* Posts by Cuddles

374 posts • joined 3 Nov 2011

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Harrison Ford's leg, in the Star Wars film, with the Millennium Falcon door

Cuddles
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"Door was operated by a person. Door was stopped by a safety. Door was probably operated because he signalled by hitting the damn button.

What happened to LOTO or personal responsibility for your own safety?"

It may depend on why you assume this sequence of events happened.

A) Ford randomly wanders around the set hitting buttons because he's bored;

B) Ford is practising a scene that involves him hitting the button, understanding that nothing will happen because the set is turned off for practice.

In the former scenario, I'd certainly assign at least some blame to Ford since pressing random buttons in an industrial setting is generally a bad idea. In the latter, Ford would appear to be entirely blameless. No doubt other scenarios could be constructed in which all, some or none of the blame is assigned to various different parties. The details haven't been made public, but a court appears to have decided that it was, in fact, the fault of the company managing the set and not Ford's. Unless you have access to information not in the article, blaming Ford seems a little odd.

As for the more general question of what happened to personal responsibility for your own safety, there's a reason health and safety laws exist in the first place. You might as well complain that it's child labourer's own fault when they get their arms chopped off in a mill. As a society we've decided that actually not all accidents are entirely the fault of the person involved in them, and that employers have the responsibility to minimise risk to their employees (and anyone else on site) as much as is practical.

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It's 2016 and your passwords can still be sniffed from wireless keyboards

Cuddles
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Re: There is a reason why I use wired KB's

"Bluetooth range is pretty short. Unless you live in an apartment with paper thin walls, I don't think people could get close enough to your keyboard to steal keystrokes."

What does Bluetooth range have to do with anything? As the article explicitly states, no Bluetooth keyboards were found to have a problem, it's wireless keyboards using various other radio connections that are the problem, and they could have pretty much any arbitrary range depending on what transmitter they happen to use - up to 100m away according to this report.

"As for the mouse, what exactly are they going to learn by stealing your mouse movements and clicks?"

Who knows? Good security generally means you're not leaking information at all, rather than simply hoping the information you are leaking isn't useful to anyone. There are endless examples of people not bothering to secure seemingly innocuous information only for someone else to prove it wasn't that innocuous after all. A recent related example would be using the accelerometer in a phone, often not secured because it can't do anything harmful, to reconstruct keystrokes from a keyboard on the same desk.

Obviously there are limits and wrapping everything in tin foil is overkill for most people. However, deliberately broadcasting all your information in plain text for anyone to see is generally considered something to be avoided even by those who aren't especially paranoid.

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Did the Russians really hack the DNC or is this another Sony Pictures moment? You decide

Cuddles
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"Russians" or "The Russians"

There's a rather big difference between saying someone in Russia probably did it, and that it was an attack carried out by the Russian government. The evidence seems to support the former (although it's far from conclusive), but there doesn't seem to be anything at all to support the latter. This may surprise some people, but Putin doesn't actually have personal control over every single criminal in the country. Plus it's worth bearing in mind that this is much too early to try pushing a political scandal to affect the election; if you want voters to actually remember an issue it needs to be a couple of weeks before the date, not months earlier before the candidates are even official. Whatever flaws Putin and his cronies may have, political naivety is not one of them.

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Florida Man cleared of money laundering after selling Bitcoins to Agent Ponzi

Cuddles
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Laundering?

My understanding is that laundering money means taking money that has been acquired by illegal means and undertaking some shenanigans to make it appear legitimate. Telling someone you're going to use some money to do something illegal isn't the same thing at all. Regardless of the status of bitcoin, the charges here don't appear to have anything to do with the actual facts of the case.

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Mobile broadband now cheaper than wired, for 95 per cent of humanity

Cuddles
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Re: "digital divides persist across economic and gender lines"

"Can someone please tell me what gender has to do with the speed of copper or fiber ?"

Absolutely nothing, which is why the report doesn't say anything of the sort. The line you quote simply refers to the fact that more men have access to the internet than women (or at least more use it, which amounts to the same thing), not that being male magically makes it faster if you do have it. It's no different from the economic part, which you don't seem to have questioned - being rich doesn't make any difference to the speed of copper or fibre, but it does affect whether you have access to it in the first place.

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Cuddles
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"Sounds weird. In sweden, assuming you use a lot of data, mobile internet is ridiculously expensive compared with wired."

Indeed. As far as I can tell the problem comes with their use of "comparable". The prices are based on comparing a mobile data plan with a 1GB cap and a landline data plan with a 1GB cap. The former is a fairly common limit, the latter is virtually non-existent (BT's lowest cap is 12GB, for example). A comparison of price per bit transferred or price per unit bandwidth would look very different. It seems rather like saying plane travel is expensive compared to a car based on a trip to the local shops, while ignoring the facts that the price per mile of a transatlantic flight looks a lot better and that the car is simply not capable of such a journey at all.

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After Monday's landing, SpaceX wants to do it in triplicate

Cuddles
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Price

"Okay, so by landing and re-using a booster, they are saving how much money? a few hundred million dollars?"

An Ariane 5 launch costs up to around €130 million, with the cost of a single satellite as low as $60 million. Falcon 9 missions taking a Dragon capsule to the ISS currently cost $133 million, and the standard price for a satellite launch is currently $62 million. Falcon is cheaper, and has already brought prices down due to the competition, but there aren't hundreds of millions there to save, only tens at the very best and not even many of those.

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Hacker shows Reg how one leaked home address can lead to ruin

Cuddles
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Re: People don't listen

It's not that people don't listen, it's that they don't care. Humans are social animals, and tools like Facebook allow them to socialise with people they might otherwise be cut off from - if a family member moves to a different country, or even just within the same country, you can continue to interact with them where previously you might share a letter once a year at best. That's the trouble with all the whining about how stupid people are to use such tools; they amount to telling people they should become hermits and never interact with anyone if they can't do it face to face. It's certainly possible to share too much, and there are types of information that can make it very easy for others to commit fraud, but that means you should teach people about the actual risks, not tell them to just stop being sociable.

As for the risk, as others have noted this very article clearly demonstrates just how tiny they really are. For all the supposed cleverness, this guy managed to find a bunch of publicly available information. Births, marriages and deaths are publicly registered. Land ownership is publicly registered. Businesses are publicly registered. Finding out a person's family and company details is not some horrific invasion of privacy only made possible by the internet, it's something everyone is able to access with a couple of calls to the local council. All the internet does is potentially make it a bit quicker and cheaper. If someone has a reason to target you, that's not going to change anything, and if they don't then as others have pointed out, there are over 7 billion other people in the world and many of them are much more tempting targets.

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5G: Mother of all pipes, or actually useful?

Cuddles
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4G would be nice

Shouldn't we have 4G first before people start worrying about 5G? LTE was a cludge that was retroactively called 4G because no-one was willing to put the work in to actually meet the original standard. And of course LTE Advanced, which in theory should meet the standard but so far still doesn't in practice, has even been advertised as 4G+ despite being one of the first offerings of actual 4G at best. Of course, Wiki gives a good idea of the reason for all this:

"New mobile generations have appeared about every ten years"

Obviously it's more important to get something, anything, out the door with a new label on it than it is to have that something be useful or the label to actually mean anything. The fact that the "trend" consists of a grand total of two data points (the arrivals of GSM and then 3G) doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone. It's a trend, therefore 4G must have happened in 2011 and 5G must come by 2020 no matter what.

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Samsung deals out microSD-crushing faster fingernail flash cards

Cuddles
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Universal

Here used to mean "Not actually compatible with anything else on the planet and, in fact, the exact opposite of any conceivable meaning of the word universal.".

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Tesla whacks guardrail in Montana, driver blames autopilot

Cuddles
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"But just sitting and staring, for hours on end, without losing focus? It's just not going to happen"

That's why you're supposed to stop for a rest every hour or two. Those signs everywhere saying "Tiredness kills, take a break" aren't just there for amusement. If people ignore that and keep driving until they fall asleep, it's entirely their own fault whether or not they have cruise control.

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China prototypes pre-exascale super trio with its own non-US chips

Cuddles
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Re: Foot, Point, shoot.

"So China did exactly what China always does and learnt how to build the chips it needs itself."

Well, not really. Of the three supers mentioned in the article, one is ARM, one is AMD, and the other is Sunway which are supposedly based on DEC Alpha, although obviously there's not too much detail known about them. And of course, most non-Intel chips are already built in China or nearby countries anyway. So sure, banning export of Intel chips certainly didn't help the US in any way, but China are still almost exclusively using US and UK designed chips that are manufactured in the same factories as most other chips in the world. Intel got somewhat screwed, but the chip industry as a whole will hardly notice the difference.

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A journey down the UK's '3D Tongue' into its mini industrial revolution

Cuddles
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Ugh

"While other "big hope" concepts such as genetic engineering, nanotech and quantum physics have yet to make much of an impact"

A significant portion of the world's food is now genetically engineered, and most modern technology is entirely reliant on nanotechnology and quantum physics - anything involving any kind of transistors or electronics requires both. Meanwhile 3D printing has had a useful but so far relatively minor impact on industrial prototyping.

3D printing is certainly more than just the gimicky hobbyist scene that's all most people are aware of, but lets not pretend it's somehow more impactful than sciences and technologies which have fundamentally changed the entire face of modern civilisation.

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Wannabe Prime Minister Andrea Leadsom thinks all websites should be rated – just like movies

Cuddles
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Easy solution

Pretty much all video games, regardless of rating, have a notice saying "Online interactions not rated". Presumably websites can simply use the same disclaimer.

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AMD promises code fix for power-hungry Radeon RX 480 GPU

Cuddles
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Re: Just a small bump in the road...

"I used to work in a computer shop, and nvidia cards outnumbered ati/amd 2:1 for RMAs."

Of course, Nvidia cards outnumber AMD by a lot more than 2:1 in sales, so that actually suggests their engineering is significantly better.

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Remember those stupid hoverboards? 500,000+ recalled in the US after they started exploding

Cuddles
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Re: Huh?

"42 cases of burns etc.

16 cases of severe property damage.

Somewhere between 42 and 58 total incidents.

That wasn't too hard to work out, was it?"

Evidently it was. What it actually says is that there were 42 reported incidents of overheating, 16 of which caused either burns or severe property damage.

@ledswinger

"From 500k devices? Sounds pretty good odds to me."

From 267k devices; that was just the incidents for Swagway .There were 99 in total between all manufacturers, although Swagway appear to be the only ones that have actually injured anyone.

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Theft of twenty-somethings' IDs surges

Cuddles
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Re: For context, how much has the rate increased for those over 30?

"Without a comparison figure these increases tell us absolutely nothing other than fraud is increasing. I would be surprised if the rate of older people being defrauded over the phone or via email wasn't increasing at a similar rate."

Beat me to it. Rather sad to see people whining about stupid millennials when the actual data shows they have both the smallest percentage increase and the smallest absolute amount of fraud. Also rather sad to see El Reg going way beyond the usual misleading clickbait headlines and into the realm of deliberate lying.

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Encryption, wiretaps and the Feds: THE TRUTH

Cuddles
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Re: Logic?

"If encrypted communication is used by criminals and terrorists in performing their evil deeds, then surely they should be spending more time spying on people who use encryption."

Sure, but that doesn't contradict anything the article said. Not bothering to intercept encrypted communications because you won't be able to do anything with them doesn't mean you give up and ignore a person of interest entirely, it simply means that you focus your efforts in areas that have potential to actually get results.

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Google off the hook for feeding kids bad cookies

Cuddles
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Re: Monetising kids?

"Their behaviour is sickening, and the failure of the law to recognise this is just as bad."

Why, because no-one else has ever made money from children before? There are entire industries dedicated solely to making money off children - toys, games, sweets, various food and drink, TV, films, and so on. And all of them rely very heavily on advertising in places that children will see in ways that will appeal to them. Not only are Google far from the worst offender in this respect, they're not even doing it deliberately - they just treat any visitor the same way and try to match adverts with what they've previously shown an interest in. If this is such sickening behaviour, there are a hell of a lot of other companies you should be demonising before Google even merits a mention.

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You can be my wingman any time! RaspBerry Pi AI waxes Air Force top gun's tail in dogfights

Cuddles
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Re: "forces to be deployed without human loss of life"

"While that is generally a good thing, if it makes politicians more trigger-happy it is probable not."

This is a sentiment I see a lot, but it doesn't really make a lot of sense given an awareness of history and human nature in general. Numerous weapons have been touted as bringing about an end to warfare because, the machinegun being a particularly well known example, but every time they've been immediately deployed as enthusiastically as ever. The only thing that comes close to being an exception is nuclear weapons, but even those were used a couple of times and there remains a very realistic possibility that they will be again in the future. Importantly, when it comes to politicians being trigger happy, even the existence of nuclear-armed superpowers able to wipe out all human civilisation at the push of a button wasn't enough to stop them repeatedly going to war both with each other and anyone else they could find lying around the place.

If knowing more people will die doesn't make politicians less likely to go to war, how likely is it that the reverse will happen if they think less people will die. Since the end of WW2, the USA has started a new war (or military intervention of some sort) an average of every 3 years. How much more eager to start wars could better planes make them?

On which note, it's important to bear in mind that this is only about fighter planes anyway. The vast majority of combat losses are not fighter pilots, or indeed aircraft crew of any sort. Many ground support roles are already done by drones, but even replacing all pilots with AI wouldn't make any difference to the losses that would occur once boots are on the ground. And given the degree of air superiority the US, and the West in general, currently enjoys in all the wars they get involved in, having slightly better planes wouldn't make any significant difference at all. The only opponents this would make any real difference against would be Russia and China, and fighter pilot losses are hardly the important factor that will tip politicians into wanting to start those ones.

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Magnetic, heat scanners to catch Tour de France electric motor cheats

Cuddles
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Re: I would watch The Tour Doped France

"Why not have a special event for all the cheaters?"

It's called the Tour de France.

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Cloudian clobbers car drivers with targeted ads

Cuddles
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Personalised to who?

Have these guys ever actually looked at the traffic around Tokyo? Which of the hundreds of cars passing at any given time are they going to personalise adverts for?

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Virgin Media goes TITSUP* in South London due to painful piles

Cuddles
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Re: You may want to aim a bit higher than the CEO, if you want it stopped.

"Sir R.C.N. Branson,"

Not much point in that, Virgin Media has nothing to do with Branson and Virgin Group. If you want to aim at the top, you want Michael Fries of Liberty Global.

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Just a quarter of Brits trust businesses with our personal data

Cuddles
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Actions vs. words

53%, 36% and 22% of people trust various different types of organisation with their personal details. 99.9% of people hand over those details anyway, in many cases without there actually being any need to do so.

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Astroboffins' discovery gives search for early life a left hand. Or right

Cuddles
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Re: I know, obvious is not scientific proof,

"Typically dominate? But by what amount? I have a problem with people saying its a mystery why all life is made of left handed amino acids. Its not - if the first replicating molecule was left handed then everything that follows will be left handed. Its 50-50 so not 'astronomical' at all."

No, it's not 50-50. That would only be the case if left and right chirality were equally common, which is exactly what "left-handed forms typically dominate" says isn't the case. And it's not simply down to what "the first" self-replicating molecule was like, because there's no reason to assume there was just one. All life (that we know of) descends from a common ancestor, but that simply means that only one primordial replicator was successful enough to have ancestors survive to today. There could have been numerous originating events, with most families dying out some time between then and now (although realistically they must have died out before the fossil record becomes reliable). Availability of resources is a major factor in how successful life is, so it's not just a simple probability of what the first self-replicator is like, but also how much of the "food" in the environment it's able to use. Even if a right-handed self-replicator happens to occur, if the majority of molecules around it are left-handed and therefore useless to it it has a much lower ability to survive and replicate.

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Crysis creeps: Our ransomware locks network drives and PCs. Bargain

Cuddles
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"seemingly innocent installers"

Exactly how innocent can a random installer in an unsolicited email look?

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Dyfed-Powys Police fined for publicising pervs' particulars

Cuddles
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"could identify"

"names and addresses of eight registered offenders, along with the phone numbers and email addresses"

I can't help feeling that goes a little beyond "could". Short of mailing out copies of their birth certificates it would be difficult to be much more explicit in identifying them.

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England just not windy enough for wind farms, admits renewables boss

Cuddles
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Renewable != solar+wind

Why is it almost all claims about what renewables can and can't do seem to consider wind turbines and photovoltaics as the only options? Sure, solar panels and onshore wind turbines in England are never going to meet our power needs. Offshore wind and onshore in parts of Wales and Scotland are pretty handy, however. Tidal has been mentioned already, and while it's less developed we're an island nation with some of the largest tides in the world so there's a hell of a lot of power there if we actually make an effort. Wave power, which is not at all the same as tidal despite the two often being mixed up, also has plenty of potential. Most of the obvious targets for hydroelectric have already been used, but some of the smaller schemes aren't completely stupid (unfortunately many of them are). Solar thermal, geothermal (ground source heat pumps rather than electric in this country), biomass, and various others also exist. And of course nuclear, which is not renewable but has such abundant fuel that it might as well be. No single power source is ever going to meet all our needs on its own, but any discussion that ignores almost all of them is a complete waste of time.

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Wi-Fi hack disables Mitsubishi Outlander's theft alarm – white hats

Cuddles
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The title is too long

"This means that drivers can only communicate with the car from within Wi-Fi range, a huge disadvantage."

The exact opposite actually. There's absolutely no reason you could ever need to fuck around with your car from the other side of the country, while having a short range connection means that no-one else can fuck around with it from there either. In addition, it doesn't matter what distance from your car you might be if you don't have a phone signal, while pretty much the only reason wi-fi could fail is if your batter dies, which would obviously affect GSM just as much.

"Once unlocked, there is potential for many more attacks against the car."

No shit. Having full physical access to a car allows you to do stuff to it. There don't need to be any computers or wi-fi shenanigans involved for that to be the case.

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US nuke arsenal runs on 1970s IBM 'puter waving 8-inch floppies

Cuddles
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Does it work?

If so, what exactly is the problem? People might be desperate to upgrade their phone or whatever every few months, but it's not generally necessary to replace perfectly functional equipment just because it's over some arbitrary age.

Of course, given that we're talking about firing nuclear weapons, some might argue we'd actually be better off if it doesn't work, especially if no-one else knows that it's broken so the deterrent effect is still there.

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Judge torpedoes 'Tor pedo' torpedo evidence

Cuddles
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What's the point in keeping it secret?

Presumably the logic is that if they reveal the exploits used, they won't be able to use it again in the future to find more criminals. But they already know from this case that any evidence gathered using the same method will be useless, so why would that matter? Either they have a known exploit that might be patched in the future, or an unknown exploit that they can never actually use. Are they just hoping that another court will rule differently in the future?

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Marketing by opt-in, opt-out, consent or legitimate interest?

Cuddles
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Complete nonsense

While I agree with the conclusion, the reasoning and "maths" (scare quotes definitely needed) used to get there are laughably wrong here. To start with, the use of "=" is completely wrong. You cannot equate a set with a variable, and you cannot equate an action with the result of that action. What the blog actually meant to use is "if, then" or "->". ie. "If a, then b", or "a -> b" often stated as "a implies b".

This is not just nitpicking terms, it's fundamental to the whole argument. By saying a=b, b=c and therefore b=c you are claiming that all three are the same thing. But b is trivially not the same thing at all, and there's absolutely nothing suggesting c must be the same as either a or b. The correct statements are:

a -> b

c -> b

Note that there is no connection between the two. The article argues that the former is true, but doesn't even attempt to say anything about the latter. It claims that c must be the same as a because it leads to the same outcome, but provides no argument or evidence to actually support that. If b is "I have a book on my desk", a is "I put it there" and c is "A carrier pigeon was released from a small town in Belgium and dropped the book on my desk" then both a -> b and c -> b are true, but clearly a and c are not at all the same.

Basically, the article treats a=b=c as the conclusion reached at the end of the line of reasoning, when in fact it is nothing more than their initial hypothesis. It's just a big mess of circular reasoning that starts by claiming a=b=c and justifies it by repeating the same statement several more times.

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HP Inc-eption: Our new 3D printers print themselves, says CEO

Cuddles
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Manufacturing device able to manufacture things!

In other news, you can use an axe to cut a handle for an axe, and a hammer to shape the head of a hammer. How the is "thing that prints plastic is able to print plastic" supposed to be news?

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Password reuse bot steals creds from weak sites, logs in to banks

Cuddles
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Re: If you use Online Banking you get what you deserve

"I'm just wondering what frigging bank needs only a username and password?!"

Santander and Co-op, to name the two that I know of. Santander actually needs two passwords (a 5 digit PIN and an actual password), but I really hope they don't think that's what two factor authentication means. Co-op needs password and the answer to one of 5 or so "secret" questions. They also both give you a username rather than allowing you to choose one (Santander is a string of numbers, Co-op users your account details). So it's not quite as bad as it sounds since although they both just have username/password combinations with no two factor security, neither should be vulnerable to credentials scraped from other sites.

Edit: Also worth noting that both do use two factor authentication for setting up new transactions, so even if someone manages to get in and see my accounts, the worst they'd be able to do would be give money to someone I've paid before, they wouldn't be able to steal it for themselves.

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Google slaps Siri with Assistant and Amazon with Home device

Cuddles
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Re: 20%

"If it is more than a short drive, pulling over to answer a text or an email must also be a drag."

Why would you need to pull over? If it's urgent, they wouldn't have sent a text or email. If you're doing a long drive you'll be stopping at least every couple of hours or so for a rest or toilet break anyway, so why is it such a big problem to just wait?

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Google asks the public to name the forthcoming Android N operating system

Cuddles
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Fracas?

OK, I've seen the Boaty McBoatface incident described variously as a fracas, row, and various other terms implying there was a big argument and fuss about it, but I'm just not seeing it. The whole conversation went basically:

NERC: We'd like people to think of names for our ship.

People: Boaty McBoatface is a funny name.

NERC: Yeah, we're not calling it that.

People: OK, how about Attenborough?

NERC: Done.

People: Hooray!

No-one ever thought it would actually be called boaty, and no-one complained when it wasn't. They were even sensible enough to make it clear from the start that the poll wasn't in any way binding so there couldn't be grounds for complaint. All that happened was a few people had a bit of fun voting for a silly name and everyone ended up happy with the result at the end (or just didn't care in the first place). It's only now that the media keeps trying to insist there was some big argument about the whole thing, when for once the internet was actually nice and restrained and allowed a little joke to run its course without making a big fuss over it.

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Now Suzuki admits cheating

Cuddles
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"The company joins Mitsubishi and Volkswagen in admitting it did not meet emissions targets"

According to the BBC reports, that's not actually true. Suzuki has admitted that it's tests didn't correctly follow the official guidelines, but has also said that retests which did follow those guidelines still met emissions targets. Not doing the tests properly the first time is obviously a problem, but it's not the same as saying their cars actually failed the proper tests.

It's also worth noting that where all the others have had issues with the cars changing behaviour during testing, Suzuki appears to be saying that it was the testing itself that was the issue, not anything to do with the cars.

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Art heist 'pranksters' sent down for six months

Cuddles
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"without knowing if they had previous criminal records or a history of public nuisance, it seems a little imbalanced to me to bang them up"

Fortunately we don't need to worry about not knowing these things, since the article clearly states that they do, in fact, have previous criminal records, and causing a public nuisance is the only reason for their group to exist.

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Symantec antivirus bug allows utter exploitation of memory

Cuddles
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"about as bad as it can possibly get"

Isn't that Symantec's company motto?

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Inside Electric Mountain: Britain's biggest rechargeable battery

Cuddles
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Re: Viewing habits

"I don't think it has changed much...

What you've listed has given people more control over what to watch, not when to watch it."

But the point is that when everyone's watching isn't important, it's when they stop watching and turn the kettle on. Streaming services might not change the time people have available to watch TV, but they do mean that people are free to pause and make a cuppa or go to the toilet at any time they like rather than having the entire country perfectly synchronised by advert breaks. It's the spike that is important here, not the total usage, and the more popular streaming gets the less of a spike there's likely to be.

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Banning computers makes students do better on exams – MIT

Cuddles
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Unsurprising

People with access to games, the internet, and so on will fuck about with distractions rather than paying attention to their work. The results would no doubt be different for a course which actually required computers, but "people provided with distractions can become distracted" is not some stunning new revelation.

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Imation's losses deepen 500%. CEO says things are 'successful'

Cuddles
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Not percentages

"A year ago the net loss was $14.4m, now it’s $91.1m, a 532.6 per cent worsening."

If their net loss had started at $0, it would be infinity percent worsening, and if they had actually made a profit (which they did at one point shown on that chart) it would go right through infinity and come out the other side. Using percentages in this situation really doesn't make a lot of sense; it's fine for revenue but profits can change sign and have discontinuities if you try using them as a ratio.

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Unicorn adopts rainbow as logo

Cuddles
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Re: Well to be honest, it was dealing with photographs

"I guess printing letter heads isn't the biggest issue for an digital company in 2016 either."

Just because your product is digital doesn't mean you don't still have a ton of paperwork going on behind the scenes, especially considering that most "paperless" offices end up using significant more paper than they did before.

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Dwarf planet intumesces before astronomers' gaze

Cuddles
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1920x990

So Haumea is the only one in widescreen?

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Laser-zapping scientists will save the Earth from meteorite destruction

Cuddles
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Re: Momentum

You don't need momentum transfer from an external source. Laser ablation propulsion works by vaporising a small amount of surface material, with the vaporised material going one way and the object going the other. This is one of the most realistic proposals for clearing junk out of orbit, and has been proposed as a way of propelling spacecraft without needing them to actually carry a power source - you just have a lump of metal facing Earth that you can fire a laser at. The important part when it comes to asteroids is knowing what actually happens when you fire a laser at it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_propulsion#Ablative_laser_propulsion

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Cuddles
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"What happened to the plan to spray paint them?"

The main problem with painting asteroids, and with similar schemes involving covering them in foil or similar, is that it requires actually carrying stuff to the asteroid. And by far the biggest problem with space travel in general is that stuff is heavy and expensive to carry anywhere. A ground-based laser, or ever an orbital one, would likely be much cheaper - you can build a pretty decent laser for the hundred million or so it would cost for just a single launch with maybe a few tons of paint. Plus, a laser is reusable, and could be used for things like de-orbiting debris when not shooting asteroids.

The biggest problem is, as usual, likely to be political. Giant space lasers are always going to have people suspicious of them, while a big bucket of paint probably won't.

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Facebook debuts WhatsApp desktop apps as Slack adds SSO

Cuddles
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Back to the '90s!

So now not only can we send messages using our phones, but we can send them from our PCs as well? I still don't understand why WhatsApp exists at all, given that it doesn't do anything that hasn't existed for 20-odd years. Or anything that Facebook didn't already do for that matter.

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'Apple ate my music!' Streaming jukebox wipes 122GB – including muso's original tracks

Cuddles
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Why I never use sync

This isn't a problem with iTunes, it's a problem with using "sync" functions at all. If I copy and paste files from one device to another, I know exactly what has been moved and where it's been moved to, as well as what might have happened to existing files with the same names and any other conflicts that might arise. If I use sync, all I know is that some things that were in one place might now be in another one. But I don't know what has actually been copied (all files, all new files, all files that don't already exist in the new location, etc.), where it actually is, or what might happen in various conflicts and edge cases. Worse, even if documentation is available, the software could be changed and start behaving differently at any time. A sync function could do exactly what you want for years, then suddenly delete all your local files one day because someone has decided that's how it should work instead.

The part I really don't understand is why anyone bothers in the first place. Syncing doesn't add any convenience. If I want to backup my phone, it's quicker and easier to just copy and paste all the files than it is to load up some badly written interface software, wait for it to actually find my phone and figure out what to do with it, and then carry out so unknown sync function that may or may not do what I expect but ultimately just boils down to copying and pasting anyway. If there was added convenience I would understand why it seems to be popular, but it seems people are happy to enjoy the added risk and uncertainty in exchange for also being less convenient. Weird.

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Skygazers: Brace yourselves for a kick in the Aquarids

Cuddles
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"stand outside in the cold looking up at the sky (causing myself massive neck pain in the process)"

The trick to sky gazing is having a decent airbed or deckchair.

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What's Zuck planning with his Facebook bots? Maximum $ilo revenue

Cuddles
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"22 per cent of the world’s population"

Or, more accurately and somewhat ironically given the topic, around 5-10% of the world's population plus a shitload of bots and spammers.

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