37 posts • joined Monday 16th April 2012 03:12 GMT
Re: Taking a byte at history
You're right - the BBC Micro was one of the machines officially approved for use in UK schools. Research Machines 380Z was another, as I recall, although it cost ten times as much as the BBC Micro (which meant schools that opted for RM's offering could really only afford to buy one machine per school. Ouch).
I also recall the tussle for the Beeb's Literacy contract - Pope Clive felt that he could capitalize on the ZX80/81 but didn't manage to beat Acorn who already had a successor to their Atom in the works (the Proton) which was swiftly repurposed. The BBC Micros eventually evolved into the Archimedes.
Ah, nostalgia. It's a pain in the ..er.. nost.
Re: Phages in Russia
Yep - Russia's been using phage therapy since the 1950s. It's slowly making inroads in the UK and US after the FDA stopped pouting over "experimental" treatments.
New Scientist reported on one such therapy several years ago in which an infectious bacterium was eradicated from sheep in 20 minutes (contrast that with antibiotics that take days to even begin to have an effect).
Re: Notification lamp
Didn't we already go down this path in the early 90s? Whatever happened to Private Eye, and the MIT thing that scan low-power microlasers across your retina (which sounds horrendous), and a bunch of other products that supposedly heralded freedom from a monitor?
Ah, them were the days...
A nice trip down Memory (hah) Lane for me, too.
In 1978-80 I was transitioning from programmable calculators (PCW published my AI-like Noughts & Crosses program for the Casio fx502p) into computers and after a false start I ended up with the TI-99/4 (the chicklet keyboard precursor to the 4A, that in the UK came with a modified Skantic TV as a monitor) after selling my soul financially...
I remember the UK101, the Rockwell AIM65, and the excitement that "hobby" computing generated in the UK - it was a real compute-by-the-seat-of-your-pants time. All those ingenious tricks to reduce the size of programs - like LET A = SGN(PI) instead of LET A = 1 for the Sinclair - and the mean trick of turning a QL upside down to see if all the key caps fell off...
I ran a TI-99 group back then, and friends I made through using the TI in the early 1980s I still correspond with today. I got into a bunch of things including investigative journalism (even wrote a book on the TI) and eventually moved from working in an NHS research lab into what wasn't even called IT back then.
Almost 35 years later I don't regret one moment. It's been a blast.
But why the Windex...?
I still don't under stand why she's drinking a glass of window cleaner...
I suspect that the BYOD trend will probably be offset eventually by the trend towards putting everything in the Cloud - OS, apps, data - so that YOD becomes little more than a dumb terminal into the system.
Since IT's going to be decimated by the move to the Cloud, the BYOD headaches may be replaced by other, FMAJ* problems.
* Find Me Another Job
Re: First client: SCO
Decades ago I wrote an article in a small circulation newsletter. It presented a short TI BASIC program that contained a series of complex equations embedded in a simple loop that ran from 0 to 9; the output from each pass was PRINTed. If anyone was bothered to key in the program and run it, the result was displayed on the screen: APRIL FOOL. No prizes for guessing the publication month.
That text string did not appear anywhere in the code - it was the result of output from the injection of the integers 0 through 9 into a complex polynomial derived from a solution (one of many possible) by infinite integrals. In other words, the ASCII values were generated in sequence from a complex curve.
I can't say what method Gary Kildall used but I can say that it's entirely possible to cloak text without resorting to encryption (even now I'm working on a similar technology for a novel approach to privacy protection).
Re: "what happened before the big bang"
As I understand it (as a non-expert) dark matter holds structures such as galaxies together while dark energy causes the accelerating expansion of the space-time in between the blobs of dark matter.
In addition, the nature of the "foaming" universe includes pairs of virtual particles that pop in and out of existence and that normally annihilate each other - except when they're sufficiently close to the event horizon of a black hole (naked singularity), at which point one of the pair may be captured and separated from the other sufficiently that the remnant virtual particle becomes real.
This seems to me to suggest that matter is constantly being added to space-time. If this happens outside a blob of dark matter, then there is presumably no real net effect - the new particles will simply move farther away from each other.
However, if it happens inside the blob of dark matter, then although black holes may evaporate over a long period of time (shorter if they're microscopic) there will be a constant supply of fresh matter, potentially capable of forming new solar systems and galaxies (with new black holes) within the increasingly isolated islands of dark matter.
There seems to be evidence for the existence of at least one or more additional dimensions (whether of space or time or both, I'm not sure), allowing the possibility of connections beyond our presently-observable universe, but whether that helps or hinders our ability to predict what is likely to happen, I don't know.
And now I can't remember where I was going with this...:)
Re: Not yet confirmed:
...or the North American boson...
...or the boson of the lifeboat...
Re: "what happened before the big bang"
Black holes evaporate...
Re: Worldwide collider project
Richard Branson might be up for it - not sure about Rupert Murdoch.
Oh, magnets - sorry, I thought you said magnates...
Re: Oh.. alright..
So Einstein only had it half right - it's not dice, it's pool!
PS Bring back Calculator Corner :)
Re: Oh.. alright..
So micro-organisms don't matter...? :)
In another life I was a published author. My book retailed for UKP5.95. My publisher paid me a royalty (after their costs were deducted) on a sliding scale that worked out to about 25p per copy if the bookseller bought from them at that retail price (which meant they would have made a loss on every book, and who's going to do that?) and went downwards rapidly to a pittance - if the publisher sold at a discount to the bookseller, I got even less (i.e., the percentage of my royalty went down the more the book was discounted to the bookseller, which worked out to about 5p per book for the largest discount).
As I see it, even selling an eBook at 99p through Amazon means the author will get far more today - even as a proportion - than I got in 1984, and the market is potentially much larger than it would have been under the old system, so the possibility of earning a decent living as an author is better now than it was thirty years ago.
This doesn't mean authors are guaranteed riches, obviously. A crappily-written eBook is just as useless as a crappily-written printed book, after all...
Re: why is Apple involved
Which was exactly their policy in the UK with regard to their machines back in the late 80s/early 90s, and why the "grey" market arose (because they forced UK dealers to sell Macs at an inflated price - wouldn't even let UK dealers see what prices they gave US dealers - and it became cost-effective for certain dealers in the UK to buy from some US dealers and fly the units over, undercut Apple's price in the UK and STILL make a profit).
It's ironic that Apple chose "leopard" as a product nickname, IMHO. Spots, changing, and all that...
Re: 50 million has to be a wild underestimate.
Kenny Everett would have been proud: Cupid Stunt has at least 20 entries (at least one of which is a bit more creative with some umlauts).
Hugh Jarss likewise. A few B'Stard entries are for the TV character, the rest are presumably fake. There was one C Leigh Farquhar but she may actually be genuine. A score of Gordon Zolas, a dozen I P Knightlys, and on and on. Half a dozen Nora Titsoff. And those are just the English variety - I'm sure there are other language variants. (Mustafa Fag might not be one of them).
My guess? Much, much more than 10% are either fake or duplicates of existing accounts. The figure might even approach 80%...
Didn't Stuxnet Backfire?
I'm still looking for the reference, but I recall reading a few months ago that once the Iranians understood the nature and intent of Stuxnet, they redoubled their efforts, spent even more money on even more centrifuges, and achieved their uranium enrichment goals well ahead of time.
So Stuxnet actually expedited matters rather than slowing them down. Oops.
On my XP box the respective .log files fail to appear, and looking at the verbose report it may be because there's an apparent failure to clean up after the install (the files used for installation no longer exist when they come to be deleted), so it may just be a timing issue.
Absolutely! Isn't graphene supposed to be the new inheritor of the silicon mantle? Or carbon nanotubes? Or GaN? Or organic nanowires? Or any one of a number of other candidates, some of which are completely organic? Or memristors? Or...?
Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?
...but with regard to the computer just being another home appliance, I just can't forgive peoples stupidity that easily.
I don't know - computers are often sold by the same box shifters that push out microwaves and dishwashers, so why wouldn't a user regard a PC as being in the same class? They don't come with a government warning stamped on them...
Re: Is it "Private Info" when some dingbat has broadcast it over an unencrypted wireless link, then?
Agree 100%. Back in the 1990s when I was coming to grips with networking I was amazed when I installed a software firewall on my elderly system, connected to my ISP and discovered that someone was pinging my machine hundreds of times a minute, probing for an open port.
I've noticed that the IT community (of which I am a member) tends to assume knowledge on the part of dumb (their term) users when it has absolutely no right to do so; maybe if we stopped making those assumptions, some of the more annoying problems would fade away.
IT isn't the only group (or even the first) to assume that users know as much as engineers do, though - for decades, garage mechanics have tended to do the same thing when I've taken my ailing motorcycle in for repairs...
Re: Classic technologist's privacy error
As I recall, wasn't the question asked of the engineer "Are these URLs that you extracted from the data streams of open wi-fi spots?"
That seems to imply lots of active behavior and very little passive...
It did occur to me that the collation of open wi-fi spots would enable another feature if a driver was using Google maps at the time, and that is to feed back real time data about traffic density so that suggested re-routing could occur. It's likely to come anyway (not necessarily through Google maps, obviously), but maybe Google were trying to get a step ahead?
Re: Harm - Expectation of privacy
I think the telling aspect is the technology required. Most of the analogies here have talked about seeing or hearing things, and those are activities we do all the time with the equipment (ears, eyes) that we have (or most of us do, and most of us have working versions).
If I'm walking down the street, I'm not going to be able to hear wi-fi; my ears aren't up to it. If I'm sat in my car writing up some notes on my laptop, unless my computer has some kind of wi-fi-compatible card and is configured to constantly look for hotspots and try to connect to them, I'm going to be blissfully unaware of any wi-fi transmissions.
But if I run software or use hardware that's explicitly seeking wi-fi signals, then I've crossed a line from being an accidental recipient of a transmission to being an active seeker, and that's where I think Google broke laws everywhere.
Re: They operated within the law...
... let me make one thing very clear here: I also think that in the end the owners of said open wifi points are also to blame...
This makes the unfair assumption that the wi-fi owner should have known that they were broadcasting publicly, and then holding them partially accountable.
But we all end up broadcasting information publicly no matter how hard we may try to clamp down on it. Web browsers are notorious for doing this - if we visit a website and the site takes details of the last ten sites we visited beforehand, along with our OS version, our allocated IP address and any personal identifiers, is that over-reaching by the site or lax supidity on our part?
It's a major task to try and stay on top of what's broadcast by our technologies, especially when no-one is accountable to us as users. No-one says to us: "We're thinking of issuing products with this insanely great technology called Bluetooth, and we're thinking it's too much effort to encrypt the transmissions - is that OK with you?" And even if they did, how many of us would know exactly how to answer? Insiders know immediately what the answer would be...
IMHO, at the end of the day ethics is the big problem. Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD.
The sad thing is that Apple and Microsoft are not exceptions. Every multi-billion dollar corporation I've worked for in the last 16 years has posted so-called mission statements or principles of practice prominently in the workplace, and deliberately and calculatedly violated every single one of them every single day.
An example: "We do not expect you to work more than eight hours in one day". One of my former colleagues went on vacation to Mexico with his family. His supervisor insisted that he take a laptop with him, specifically configured by IT to have a VPN, and every day of his holiday he was expected to phone in and do at least two hours of work. This was not an isolated incident. It happened in all departments at all levels and was considered "normal", despite the public profession to the contrary.
Not a good analogy. Everyone has eyes (most of them working) but not everyone has the equipment and knowledge to pick up a wi-fi signal, so it's an active not passive process. There's a HUGE difference.
Re: Single rogue element....
"Overhearing" implies a passive action - you just happened to be passing by and you "overheard" a conversation. This is true of human hearing. It's unavoidable unless you stick your fingers in your ears.
But in this case, "overhearing" is an active process akin to eavesdropping - you're using a piece of equipment and actively searching out signals. The idea that it's accidental is about as valid as the idea that if you leave your doors unlocked, anyone who walks into your home has done so because you "invited" them to by not locking your doors.
Too often now we hear the same mantra: no-one should expect privacy. It seems we also shouldn't expect integrity, honesty and accountability.
Re: I haven't heard any comment from any teachers
I don't know that I'd agree that you can't do much with a little knowledge of programming - especially if you've been taught the basics of Office software (and/or others).
If you've played with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OutLook, etc., you must know about the IDE that comes with all of those applications (and their open source counterparts) and how you can program any of them to do all sorts of things.
One of my contracts (as a Technical Writer in a regulated environment in the US) involved writing VB code such that any MS Word document based on my templates was capable of checking itself on being opened to make sure it contained certain minimally-required features and flagging any identified problems as well as creating a user-specific log file of those issues.
I devised the algorithms necessary to undertake a variety of tasks (some of them with fuzzy logic) and coded, tested, debugged, implemented and documented everything. Great fun to do and immensely satisfying.
Re: "mathematics is just another language"
Hmmm. Art and Design benefit from an understanding of mathematics - as does Music (the two are intertwined so closely - is that why you didn't include it in your list?). If you look below the surface, you'll find maths in just about every single specialty, one way or another.
Re: What's with the shunting around? HR made you do it?
I once worked for a company where one of my responsibilities was to make sure that in any outgoing electronic communication nothing was routed using To: but only Bcc: so that recipients (tens of thousands of merchants) would not see each other's identities (this was at the request of the Board of Directors who'd had complaints in the past from those same merchants).
A senior manager told me one day that "sometimes he needed pencils and sometimes he needed people" - this was his budget management philosophy. It struck me as somewhat Hubbardesque - LRon's "management tech" defines employees as "terminals" and whatever they produce or exchange as "particles", as good a way of dehumanising the workplace as any.
A week later the senior manager circulated an email praising my contribution to the team. A week after that, I was laid off due to budget considerations; my immediate boss and the director of HR were obviously embarrassed and uncomfortable during the exit interview.
A week after that, someone in Level 2 Support, who had been given my responsibilities, sent out an email to thousands of merchants using the To: line, and stirred up a stitshorm; he was let go immediately. At least I felt a little vindicated.
Re: And the beauty of capitalism is ......
Actually, capitalism had nothing to do with it - the Internet arose because of the needs of academics, building on work done by the military. Capitalism just made the whole thing virtually worthless.