2571 posts • joined Friday 28th April 2006 12:50 GMT
Re: Telly Tax
The UK TV licence fee is charged per address, not per set. You can have as many TV receivers as you like, each one tuned to a different advertisement-free channel, for less than 50 pence per day.
The BBC is the only broadcaster in the world which is in the business of selling programmes to viewers. Every other broadcasting company is in the business of selling audiences to advertisers. And I, for one, consider that something worth celebrating.
Re: Magic Smoke
I've also paid my dues in electronics R&D, and learned how to identify a failed component by odour.
If you have ever worked on old record players or television sets, you may well have been unlucky enough to have encountered a failing selenium rectifier. You never forget what one of those smells like .....
Re: Crystal ball or Tarot cards?
Not to mention that eventually, and pretty much by definition, renewables will be all that is left.
Now for the Real Challenge
The problems of shape recognition are pretty much isomorphic with the problems of decompilation (this vertex belongs to that object; this instruction belongs to that loop).
It's now only a matter of time until someone develops a program that can take any binary executable as its input, and spit out some Source Code which will compile to the same binary. Admittedly it may not have sensible function or variable names, depending what gets left behind or not by the original compiler, but it still makes the job simpler for a human being.
Re: Old Manuals
Could be that language compilers are not so readily available, or are not so cheap these days.I do not think so. The reference implementation of the C compiler costs £0 including full Source Code.
What else were you expecting?
If you made your business dependent upon somebody else's proprietary technology, then you are entirely at their mercy. Microsoft own Skype, and now they have the entire Skype userbase over a barrel. (They always did, really; except it used to be a much bigger barrel, so the curvature was non-obvious.)
I always said, Skype was the diametric opposite of what telecommunications should be. It was a closed protocol, it featured obfuscation layers to prevent reverse-engineering at a cost to performance, they evidently didn't want for it to be compatible with anything else. And that is why I swore I would never touch it. Because if your phone can only talk to other phones of the same kind, it's no good as a phone. That's why we had national standards for the early private telephone companies, so that subscribers would never be tied to a particular network but could call subscribers with other telephone companies. That's why we have GSM, the Global Standard for Mobile telephony; so that any handset made by any manufacturer can connect to any country's phone network. Analogue phone exchanges on the PSTN are still compatible with basically any instrument that has an induction coil and a dial. My Asterisk server at home patches into the one at work; it's connected to an eclectic selection of phones including a GPO 746, a DTMF-only ex-switchboard phone, a Zultys ZIP4x4 SIP phone, a three-handset cordless phone system via a Grandstream HandyTone 286 and -- within wi-fi range -- SipDroid on my mobile. Oh, and the analogue card that connects to the analogue phones supports a cool feature that the PSTN does not: You can use pulse dialling to select from menus!
Someone really needs to get a SIP / IAX phone client out there that's easy to install and use. It's not for want of information. These are true open protocols, thoroughly documented; and the reference implementations are themselves Open Source.
Re: Why can's the likes of The Guardian ...
Possibly because North Korea have no secrets of any relevance, and Al Qaeda is basically a bunch of thirtysomething overgrown schoolboys in their mothers' basements, discussing how to make pipe bombs. Any real threats they might pose (a new type of radio valve that does not require a heated cathode? a few minor cuts and burns, mostly to the hapless backyard chemists?) are massively overstated by governments, as justification for their excesses.
This is just Crypto 101
Isn't this the principle on which crypto software is designed -- keep the minimum amount of information actually secret? Secure crypto software can have the Source Code and encrypting keys published, because the only secret is the naked decrypting key -- it's even safe to send out documents encrypted using it; and if the matching encrypting key (which is known to everyone) decrypts a document, you can be sure that it was sent by someone who has that key. Which, if it's the only thing that need be kept secret, is easier to keep secret than a whole bunch of other stuff. (Even sent messages cease to be secret, once the event referred to has already happened.)
So, keeping the minimum possible amount secret -- and that must include not collecting data unnecessarily in the first place -- seems to be a reasonable principle to apply.
Well, it was all a long time ago; I was younger, more impetuous, had less to lose, and there was no RIPA. And nothing ever happened anyway; there was no heroic last stand, with me plunging from a bridge clutching the laptop with the only copy of the data or anything like that .....
But I still admire the spirit shown by people like Caroline Lucas MP, who is quite prepared to risk the consequences of standing up for her own convictions. And I think we need more people like that, instead of spinelessly kowtowing to the authorities' demands.
The world needs more people prepared to choose what is right over what petty control freaks demand.
Your chainsaw example is a bad one. All it shows is the effect of greed on top of more greed.
Genuine STIHL chainsaws can be sold for a higher price than functionally-equivalent chainsaws, just because STIHL is a big brand. And they got to be a big brand mostly because their gear is so expensive. But at the end of the day, a chainsaw is just a commodity part. It has an engine, it cuts wood, it can be manipulated by one person and it has various precautions in place to ensure that it only cuts what it's supposed to be cutting.
But STIHL are greedy, and know that their name on a chainsaw will add to its perceived value. So they can sell chainsaws that are functionally no different from the chainsaws other manufacturers are selling, for a higher price.
The Chinese are not stupid. They know that a fake chainsaw that skimps on the safety features is cheaper to make than a real chainsaw with a proper brake, tungsten carbide blade tips that stay put and an engine that doesn't cut out in mid-cut. And it will still work well enough four times out of five -- just don't try anything too extreme. They also know that by putting the STIHL name on it, they can sell it for even more money. This is only so because STIHL are greedy and charge more for their product than their competitors.
And when the example they set is one of greed, who can blame anyone else for following it?
DRM is fundamentally broken
The thing about DRM is, it doesn't work and cannot ever be made to work. Because the limitations that prevent it from working are not limitations of present technology that can be overcome by inventing the right thing, but limitations of the universe that cannot be overcome by any invention. Actual, working DRM would require a proposition to be both true and false at the same time.
There must necessarily be a way to decrypt and view the encrypted content; and there is no way for the decryption system to be sure that the content being viewed is not being re-recorded. And as soon as there is even just one copy in the universe which does not suffer from DRM, then an infinite number of copies can be made.
What is really needed is a new economic theory which does not depend on scarcity.
Double-clicking is an abomination. It was only invented in the first place because someone had an aversion to mice with more than one button.
I set KDE up so hovering the mouse cursor over an icon selects it, and single-clicking activates it -- and merely positioning the mouse pointer over a text entry area gives it focus.
(And yes, I do spend a lot of time staring stupidly at the screen waiting for things to happen, on the occasions when I am forced to use Windows. That and typing text in the wrong place.)
SMSs are NOT UTF-8!
SMS messages are usually sent in GSM-7 aka SMSCII, a modified form of ASCII with some code points moved around, and some characters represented by 2-byte sequences; which also includes some accented characters and enough of the Greek alphabet to be able to write in capitals in Greek, making up the remainder with Latin characters that look like Greek characters. This way, 160 7-bit characters can fit into 140 8-bit bytes. And you get to use the << and >> operators.
Alternatively they can be sent in UCS-2, which is as near enough to UTF-16 as makes no difference; but then the message is limited to 70 characters.
There is no UTF-8 mode, though .....
I wouldn't mind one
If it has HDMI out, for compatibility with any future one-metre TV I may acquire, I wouldn't mind one.
Then at least I can keep my PC ideologically pure. And play games on a self-contained machine that's just for playing games on.
Re: Is there any anti-theft merit to this?
The main reason why people steal mobile phones is not so that they have a mobile phone, but so that the victim doesn't have one. It doesn't matter whether or not the stolen mobile is any use to the thief or anyone. The aim was always to deprive, not to acquire.
World full of nails!
..... says hammer salesperson.
What about the frequent core dumps, though?
Don't gloat too hard
Don't be too quick to gloat about Adobe losing money.
It's their Digital Restrictions Management which powers most e-readers -- and which conceivably could stop working altogether, if Adobe go out of business.
Can you imagine what would happen if everyone turned on their Kindle, Kobo, Nook or similar one day, and found pretty much their entire library gone?
Re: Nice idea, but...
Imagine you are a harassed member of staff in a popular tourist resort on the Côte d'Azur. Now here come two British tourists. One of them has a French dictionary and is attempting to speak a little faltering French. The other is simply speaking English slowly and loudly, as though talking to an imbecile. To whom are you going to be more polite and helpful -- the one who is making an effort, or the one with the sense of entitlement so huge he's lucky to get his head through the door?
Well, when you first join in the Linux adventure, you are in the position of a Brit Abroad. And if you want to be treated like a grown-up, first you have to act like one. Which means: If you want help, you have to earn it.
See also here:
Re: Nice idea, but...
Ubuntu is designed to run on modern hardware.
Linux is just the engine; a distribution (such as Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Mandriva or Puppy) is a complete car. If you have passengers with particular requirements, a general-purpose car aimed at the mainstream might not be exactly ideal for them.
Megapixels are not everything
Megapixels are not everything! Years ago, I had a FujiFilm 2800Z with a maximum resolution of 1600 x 1200 pixels (1.92 MPx). It wiped the floor with most 4MPx cameras of the time, thanks to its lens and a decent-sized sensor. A4 prints were no problem for it. If I didn't tell anyone it was only packing a measly 2 megapixels, they would have guessed it was more.
A lens with aberrations won't project a decent image onto the sensor in the first place; and the physical size of the sensor determines the initial amount of charge which it can store, which in turn determines the amount of light it can accept before saturating. That then sets the maximum contrast between highlight and shadow, and in turn the noise floor (you want the amount of electrons displaced by light to exceed vastly the number displaced by random movement).
I personally think sensor mm² would be a much more meaningful measure than pixels (although nobody seems to publish it; wonder why not?) And if anyone was making a phone with FujiFilm optics, I'd seriously consider buying it just on the strength of that.
Re: Hear hear
What's an ignoramius?
If "ignoramus" was a noun of the declension you think, the plural would be "ignorami" (one I). But it isn't, so the plural iis "ignoramuses".
Public key around symmetric key
Is public-key cryptography still really so much more computationally expensive than symmetric-key as only to be suitable for temporarily encrypting a symmetric key which is then used for the real encrypted exchange?
Because it seems to me that the system as a whole is only as strong as the weaker of the two layers. If you can crack the public-key encryption then you get the symmetric key; but if you can go straight to breaking the final symmetric-key encryption, then you don't need to bother breaking the public-key encryption with which it was protected.
Re: He's right.
Sometimes people need offending.Quoted For Truth.
Re: Pesky paper trails
No, no, no, no, no. How many times do I have to point this out?
The actual vote is A: 500, B: 390, C: 110. The machine says A: 380, B: 500, C: 120. You were always expecting a close race between candidates A and B with C the outsider, so that result is still plausible enough for nobody to question it; and anyway, enough of the voters' receipts will have gone missing to be unable to verify against them.
A few random audits aren't going to be enough. You have to check every single result to be sure. And if you're keeping paper ballots in the polling station, then you might just as well count those and get rid of the machines, because they don't help.
Re: Pesky paper trails
I've explained above why that does not work. You cannot trust the machine to make a correct copy and you cannot trust the machine to verify whether some supposed copy is accurate. All you are ever doing is moving the problem. You never know whether the machine is telling the truth or lying. One of the copies of the data is dispersed among the electorate, and also incomplete as some receipts are bound to get lost or destroyed, accidentally or on purpose. Another copy is in the machine's memory where the only way to access it is via the machine. None of the other copies you may have made count for squat anyway, you can see clearly enough that they are all the same as each other; whether or not those two "end" copies are the same is all that matters. And one is incomplete and the other one is untrustworthy.
Protest all you like but there's no way bolting on additional layers is going to fix this, because it's inherent. The token has been copied and the copy can't be verified, and that is the problem. All you know is, you've got something that matches the original token: The voters' receipts. Well, I suppose you could have the voters get two receipts, and leave one in a box in the polling station, to be counted manually. But if so, what was the freaking point of using the machines in the first place?
Re: Pesky paper trails
All you've done there is move the problem somewhere else. You might have receipt no. 52369 showing a vote for candidate A; all you can be sure of is that the machine recorded a vote for A against 52369 in one of its databases. You don't know that there isn't another database, where 52369 voted for candidate B. Worse, if there is any kind of identifying information on the receipt, and it is anywhere outside the voter's own possession, then it might be possible to link the vote back to the voter. That would compromise the secrecy of the ballot. The whole point, as alluded to above, is that every ballot paper filled the same way must be indistinguible from any other ballot paper filled in the same way. That is the only way the anonymity of the ballot paper can be preserved.
Anyway, even if the voter keeps the receipt and has to take it to the Town Hall to check it, it still doesn't work. Consider this scenario:
Candidate A receives 500 votes, B receives 390 and C receives 110. But the announced result, however, is A 380, B 500, C 120. You voted for A. You go with your receipt to the Town Hall to check how your vote was recorded, and are correctly told you voted for A. And that’s as far as you can take the matter.
Even if all 499 of the other people who voted for A go and check, they’ll be told — rightly — that their vote was for A. And because (1) they all go in one at a time to check their vote, and (2) there are also many B- and C-voters in there, not one single one of the A-voters will be the slightest bit the wiser that there are really 500 of them, as opposed to the 380 that was announced!
Quite true. "I can't believe anybody thinks it's anything like butter" would have been a better name. The taste of actual butter, especially on Panasonic-baked bread toasted under gas, is simply beyond imitation.
The clue should be in the fact that it's made using buttermilk -- which is the stuff you throw away after making butter. It has by definition about as much capacity to impart a butter-like taste as the capacity of apple wood to impart a cider-like taste.
(Hey, maybe that's how they brew S*******w!)
Re: What's the point of Internet banking?
Well, the only way any money ever goes into my bank account (besides me making a deposit through a hole-in-the-wall) is from my employer, and they give me an advice slip for that; and the only way any money ever comes out of it is from me either making a cash withdrawal through a hole-in-the-wall, or sometimes writing a cheque (and I always write the amount on the stub). And anyway, every time I have completed enough transactions to fill a page, the bank send me a statement, which I can check if I want.
Then again, I suppose I'm not most people.
Re: Pesky paper trails
Fundamentally there is nothing wrong with e-voting
Yes there is. Two things, at least:
1. It is not Universally Comprehensible.
2. It relies on token copying, which is inherently broken.
Proper way to do it: You have a token which is unique to you (poll card) which you exchange for a non-unique token (ballot paper) indistinguible from any other of its type. You mark the non-unique token in one of a finite number of ways (casting your vote); it now remains indistinguible from any other token marked up in the same way. The actual, marked-up tokens are counted (ideally, manually, and by the candidates themselves and/or their appointed representatives; since none of them trust each other, the only result they can agree on is the truth).
There is no way to be certain that a machine is actually recording a vote for the candidate it says it is. It can show on the screen a vote for candidate A, it can print out a receipt showing a vote for candidate A; but if it has recorded a vote for candidate B internally, there is no way to know.
What's the point of Internet banking?
Is it just me, or is Internet banking an exercise in futility from start to finish?
There are precisely two reasons why I ever visit a bank branch: To draw out money or -- sometimes, and very rarely -- to pay in money. Neither of these are possible over the Internet. I suppose I could use Internet banking to check my balance -- but the only time I'm really interested in that is immediately before making a withdrawal.
Even when I was paying a mortgage, I never felt the need to check that payments were going through O.K. -- I would only have ended up stressing myself unnecessarily.
First thing Australia needs
The first electoral reform Australia needs is to introduce a proper way to record an abstention.
You are no freer in a society where voting is compulsory, than in a society where there is no voting. And the compulsory vote is wide-open to abuse -- a person who knew what they were doing could get themself elected on the compulsory vote alone.
The beauty of pencil and paper for voting is that everyone can understand them -- and if everyone can understand the paraphernalia used in an election, everyone can potentially be a scrutineer. When you get rid of pencil and paper, you get rid of universal comprehensibility. Even if the plans and the firmware for the machines are published and they are available for inspection whenever not being used in an election, it is still going to be only a minority of the population who can verify that the machines are built to the drawings -- and there is still no way to verify that the machines or software are exactly as you examined.
Re: Most of us didn't use CDs until the 90s either...
Who ever bought pre-recorded cassettes?
Everyone I know listened to tapes made from LPs, which cost the same amount anyway (apart from the extra cost of half a blank C-90). And you still had the LP to make yourself another copy when, not if, the tape got eaten.
Re: iPhone and iPad?
"Brothers in Arms" started the CD-buying revolution in the UK. At one point, there were actually more CDs of it in the UK than there were CD players.
Re: Good on them.
+1 for mentioning the Battle of the Beanfield.
There is no local rate anymore. BT have been billing local and national calls at the same rate for a long time.
Re: Truth or consequences
If I'd behaved like this towards my previous employer I'd expect them to tell any future employer.In a country with decent human rights laws, your former boss would be sent to prison for doing that.
We all have a fundamental right to say and do things our employers (or teachers, &c.) might disapprove of, anytime we are not actually at work (or school / college / university). These people do not own us.
Come the next election, I will be voting for whichever party is promising to introduce a new law (or enforce any law that already exists) guaranteeing proper separation of personal and professional lives. There is no way that employers (or educational establishments, &c.) should be allowed to use anything done while "off the clock" against employees (or students, &c.).
Re: X window system
And I use X to control more than one Raspberry Pi from the same laptop. But we're not most people. Most people just use a single motherboard and a single display, and the full network-aware stuff with applications running on one machine able to display transparently on another machine is overkill for that usage case.
X isn't going anywhere -- except behind an "advanced options" tab -- anytime soon, and an X client which is also a Mir server (thus providing a compatibility layer) is practically a given.
Mir seems to be licenced similarly to the old OpenOffice.org model -- i.e., although there is a general-release GPL3 version, Canonical seem to want the right to release proprietary derivatives based on contributed code. That worries me a lot; as not only does it subvert the intent of GPL3 to the point of negation, but it potentially means Canonical could give themselves a monopoly by creating deliberate incompatibilities between Ubuntu-extended Mir and GPL Mir (the very situation Sun refused to let the reverse of happen with Java).
Someone (maybe the Fedora community?) needs to step in and create a fork of GPL Mir, without signing over copyright on any of their extensions to Canonical. If that gets enough of a usage base, it should help to keep Mir open.
Re: And yet still impossible to crack Sky Digital.
Oh, it's possible alright. But everyone who ever did it somehow disappeared mysteriously.
Re: XLR Balanced inputs look the part but are they?
I'm convinced that balanced lines are now a bigger problem than the problem they were originally intended to solve; which was noise pickup on small signals.
Balanced lines are sound if you're dealing with tiny, noise-prone signals that have to be routed along long cables to an amplifier. And because you have to use a transformer anyway to match the low output impedance of a dynamic microphone to the high input impedance of a valve amplifier, there's very little cost increase from having the low-impedance winding centre-tapped.
But we can do wideband, low-noise, low output impedance amplification nowadays, and with gain to throw away. In confined spaces, even.
There is no need even to match impedances at the sending and receiving end anymore; in audio, upstream of the power amplifier at any rate, we're more concerned with keeping the shape of the waveform than with getting as much energy transferred as possible. It's not a problem to amplify the tiny signal coming from a microphone or an instrument pick-up right next to the source, if needed; and its output can be at a sufficient level, coming from a sufficiently low impedance, to be essentially noise-free, even on an unbalanced cable.
The balancing and unbalancing stages are probably making things worse, even.
That would be a CD-ROM disc containing MP3, WAV or OGG files, as opposed to "red book" CD Digital Audio which would be playable even on the earliest CD players.
Mine's the one with all the various coloured books in the pocket .....
Because It's There
Same reason why people climb mountains: Because It's There.
Seemed sensible to me
Firstly, have you ever actually tried to get anything out of a supermarket paper recycling bank? It isn't easy, to put it mildly; and if you manage to avoid injury, then at the very least you will draw attention to yourself trying.
Secondly, who's expecting for there to be anything "interesting" in there anyway? Chances are the contents are mostly junk mail and newspapers. Yes, that's "security by obscurity" and therefore not especially strong, but the question "which one of thousands of pieces of paper out of which bin is the one I'm looking for?" is a bit of an obstacle.
Thirdly, if someone's paying for some "waste product", you can be reasonably confident that they are actually going to recycle it properly.
All things considered, there are worse ways they could have tried to get rid of it -- and easier ways to get hold of people's sensitive personal data.
Re: O2 advertising
You're reading TheRegister, an IT news outlet. It's assumed that you are smart enough to know how to block advertisements -- or at least, you know someone smart enough to do so.
This could be the best thing ever
If a bunch of ex-Nokia peeps jump ship and start a company building Android (or some other OS; but it absolutely must have an emulator capable of running either Android or iPhone apps, and I know which one is easier) mobiles specifically not for sale in the USA (this is not difficult in practice, as they just have to make them GSM-only and therefore incompatible with US networks) then they won't need to pay bogus royalties to Microsoft for patents which don't apply outside the USA.
The new startup probably won't ever reclaim the crown Nokia once held, when that tune was the most-recognised piece of music on the planet; but with some of Nokia's expertise on board, a decent OS (and therefore, app collection) and immunity from extortion, they could still do well.
If Nokia wanted to blow Microsoft a final raspberry, there's also still time for them to turn over all of their remaining IP to the Public Domain while the ink is drying.
Re: No Master
No -- it's an article about the Acorn Electron. The article about the BBC Master will be out towards the end of 2015.
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