nonsense. If by "advanced" you mean "as advanced as seen in Star Wars", then obviously we have never actually seen one and the word "rare" is simply nonsense. On the other hand, if you mean it along the lines of "sophisticated tool using civilisation" then it's the exact opposite of rare - for the vast majority of human history technology has been almost entirely static. For transportation we had feet, then horses, boats, carts and finally carts without the horses, and air travel. The same applies to virtually everything else - architectural periods are defined in terms of centuries, ages (ie. bronze, iron, etc.) are even longer and are defined entirely by the dominant technologies of the time. It's only in the last century or so that there has been any real pace to the advancement of technology. The old idea of wondering what someone teleported to the modern day from 1000 years in the past makes for some nice speculation, but for the vast majority of human history someone transported 1000 years into the future wouldn't even notice the difference as far as technology goes.

Any claims about rapid technological progress in the future rely on the assumption that the current rate of progress will continue. But there's no reason to assume that to be the case, and some fairly good ones to assume it won't. Moore's law cannot continue indefinitely, nanotechnology will probably do some cool things but manipulating matter on a smaller scale gets much harder, efficiency of motors, power storage density, and many other things all have hard physical limits that we must some day run up against even if we're not there yet. When dealing with space opera you have to discount any speculation about a technological singularity, which leaves us with the simple physical impossibility of technological progress past a certain point. A galaxy-wide space-faring civilisation which has existed for tens of thousands of years cannot have a rate of technological progress as quick as we currently do in the real world. By far the most likely scenarios would be one in which the basic technology has been essentially static for centuries or longer, and design changes would be based on operational needs (from the series so far we have a large-scale war followed by internal pacification and policing of an empire followed by fighting guerillas) or simply fashion.

Of course, that all assumes that anyone involved with the film has actually given any of this a moment's thought. Given that we're dealing with fantasy space opera, not hard sci-fi, that's rather unlikely. It's just a fortunate coincidence that not thinking about it at all leads to pretty much the same result as thinking about it far too much, and it's only those who try to think about it a bit but don't get all the way there who end up with a different conclusion.

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Memory-resident modular malware menaces moneymen

Cuddles
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"never touches the victims' hard disks... can even corrupt a hard disk"

Corrupting hard disks without ever touching them? Not a bad trick.

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Top Android app devs found exfiltrating mystery stealth packets

Cuddles
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Re: @Chris 125

"It's a great idea, but I fear the practice will simply become that any app, when so denied any given permission, will either refuse to operate, or operate in some kind of useless limp mode, until the permission is granted/restored."

I'm, usually, not quite so pessimistic. The vast majority of app developers don't actually have anything useful to do with all the data they collect, they do it simply because they can and because everyone else is doing it. Those not actually making money from their data slurping will not continue to demand silly permissions because that would ultimately lose them users and money - even if only a small proportion of people refuse to use such apps, that's still money lost for no reason. It's only the big players who actually have real business models based on data collection - Google, Facebook, and so on, who would actually stand to lose money from being denied data and will therefore continue to demand it no matter what.

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Brit filmmaker plans 10hr+ Paint Drying epic

Cuddles
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Re: Funny

"Film classification is generally a good thing, but censorship is a bit iffy."

Absolutely. The BBFC is not a bad idea in principle, but its job should be limited to what the name actually now says - classifying films, not censoring them. The absolute maximum rating a film should be able to have is "18 - fuck it, you're an adult now and can watch whatever you choose". Letting parents know that it might not be a great idea for their kids to watch certain things is not a bad thing. Saying that no-one can see Backdoor Sluts 10 because it contains slightly too many nipples is. The problem with the BBFC is that it currently does both, not that it exists at all.

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eBay scammer steals identity of special agent investigating him

Cuddles
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@Ben Tasker

Maybe they've been bought by Yahoo?!?

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Next-gen killer hurricane hunter to be armed with Nvidia graphics chips

Cuddles
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Re: If the model is flawed, better precision will not help

"But if the model used by NOAA is really flawed (and one wrong result does not necessarily mean it is), then adding more precision and computing power might not be the answer."

The problem is that there are actually multiple problems. The model is surely flawed and there is plenty of work being done to come up with better models. But at the same time, we know that no matter what model is used and how good it is, better resolution will improve the results. So it's not simply a case of throwing more computing power at it and hoping to solve everything, but rather that throwing more computing power at it will definitely help with one of the problems, making it that much easier to work on all the other problems.

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Cuddles
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Re: GFDL?

"GFDL is a national weather service model."

No it isn't. GFDL is the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. It is a part of the NOAA focussed on basic research, it doesn't provide actual forecasts. The GFS is the Global Forecast System, administered by the NCEI (National Centres for Environmental Information), which is the branch that actually does active forecasting. From the GFDL's factsheet:

"GFDL supports the National Weather Service'sefforts to produce a state-of-the-art weather prediction system. GFDL’s Finite Volume dynamical core (FV3) is among contenders from across several Federal agencies to upgrade the dynamical core used in current operational weather forecasts. FV3 provides superior representation of rotating flows that characterize significant weather events, such as strong winter storms, tropical cyclones, super-cell thunderstorms, and tornadoes."

In other words, GFDL attempts to produce the best model possible, which the NCEI then uses to actually produce forecasts. The data shown in the article compares the model currently in use with a new one being developed but not yet in use. (And also the predictions of the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast system, from yet another part of NOAA and presumably using another different model).

It's also worth bearing in mind that while the GFDL prediction was better for the later part of the storm path, it was actually worse than all the others on the early part. In this particular case the later part turned out to be more important for the USA, it's not an obviously better model just from looking at the result shown here. If you had to make a decision on which model to believe based only on the first half of the storm's path, the green line would not be the obvious choice.

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US govt just can't hire enough cyber-Sherlocks

Cuddles
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So who do they have?

"five of the FBI's regional 56 Cyber Task Force teams don’t have a computer specialist on hand"

What exactly is "cyber" about a task force that can't handle computers? Surely such a task force would be made up of only computer specialists and no-one else?

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Samsung S6 calls open to man-in-the-middle base station snooping

Cuddles
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Firmware update?

"The malicious base station then pushes firmware to the phone's baseband processor"

While in this particular case it was used for a MitM attack, far more worrying is the fact that apparently any random can install arbitrary code to a phone simply by pretending to be a mobile mast. Why is it even possible to push software onto a phone without notification or input from the user? Low-level software like firmware has far more potential for screwing things up if it's faulty or malicious, so there should be more security for it, not less, or apparently none at all.

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US Congress grants leftpondians the right to own asteroid booty

Cuddles
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"My thought is it's along the line of an exclusive-importation rights deal"

I don't think so. As far as I can see, it's simply that there was previously no law covering ownership of material in space, so if you went and mined something and brought it back to Earth you wouldn't necessarily legally own it. It's the same on Earth - you can't just wander around digging stuff up and saying it's yours, things like oil and minerals are governed by licenses, treaties and so on. All this law is doing is explicitly applying the same to space - if you go and dig stuff up in space, that stuff is yours. The bit about sovereignty is just saying that while the stuff you've dug up will be recognised as yours, that doesn't mean the USA considers the place you dug it up from to be theirs.

Essentially, the law simply says exactly what everyone would have assumed to be the case anyway. But the thing about law is that you can't just assume anything, at some point someone needs to have actually written it down.

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Boffins teach Wi-Fi routers to dance to the same tune

Cuddles
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Re: Clock signals

@jabuzz

Fair points, but mostly not insurmountable. My watch happily picks up signals in the UK (60kHz), Germany (77.5kHz), USA (60kHz) and Japan (40 and 60kHz). And of course those are just the signal sources, it generally manages to pick up a signal practically anywhere in western Europe and that's just based on places I've actually travelled. If a small, fairly cheap, low power watch can manage that, it surely can't be beyond the wit of man to do so in kit like routers. Or of course there's always the possibility of simply making kit slightly more localised - everything stays the same except the antenna and decoder. Phones already need significantly more variation than that to operate in different countries. Although admittedly that doesn't help places with no time signal at all.

In any case, I'm still struggling to see how anything could be worse than "search for a random radio station and hope it's the same one someone else picked". My car routinely finds different stations than I can in my house, and getting in a friend's car will inevitably result in a different selection again. The idea that routers would reliably be able to all fix on the same signal is utterly ridiculous. Clock signals may not be a perfect solution, but they'd be a hell of a lot better than relying on blind luck.

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Cuddles
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Clock signals

Instead of messing about looking for a random radio station which not everyone agrees on (their method of just picking the lowest frequency with a good signal guarantees that different receivers in different positions will pick different stations) and then looking at arbitrary structure that happens to be present, why not just use the actual clock signals? Most countries have them, or can at least see the signals from neighbouring countries, and the technology is already extremely widespread in regular clocks.

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So is it 4.5G or LTE-Advanced Pro? Either way, it’s pretty damn quick

Cuddles
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"is it 4.5G or LTE-Advanced Pro"

Given that the original target for 4G was already 1Gbit/s, how about we just call it 4G? There's a reason LTE was originally supposed to be referred to as 3.9G.

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UN privacy head slams 'worse than scary' UK surveillance bill

Cuddles
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"Why doesn't GCHQ just put spies into IS and the rest."

What makes you think they don't? Where do you think all the intelligence used for targeting missile strikes at specific people comes from? Sure, there is plenty of electronic surveillance as well (which mostly consists of waiting for some idiot to give away their location on Facebook), but most of it still is boots on the ground. And just like the old days, for the most part that means using local people, defectors, double agents, and whistle-blowers rather than sending James Bond on a daring infiltration mission.

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TalkTalk boss: 'Customers think we're doing right thing after attack'

Cuddles
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Customers think TalkTalk is doing the right thing

In other news, people who deliberately choose TalkTalk to be their internet provider generally aren't too bright and don't have the slightest clue what "the right thing" would actually be.

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Royal Mail mulls drones for rural deliveries

Cuddles
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Re: @Martin 47

"Maybe the problems are caused by living in the big cities where everyone always seems to be in such a hurry all the time and being a postman is seen as a menial short term job instead of job to be done well. Maybe the prime cause is massively expensive housing so the lower paid workers who are needed can't afford to live there and desperately need to move on and up. My little 3 bed house would easily be worth 10x or more in certain parts of London."

Given that I live in a small rural town, it seems unlikely London is to blame. In fact, when I did live in a big city (Birmingham rather than London), I had far fewer problems with deliveries. Although most likely because anything left outside would be stolen within 30 seconds so even the worst delivery companies weren't stupid enough to try it. As for the "local posty", that's probably a large part of the problem - parcels are generally not delivered by the local posty.

The other main part of the problem is that none of them give a fuck because as far as they're concerned we're not their customers, the people paying for the delivery are. You can't complain about their service and you can't choose a different provider, all you can do is complain to whoever you ordered something from and hope they bother to pass it on.

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Cuddles
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@Martin 47

"and just how is the drone or driverless truck going to post a letter through a letterbox?"

Given that most deliveries apparently consist of throwing a package on the floor, outside, in the rain, in full view of a public footpath, with no attempt to knock on the door or leave any notification that a delivery has been made, I don't see how drones could possibly make things any worse. I guess it could go out of control, smash through my window and set the house on fire, but at least then they'd have actually done their fucking job and delivered the thing.

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Microsoft Band 2 wrist watchers in pay-first-ship-much-later rage

Cuddles
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"shouldn't ship yet"

I'm confused. Why the fuck not? If they're finished and ready to ship, what possible advantage is gained by refusing to ship them to people who have already ordered and paid for them?

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E.ON fined £7m for smart meter fail

Cuddles
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Costs?

"E.ON has also gained financially by avoiding the costs of installing and operating the new meters."

The entire selling point of smart metres has been that everyone saves money - customers can optimise their usage and only pay for exactly what they use, providers get to reduce waste and optimise production against demand, the government gets all kinds of tasty data to play with. If E.ON have gained financially by not installing metres, that kind of suggests that the entire thing has been a pack of lies from the start. Which is a revelation I'm sure we all find extremely shocking, but it is a little surprising that they're so blatant about admitting it. Maybe the right hand should have asked the left hand to leave that part out of the criticism? "You save money by not doing the thing we said would cost less" isn't quite the message they were supposed to be sending.

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Facebook conjures up a trap for the unwary: scanning your camera for your friends

Cuddles
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Re: There's an opt out...?

"Face recognition is fairly expensive, so it's hard to do in a way that would work acceptably (time, memory use, battery impact) on everything, including low-end Android kit, without sending something to a server farm."

Indeed, but that doesn't really help matters. If they try to do the work locally on your phone, it will use up all your battery. If they try to ship it off to a data centre somewhere, it will use up all your data allowance. And of course, sending data also uses up the battery to some extent. So even if people are happy with the idea of Facebook scanning everything they ever do on their phone, I can't see how anyone could actually want such a system simply because there's no way for it to work without completely fucking up the normal working of their phone.

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Einstein's brain to be picked by satellites

Cuddles
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Re: Wait. What the ....

"And that's how science works."

"Are you sure?"

Yes. You are confusing science and scientists. The latter are squishy meatbags susceptible to the full range of human foibles - mistakes, fraud, political pressure, egos, and so on. The former is not. It doesn't matter how much you screw up or fake your results now, when someone repeats the same experiments (or different ones looking at the same thing) next month, next year, or next century, they will find out and correct things. Anti-science nuts love to posit grand conspiracies covering the whole world and running for centuries, but in the real world science is inevitably self-correcting in the long term.

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Yay, more 'STEM' grads! You're using your maths degree to do ... what?

Cuddles
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Re: If you can't calculate the angles on a 50-cent coin...

So very much this. Basic maths like geometry and algebra are used constantly not just in a huge variety of professions, but also throughout the everyday lives of most people. They simply don't realise that's what they're doing most of the time; you don't need to be writing down a solving a big pile of xes and ys for the underlying concepts to be used. The idea that these skills are only relevant to a small number of professional scientists is utterly ridiculous.

Of course, this is not a new thing. Richard Feynman lamented that students he was teaching were unable to answer a question that was nothing more than a rewording of one they'd just answered, because while they'd been taught the maths they hadn't been taught how to actually relate it to anything. And unfortunately, this is what's still missing from a lot of education - it's not enough to just teach people something, you need to also teach them why you're doing so and how it's relevant to them. See the author of this article for a perfect example of the latter part being missed.

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Google engineer names and shames dodgy USB Type-C cable makers

Cuddles
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Alarming?

More like entirely expected. For some things, buying cheap (mainly Chinese) knock-offs on Amazon and eBay is a reasonable way to save money. For chargers and batteries, it's madness. You'll only save a couple of quid at most on a USB charger or cable, but only a complete idiot would be surprised that the cheap one is a massive fire hazard.

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