152 posts • joined Thursday 14th February 2013 09:23 GMT
Sorry, but everything I see regarding this attack is basically saying "If you have trusted an unencrypted network in your device, and ask it to connect to them automatically, then it will join networks with that name automatically without entering authentication details".
Well... Yes. I should damn well hope it did, or one or other of the options "trust this network" or "automatically connect to trusted networks" is bloody lying to me. That still doesn't mean it's not an incredibly stupid thing to do, but it's not a design flaw.
How does this fare against encrypted networks? How does this let you capture details on any network which PREVENTS ACCESS to random unknown device? How does this mean you can get access to authentication details for encrypted networks that you join and trust? It seems to be a lot of hand-waving and misdirection.
"Ah ha, we see you're trying to join OPEN_PUBLIC_WIFI - let's make a network called OPEN_PUBLIC_WIFI and you'll join it!".
Yes. You will. Of course. Unless you're checking BSSID's (which can still presumably be faked etc.). That's why we have encryption and authentication. Because in any half-decent authentication system, a client that DOES have the details isn't giving them away to ANYONE. They are mutually authenticating against the other side of the connection so no amount of fake "ENCRYPTED_WIFI" networks would be able to successfully authenticate it and thus wouldn't provide network access to such a device without a DAMN lot of warnings (but, more likely, just floods of connection errors and no access at all, and the client constantly retrying to find their secured network).
And, I'm sorry, but any wireless device, on any wireless network is giving out the ESSID of the network it's joined. Go deploy Kismet and find out for yourself. It's much easier to just sniff out of the air, so advertising that a device is "looking for" a certain ESSID isn't really that much of a problem (much more of a privacy problem than a security problem, in fact) and won't get you any further than you would have even if they were connected in front of you to that exact network.
Wireless, like the Internet, is an unsecured network where anyone can sniff, modify, fake or inject aribtrary traffic. If your wireless deployment hasn't already taken account of this, for everything from joining to DDOS'ing to authenticating clients, then I suggest you throw it in the bin. If your wireless clients do anything other than what they are told ("remember that this is a trusted network with password X and BSSID XXXX") and it connects to networks that have the same ESSID but not the same authentication details or even same encryption characteristics as the known, trusted network had last time you saw it WITHOUT AT LEAST A WARNING - that client is rubbish and stupid. But that does NOT appear to be the case here.
What you're saying is that if I connect to wireless networks without encryption... WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP STUPID IDIOT ALERT. You don't need to go any further in that sentence at all, whatsoever, in any way. What you then do after that point, especially adding those networks to a "trusted network" list is beyond anybody helping you out or recovering the situation.
Hence why I don't touch open public Wifi, by the way. What a stupid idea. Even a pub that deploys a cheap router and scrawls the WPA key on a beer mat when you make a purchase is being more secure.
Wifi is open. Always assume it's open. Always expect everything you do on it to be overheard. Mark it as "untrusted" in your firewall on your clients, etc. If you want to secure it, only use it "unsecured" as the transport channel for a VPN connection. Problem solved.
How much money would be saved if we just made all governmental departments save in open, standardised formats suitable for the task at hand (i.e. not that pseudo-open MS junk they came up with to try to fend off ODF)?
How much money would be made if people didn't HAVE to pay several hundreds pounds for Windows/Office for every single computer in the country, even those not running Windows/Office?
I'm guessing more than MS would ever lose through piracy, intentional or not.
Re: Intergalactic give way
Probably the same as the unofficial rule of the road:
Give way to whoever's biggest.
You can argue about whether a car had priority until you're blue in the face. The fact is that if you pull out in front of bus/lorry then you'll be lucky to be having the argument at all. Which is why I'm always astounded that motorbikes take such risks.
Avoid having the accident. Then it doesn't matter whose fault it was. :-)
Re: My second job
There's nothing more scary than a comment WARNING. Seriously. The guy put it there for a reason. He BOTHERED to tell you that it's there for a reason, or he'd have just removed it for himself. There's something VERY fragile about that bit of code that you need to audit incredibly well or steer clear of.
It's like the one that says "This function cannot be optimised. When you realise this, please increment the counter below as a warning to the next poor fellow", and the counter is called something like "hours_wasted_trying_to_optimise_this". Take the hint. Someone went to that effort, not for comedy effect, but because it serves a real purpose to do that, even in real code.
At the very least, leave it in and put in a huge damn breakpoint on that line and have it email you when it hits it. Because it'll be that one corner case that, years ago, someone realised you only hit it when the first Sunday of a leap year is the 5th and the envelopes are less than D5 size, but at that point it performs a VITAL function to correct something related only to that kind of coincidence.
Dead code is easy to detect (hell, if it's truly dead, it won't end up in the final binary - if it does, you need to find out WHY), and warning comments should not be ignored.
It's a GIF, with a "ger". Anything else is just breaking the most used rules of English.
I'm hard pressed to think of an English word beginning with "gi" that is pronounced "ji". About the only one I can find is "gibbet" or "ginger", which seem to have come either from French, or which aren't consistent with their etymological pronunciations / spellings of old. 99% of the time, it's "ger".
And, sorry, but "jif" just sounds stupid, even if you aren't used to that being a cleaning product. Particularly when the G is for Graphics. Instruct someone to drop down a list of file format... "GIF" and they'll go to G. "JIF" and they'll go to J (and end up on JPEG!). JFIF, now that I grant you is a J. But it's also pretty unpronouncable (Jay-Fifth).
I don't really care what he thinks. It's about 20 years too late and "GIF" now means "animated image I see on Tumblr because it's allowed and is smaller for short clips in 8-bit that have been converted from MPEG", and not much else. And there hasn't been a change or an extension to the GIF format since 1989, PNG basically knocked it out of the ballpark and surpassed it in everything but animation (and APNG is technically superior, because GIF animation is a MESS, but unused because GIF is "good enough").
Every time someone gets pedantic over the pronunciation of a made-up word, I feel it's my duty to take the opposing position.
SCSI being "scuzzy" still annoys me.
PXE being "pixie" I hate (but it does allow jokes about "pixie UNDI's").
SATA is still, definitely, "Sarter" (not "Satter").
And FLV is a "floov" in my opinion.
You have to have a way to pronounce these things, and if you've never seen them before, you will pronounce them simply. And thus, NOBODY who speaks native English will naturally try to pronounce GIF as JIF without having heard that from some idiot first.
Re: Telly, and the wireless
Yeah, but... it's DAB.
Re: I just realised something
If you aren't already amazed that portions of your whole living room are powered by controlled nuclear reactions (or windmills blowing in the wind, or water running down a hill or whatever) from the other side of the country, that you have a connection to billions of human beings around the planet, that you are able to watch those probes being sent up in the first place in real-time, that you're using technology that wasn't even discovered 110 years ago to talk to electronic gadgets across your room that make it possible (radio!), etc. etc. etc. then you're going to spend much of your life doing nothing but looking aghast.
I find it infinitely more amazing that these things "creep up" on us and we end up using them without even noticing. And our kids will think we're stupid for thinking there's anything special about them.
Hell, my daughter isn't ever going to know what it's like to not know radiowaves exist and can be exploited. She won't see that Star Trek communicators were a work of fiction at the time and now we all have one in our pocket that does more. She won't even know what it's like to actually not know what her friends are up to (and that's something that my generation took for granted that you'd never have thought of at the time) or where she is on the planet.
Technology is shocking. More shocking is how well adapted humans are to just write it off as "the norm" in the space of a decade.
Re: Whatever you do, don't show the Win 8 scrreen!
"Some phone camera are already better than the cheapest dedicated."
Sorry. Wrong. Some phone CCD imaging components may be technically superior in, say, megapixels or other areas. But to say they are automatically surpassing to even the cheapest camera with proper moving optics is a bit of a misnomer. Sure, you can get some impressive and high res images but the fact is that the focal length just isn't there for anything but "people standing arm's length away" (ideal for a phone-photo of your friends, poor for anything else).
And it doesn't really matter what clever tricks you play, you need the focal length which is a physical light path length. Hell, it's about the only photo application where you can (and do) get away with fixed focus.
For a quick snapshot, yeah, a phone will do an amazing job given it's cost, size, secondary function, etc. To say it beats a camera with any kind of moving optics is really pushing it. I'm not a camera nut, it's taken me about six months to learn how to apply focal lengths, etc. for astrophotography from, basically, zero knowledge and the only camera I own - well, I don't, it's my girlfriend's.
But there's a world of difference between webcam/phonecam fixed-focus, limited use, flash-backed images in good light versus what even the most basic camera with "optical zoom" can do. Hell, the fact that people still compare megapixels is quite hilarious, it's like judging a car by how many revs it can do (by which standard, my dad's go-kart will beat a Ferrari). You can take unbelievable images of nebulae with a CCD that's barely a couple of megapixels, but would struggle to reproduce with even the most expensive of SLR cameras with hacking them apart.
There's more to a camera than megapixels. A lot more. What kind of ISO speeds does it offer? That's VERY telling, even some of the most expensive SLR's barely hit 1200 and some can go to ridiculous impossible-with-film ISO sensitivity. What focal lengths can it manage? What optics is it using (even the designer name of the lens doesn't mean much if it's cheap junk)? There are a million and one questions.
The person who judges a digital camera by the megapixel is someone who doesn't take a lot of photographs outside of "happy snaps". I don't either. But I know there's a whole lot more to it than just how many dots you get into your image (which you then display on a 72dpi screen or take to ASDA and get printed at 150dpi anyway).
Re: NOW will you try Windows Phone 8?
All new things should be taken with a pinch of salt based on the people who are trying to sell them to you.
Would you try a "new" pie from the guy who was convicted of sneezing into his baked goods?
The default position of all science is "we don't know".
The point is to step into parts we CAN know and say "we now know".
That (supposedly) happened, but now someone else has said (more convincingly) "Actually, no. We don't know at all".
So we're back to where we started, the default position of all science. The problem is that some people will have you believe that for the last 50 years we've "known" when actually we haven't. We're just now getting to the point where some people are getting annoyed, doing proper science and saying "See? You're talking rubbish."
That's not to say the Earth isn't warming or the climate isn't changing. Those things are currently independent of some moron shouting their mouth off from bad data. Just because they say the sky is falling doesn't mean it is, or it isn't. Because they just DON'T KNOW.
Re: As a testimonial ... and a touch of perspective.
Computers in school aren't a bad thing. Given how much people use them everyday, getting kids up-to-speed on the more boring parts of them quickly is something worthwhile. But we're talking teaching a life-skill, not an academic necessity (still haven't found a way to take down maths notation accurately in a nice way on a computer, and I'm 13 years past a maths degree).
"Computing" (as opposed to "Computer Science" which should be optional, come later, and be much more theoretical) should be taught the same as home-economics was when I was a kid. A lesson or so a week, a basic grounding in "office skills" and then that's it. Just so that they can't complain that they don't know how to get on Google because daddy never touched a computer in his life.
Above and beyond that, I have to agree that computers in schools is wrong. My job? I'm an IT Manager for schools. I try damn hard to make sure that at least we aren't throwing money away unnecessarily on tat and junk that we don't need, and instead have more money for pens, paper and decent teachers. Given the current state of many UK schools, I think that's needed at the moment. But I still get odd looks when I express the above opinion to the teachers I work with, more because they expect me to be the opposite than they don't agree.
Maybe a missing "1" somewhere?
Re: tools for the job - e.g. Rasberry pi
And to do so requires a decent teacher anyway. The skill is in the teacher, not the tool.
(School IT Manager for my entire career and sworn enemy of 80% of teachers I've worked with).
Re: The accepted wisdom
Computers are a tool.
Used properly, they help get the job done.
In special needs cases, they are the tool to communicate, or to move, or to enable. But they do not TEACH.
However, in the average classroom, they are no more educational than a pencil (in itself) or a piece of chalk. If you leave them in a room with some kids, they won't miraculously become Turing or Torvalds. The kids who pick them up and teach themselves on them would pick up ANYTHING and teach themselves on them. The fact that they are computers doesn't make them special or superior to any other tool in the land.
However, given that my entire career has been in schools, I will give you that a good workman in charge of that tool can work wonders. No different to what a carpenter can do with the chisel that I nearly take my face off with every time I use it. But the skill is in the workman (i.e. teacher), not the tool. Give that workman a pen and paper (or a penknife if he's a carpenter) and he can do wonders with that too. Just giving the tool to a moron doesn't get you a more educated moron.
I work with teachers. Most days I despair of teachers and teaching in general. But I have to say that the skill is in the teacher, not the tool. EVERY SINGLE TIME.
Gimme a good teacher and a BBC Micro or pen and paper any day.
Spent $2000 on RPi's. Wasted $50 on absolute junk (LED's, unnecessarily flashy fans, etc.). Then taped it together with electrical tape. Spent a huge amount on a managed switch, which I can't see being used on a "all-machines-the-same" internal network (probably just a few 8-port switches with Gb port would have been better, actually)
Got performance basically in the range of, say, an 8-core x86 processor. For $2000 he could have just bought direct from here:
And wiped the floor with it on a single machine, without electrical, cabling, machines, etc. concerns (and got a GPU for free, 8Gb RAM, stupendous storage not on SD cards, etc.). And his system takes 200W-ish, so you don't actually use much more power (the above would complete the task in less time, hence less power, and you could also use it as your main desktop so you don't have to recompile everything and chuck it over to the RPi's for computation from your laptop anyway).
I'm sure it's all a nice experiment and good "experience" for a quick play / setup with MP systems but it's really nothing interesting - especially not from a PhD candidate. Hell, I'd be rather peeved at him wasting his time and money on building that system and having the gall to write it up compared to buying a computer that runs his dissertation work directly without having to faff about. Especially the "performance" section of his write-up that successfully manages to imply that his system is actually worse than the others (performance per dollar) but with graphs that try to convey the opposite and then ploughs on to describe how much faster having more RPi's is than having just one (without any comparison to the alternatives).
If a 15-year-old had done this, I'd be saying good on them and well done for experimenting. But a PhD? Really? This is children's toys and the reason the "real machines" he wanted to use are booked up and expensive is because they wipe the floor with this for much less overall cost. Even the term Beowulf cluster died out many years ago when people realised that, actually, joining lots of commodity machines together wouldn't really beat the performance of whatever-the-next-most-expensive processor was, and if it did, then not by much and only for highly-parallel workloads. And nowadays, you find that the average desktop GPU will wipe the floor with even such a system (unless you have a cluster of GPU's of course, but that's an actually *interesting* project even if it's still old hat).
Re: So, that's all right then!
In the 50's the Thames level raised by 5.6 metres. Sure, it flooded in places. But it wasn't the end of the city by any means. Hence why we built the Thames barrier, because of that flood in particular.
So, no, a 1m rise won't wash away London but will obviously have an effect. However, the places to watch are the Indonesian islands and Venice. Despite sinking land and rising seas, they are still around (and Venice sunk a LONG time ago).
Nobody is saying that 1m isn't catastrophic either. Just that if you're 35 metres out (i.e. margin of error) on your historical sea level measurements, then how can we really trust your predictions of doom? 35m is the difference between being able to walk to a point where you can throw a stone and hit France, or most of the country being underwater - it's really not a measurement at all, thus your predictions based on that are really not worth listening to at all. That's the point.
If in doubt, do a quick Google.
"In the Upper Cretaceous (84 Ma), the Indian plate began its very rapid northward drift at an average speed of 16 cm/year, covering a distance of about 6000 km, until the collision of the northwestern part of the Indian passive margin with Eurasia in early Eocene time (48-52 Ma). Since that time and until today, the Indian continent continues its northwards movement at a slower but still surprisingly fast rate of ~ 5 cm/year.
So the Himalayas started to grow into a mountain range about 50 million years ago."
So, yes, I'd say that's plausible, given that 50m years ago we didn't have the Himalayas and now they have the world's highest mountain on them. In 3m years, by comparison, a few metres seems to be nothing.
Re: Nothing wrong
And any system having a backup is a good idea. Nobody says that they will use the China / US / Europe / Russian systems EXCLUSIVELY. I doubt even the Russians would. It only makes sense to get as many satellites on as many systems with as much precision and coverage as possible when you want to fix your position reliably.
As although we're told the US won't be "downgrading" GPS any time soon, it still makes sense to take account of system failure (or them just flat-out-lying) and use the other systems at the same time.
I am kind of holding back on my next sat-nav update because I want to get one that at least does Galileo as well as GPS, if not more.
Re: This will be useful...
"No problem, I'll just transfer you".
It should be a legal requirement that any automated phone menu goes straight to a human (even with a queueing hold system, if necessary) when you press, say, 9.
I get through to the right department approximately 70% of the time. And the more complex the categorisation, the more I just press buttons and then get the human to transfer me. And they can ALL transfer me. So why don't you just have calls go to ANY FREE AGENT in ANY DEPARTMENT and let them shuffle calls around instead of the menus?
It's one of those things that I've promised myself if I ever run my own business again, I'll never use an automated phone menu no matter how big I get. And if I do have a busy phone line, I desperately want the system that Dabs used to have nearly a decade ago where it says what number you are in the queue and how long it'll take to get to you every minute or so. Then at least YOU can decide if it's worth waiting or not.
So long as I can still take the prescription to the chemist of MY choice, not my doctor's.
I don't, as a rule, visit the doctor's unless something is green or falling off, so I haven't had a prescription for myself in over a decade. But when I pick up other people's, I've often found that their doctors have sent it straight to a pharmacy that's inconvenient for everyone and it's a fight to get it back and use it in the one you want.
And why would I do that? Take the Boots pharmacy, for example, that took the prescription for my girlfriend's Pill, fulfilled only half of it and then said we could get the other half "next time" because he had run out. And then refused to fill the full amount or give us the prescription back.
Sorry, but we ordered a month's worth for a reason - we were going on holiday and needed a month's worth. I had to have an ALMIGHTY row to get the prescription filled fully or returned to me so I could take it somewhere that could fulfill it. And in the past I've had no end of problems where the doctor sends the prescription to the local supermarket pharmacy or whatever that closes at some ridiculously early hour and thus stops me collecting it in a timely fashion at my convenience again.
Honestly got so annoyed that I made the girlfriend change doctor, change pharmacy and insist on getting a paper prescription each time rather than have it "sent on for you".
I don't care about the IT. Just give ME the barcode to take where I want. And stop pharmacies from being able to hold your prescriptions to ransom.
Re: Notting Dale Itek?
The 80's were a very different arena in terms of IT. Computers were expensive. Nobody really had one until later in the decade.
And, no, Google knows nothing of Notting Dale Itek, nor of the Dr you state. In fact the only link that matches anything is this very page.
So although it may have been a success back when we were all buying our first BBC's and ZX Spectrums and those kids probably had never seen a computer before, it's long-dead now that even the poorest of kids is carrying a mobile phone around and have broadband at home (even if subsidised by their school).
I work in schools. Putting IT in front of kids does not teach them anything. It's the teachers that teach them. Unfortunately, decent teachers are very rare (I've seen MUCH more than my fair share of teachers that have no knowledge of the subjects they teach, and who aren't actually very good teachers in general anyway). And even with the best tools in the world, you don't get better kids out of the end without some basic teaching skill going on.
I posit that the guy in India (featured on something like Russell Howard a few weeks ago, I think) who painted some blackboards on the underpass of a bridge and gets kids to sit on blankets in the dirt while he teaches them everything from writing to maths to geography, for a few hours after his (and the kid's!) work, is actually doing more good for the planet than anyone involved in an educational IT project in a first-world country that involves slapping thousands of pounds of equipment in front of kids with even an average teacher, and students that probably aren't really bothered about learning in the first place (or else they'd be in school).
IT is a tool. It doesn't kill people. It doesn't educate people. It doesn't make things magically quicker. It doesn't make things more reliable. It's a tool. Used by clever people, you can get some clever stuff going. But just putting a machine into a classroom without either having a decent teacher, or first getting someone to the point they can be decent, is like handing out silicon chips to primates. It won't make them any cleverer primates than they already are.
And, the fact is, a decent teacher could teach computing on a blackboard with chalk and probably do a better job than someone with all the equipment in the world (do we not all feel disdain towards those teachers who teach their kids how to use only Microsoft Office, to paste in an image into a Word doc and send it to someone, but not why they should have a least-permission model on their system, or not take 10bn cycles to draw an image on the screen, or having never tinkered with a piece of basic electronics?).
P.S. I'm NOT a teacher. I spend my professional life dealing with them, which is enough to put me off going into the profession and makes me worry for my daughter's future education. But the fact is that it's the teacher that makes the lesson work, not the fancy equipment. A teacher with fancy equipment can work WONDERS, I agree. But a good teacher with no equipment will beat a bad teacher with fancy equipment EVERY SINGLE TIME.
P.P.S. This is my primary argument against the Raspberry Pi (which I was an early supporter of and own one of the first batch). Technical issues aside, it alone does not make kids better computer users. And the biggest, most prominent, most warned-about piece that's missing even after all this time? Getting effective use out of what is - admittedly - a wonderful tool in the right hands. Fact is, they couldn't be bothered to exhibit properly in BETT, have few teaching resources available and, thus, it's those teachers who can already teach well that are using it and getting results. They made a device "for education" and didn't follow through effectively with any of the actual "education" side. Sure, you can run Scratch. But I can run Scratch on a Windows PC that every school already has. The actual support of the educational side is pathetic, and left to the teachers. As such, schools have bought it thinking it's some magical tool that will make their IT teaching better, and it ends up in a cupboard after a year (along with the tablets, netbooks, interactive whiteboards, visualisers and every other fad that's been misunderstood in the same way).
1) It's probably an act, as stated. He went to Eton, so he can't be all THAT stupid (famous last words).
2) He's a politician. That means he's VERY good at projecting a false front, and making people think he's something he's not. It also means he has to come across as harmless and friendly.
3) When he cocks up, he says so. That alone is enough to put him above others who reel out all sorts of excuses about why they did what they (deliberately) did.
4) He cocks up a lot. I'd rather have someone who cocks up than covers up.
5) He's backed several quite good projects - banning alcohol on the Tube, the Olympics (as much as I hated it, people seemed to enjoy it generally), Boris bikes (getting us into the 21st century in terms of transport, behind just about every other EU country that already has them, using a way that doesn't involve pandering to drivers or spending lots of money), and the Thames airport is probably quite a sensible idea. I'm not aware of any completely ludicrous ideas that he's backed (which is either fabulous PR or decent common sense).
6) In the expenses scandal, he had a few taxi fares totally a few hundred pounds that were allowed under the rules. You could say they were excessive (for taxi fares), but you'd be hard-pushed to put them on the same scale as claiming for houses for ducks or second homes costing millions of pounds.
If you want people to trust you, one of the best methods is to make them feel superior to you, and supporting good ideas instead of attacking them. He pretty much has this done.
And, simply, out of all the politicians I've seen, he's probably the least scummy. I imagine I could have a drink with him at a pub and not feel like I was being preached at, or that it was some publicity stunt. You get the feeling you could take him out on a stag night and he'd not feel like the butt of the joke even when he was.
I don't vote (various reasons, but basically because I DO NOT KNOW these people, so how can I honestly put in a claim that they should be running a service/country? And I also can't vote for the people that I *DO* know who would probably do a good job, e.g. a prominent mathematician/economist for a finance minister, etc. because of the way the rules about who can run for election work - it's not a democracy, for example, if I can't vote for ME or Fred Bloggs down the road). But there's something about the way Boris works that makes him more appear approachable and normal than the others. Sure, he's a stereotype (bumbling Eton graduate who knows more about Latin than he does about the working man), but he's comfortable in that stereotype and even panders to it (I'm sure).
Boris is probably the only politician that I actually LIKE (that's very different to wanting him to be put into a position of power with my explicit approval on a ballot sheet). Hell, we all had the same reaction as Paul Merton when the self-styled buffoon managed to get into the mayoral office, but the fact is that enough people put him there because they liked him / trusted him more than the alternatives (and have kept that like / trust).
He's a fool. But he's a lovable fool. And he's different to other politicians. There's something "unofficial" about his demeanour in public. He's not all stuffy and using long words for the sake of it. He has fun, even at the Olympic ceremonies and things talking about "wiff-waff" and entertaining the crowds while getting stuck up on high-wires. You can easily imagine him as "the posh one" in a crowd of people, and he'd be great fun.
Of course it's only an image (which is my primary objection to voting for politicians I don't know). But it's an image different to the others, and one that works. It's like voting in Prince Harry or something. Probably not the most talented person to put into office, but one that you trust and has a public image that suggests he won't DELIBERATELY do things wrong.
I have to agree.
Throughout all the "immoral" tax scandals of the last year, I can't help but think they are just playing the system that's been created for them. Why didn't you pay more tax? Because I didn't need to. Seems a pretty fair answer to me.
The biggest question, then, is not why Google aren't paying enough tax, but why the ministers who decide tax policy are too stupid to tax them enough without introducing loopholes that let them evade that tax. Perhaps that explains why we're skint as a country more than anything to do with the big banks.
Rather than expect people to play ball when they don't need to, we should be making people need to play ball more often. And if we don't, it's a failure of the taxation system, not the skilled finance people getting around the laws that they were drafted in to help craft (if recent news reports are anything to go by).
How's this? I want, say, 10% of your profit. Every time I find a way that you make profit without me getting my 10%, I introduce a law that gives me that 10% from the next April. Quite how hard can that be? Paying your own company (but in another country) all your profits in "intellectual property rights" payments? Fine. Introduce a tax on intellectual property rights payments that cross international borders. Or any intra-company transfer that crosses the ocean in some way. Using Guernsey's laws about VAT on flowers to avoid paying VAT on DVD's sold to the UK? Fine, we'll narrow to law to only include flowers (quite why it was so broad in the first place is a mystery), or extend it so that it covers everything, or refine it so that if you're not actually a flower seller based in Guernsey selling flowers grown in Guernsey to the EU then you still have to pay VAT (whether you do that by a simple geographical test of the manufacturer / customer of the products or some other convoluted method will really depend on how many loopholes you can find).
What is so hard about setting a tax and collecting it from companies that comply with the law (as virtually all of these big names that are being chastised actually did)?
Google make their money through advertising. They do that by accepting payment from UK customers and thus come under UK sales jurisdiction (including taxation etc.). They advertise to UK customers thus coming under UK advertising legislation. If they sell only outside the country, then they are subject to different taxation and scrutiny. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
It pretty much doesn't matter where their bank happens to be, but the reason all these companies have English, Chinese, Spanish, French etc. offices is because it's just too much hassle to deal with an entire country remotely (let alone a continent) - legally, financially and just plain fact that you come under their jurisdiction as soon as you perform trade in their country (and, as you point out, this being the Internet the second someone sees your websites it's basically trade). Hence why Google France were forced to pull Nazi-memorabilia, etc. when everyone else doesn't have a law against it. It's nothing to do with where your headquarters are, but to do with whom you are trading and the taxation gets you no matter what way you go - it's just been particularly generous to people who use shell companies in the past.
If they move offshore, then everyone who advertises with them currently will have to move over to Google Barbados (or equivalent) and pay a Barbados entity directly, deal with a Barbados company subject only to Barbados law, all because Google wish to avoid UK taxation, for their UK ads for UK products selling to UK customers (and, incidentally, then you would have them not subject to UK advertising law, etc.). I'm guessing an awful lot of companies won't want to do that, because their customers will disappear overnight (because of the legal grey area of handing them money via a Barbados subsidiary, the taxation legal grey area in general, and the fact that Google trading in the EU in any way will still make them subject to EU trading law, or all the UK business going their way will come under tight scrutiny).
And losing Europe is a pretty huge chunk of sales to lose. We're not talking a pittance but (if video games and other electronic services are anything to go by) about 50% of their total revenue (yes, in some industries, the US isn't the biggest spender!).
Fact is, if they want to get EU money from EU customers, you pretty much have to comply with EU law, one way or the other, remotely or not, and pay EU taxes. Or else we'd all set up a US company selling guns to UK customers or chewing gum to the Singaporeans - there's nothing illegal in your home country about selling to that other country, but it puts you into their jurisdiction when you do so. And a BIG well-known target like Google will attract a lot of regulatory attention if it suddenly pulls out of the UK and stops complying with UK law in order to sell to UK customers. You're honestly in "trade embargo" territory there (as in Google's home page going dark from the EU, which will cost them so much money with even the most pathetically circumventable blocking that they'd pay anything to get it back up after even a day).
So, let's not be silly. Google will have a UK, Ireland, EU, Spain, France etc. office in every country unless they go bust. It's costs MUCH more not to (and in places like France and Italy, you can't set up a company without an actual, physical, legal entity being in the country all the time - hell, try getting a .it domain name legally - precisely because of this sort of thing).
The fact is, Google will either comply or fight. If it fights it might win (there are lots of parts of the EU that are supposed to determine the laws that apply, not just a single country). If it doesn't, it will lose big-time and cost more money.
This is government we're talking about. If there's a profit in it, they'll WRITE the damn law that makes Google do their will.
Sorry, but any URL that you post into a third-party service, you have to assume someone else can see it. It doesn't really matter if it's Skype, Facebook, XMPP, or anything else.
And anyone using sites with authentication information contained in the URL? Sorry, you deserve what you get. Even HTTPS sessions. The data is encrypted for a reason, and the URL *NOT* encrypted for the opposite reason - with cookies etc. there's no excuse for the URL to contain authentication within them.
Anyone this is an issue for? Don't go copy-pasting URL's into chat conversations that might give away details that you don't want to give away. If there's no way to transmit URL information WITHOUT revealing your authentication etc. details - stop using that site. Or at least tell people how to log in for themselves rather than copy-paste your own direct links.
It's not a security issue, but maybe a simple privacy issue. And I'm sure there's a clause in Skype/MSN/Google Talk and anything else that they may monitor conversations for the purposes of security etc.
And, if you're REALLY that worried, use OTR encryption via a third-party plugin through whatever IM provider you prefer.
Re: What is a standard and what is a capability?
What don't people understand about 3G being the "third generation" of radio communication protocols, encompassing whatever you consider to be in that particular generation (e.g. LTE, etc.).
No fixed definition, merely a rough border on when something enters a whole new generation (e.g. MIMO, I would class as a new generation of radio communication, 64-antenna MIMO certainly sounds like something way-out-there in another generation again).
How does this differ from people who offer generational names to consoles (e.g. SNES and Megadrive in the same generation), or even processors (single-core, dual-core, huge-SMP, etc.).
What matters is not the name, nor the technology, just people to recognise that we aren't talking about something specific at all. And the name even reflects that (i.e. everyone has 3G now, 4G is the "new" stuff that people are trying to deploy, and 5G would be the generation after 4G is in place for most people and they want something more).
Samsung have a 5G product. It's not standardised as there are no standards yet. But when they arrive it will form part of the fifth generation of mobile communications protocols used in mobile phones, no doubt. The same way that UMTS and CDMA both were part of the third generation, and LTE, WiMax, etc. are probably going to be part of the fourth.
Hence why I quietly giggle when someone says their "3G" phone from abroad doesn't work in "3G" over here. It's like saying your Megadrive doesn't play SNES games. Of course.
Rather than accuse Samsung of misusing the term here, which they are probably the only ones who haven't done so, let's just educate people that 3G isn't a "thing", but a "concept". It's like saying in my dad's generation we went into space and onto the moon. It doesn't mean everybody on the planet at the time went there, or that we all went in the same shuttle at the same time.
Talking 'bout my GENERATION.
Sorry, but MS knows EXACTLY how many PC's are running Windows 8. You have to activate it, or it shuts down after 30 days. The activation requires Microsoft's intervention, the Windows product keys and/or AD integration (which talks back to MS servers).
They know PRECISELY, down to the single digit, how many genuine, activated, Windows 8 machines there are out there. So "sales" means nothing. As usual, let's lie to make things look better than they are. If you want to convince us that everyone is using Windows 8, you'd tell us exactly how many activated computers there are out there, checking in with MS servers. The fact that you don't means that you'd rather lie about it to make your numbers look better. Which tells everyone everything they need to know.
And, yes, I have Windows 8 machines deployed on my networks. Alongside Windows XP predecessors. They're not atrocious but they need a few bits of tweaking to get them there. Next year we intend to go all-Windows-8. Everyone else I know is on Windows 7, or even still on XP.
Windows 8 really wasn't that much of a turkey (shockingly). But MS messed up with the whole "we know better" attitude on the start menu, the app-store and other minor tweaks, and that's hit a brick wall, and thus given the OS a bad reputation and people are steering clear. If they had just provided OPTIONS, simple clear options that let people use their machines as THEY want, options currently only provided by open-source utilities with a handful of lines of code, then it would have been a very different story and Windows 8 would have been hailed as "7.5" and everyone would be on it. They've (hopefully) learned their lesson and 8.1 will be what 8 should have been, but now we're all waiting to see.
Re: Its nice (in a borat voice), but 99.9% ...
I think the point is that for most places who don't demand 99.9% connectivity anyway (and wouldn't understand what it really means it if they did), their Internet connection is going to be vastly less than that. Even getting any sort of SLA basically means leased-line.
Not every company is some huge conglomerate with a thousand desktops. The people being pitched at here also include tiny little outfits where dangling off their local BT business connection is going to cost them more downtime than anything Microsoft (or Google, or anyone else) could throw at them. The question top of my mind is "what happens when I go offline unexpectedly", not "what happens if THEY go offline unexpectedly".
And financial compensation is probably not going to be one tenth of one percent of what being without Office - site-wide - will cost you for a day a year, if you're a business that actually uses it to do business. Hell, just a day without email could cost you more than you pay on software and IT in a year if it means you lose a customer (or fail to gain that customer in the first place).
Has nobody spotted the biggest problem?
Bog-standard, plain-text email.
Not a chance in hell, matey, even if I thought you had a genuine reason to ask for those documents (and T&C's do not make a genuine reason, sorry... otherwise everyone's T&C's would include "user must give financial control of his bank account in case he does a runner").
Sod the fact that they asked for it (hell, take out credit and everyone will ask for all sorts of things that you probably won't want to give them anyway), question why an IT company - of all people - would ask you to send important personal documents by unencrypted email across a public Internet.
And then ask why this customer only queried the request AFTER HAVING SENT THE DOCUMENTS. I mean, come on. FFS.
"Well no. It used a much higher data rate than cassette and came with a special adapter that had to be plugged into a joystick interface. Unsurprisingly they didn't sell many."
Not "much higher", in fact. Nothing more than a turboloader, really (the first part of each track is basically a truncated cassette waveform, nothing more, the next is just a slightly higher speed like tape turboloaders used - I reckon they were actually intended to just use it direct as audio with the tape loader at all, but something got in their way - probably the quality of their mastering given that it appears to be an analog -not pure digital - recording on the CD!). Hell, parts of it use pretty much the same format as the original ROM loading routines, just without quite so much lead-in and syncing. Each track is 25K, from what I can find out. That's not outside the bounds of any program intended for a 48K/128K Spectrum on cassette.
And it was only really available for Speccy, C64 and CPC because two of those used the same chips and had very similar loading routines. Sure, it used an "adaptor", I'll give you that, but it was basically just a transistor or two using the joystick pins rather than the audio cable (it wasn't "intelligent" at all). Probably was just their way of overcoming the default ROM to cram on more games rather than anything particularly fancy.
Not really anything special. Just about any emulator will let you play back the noise and, quite literally, the noise IS the data that the Speccy used to use. Spectaculator has a way, even back to Gerton Lunter's old DOS Z80 program. Hell, most of them let you load in from audio sources which is the same thing in reverse too. How do you think those TZX's on WoS got there in the first place? (and WoS is missing an awful lot of titles that it used to have because of various copyright assertions - I have any number of games as TZX's from my own tapes that have never been on WoS or have been removed)
Hell, I remember Codemasters putting out a CD (when nobody could afford a CD player) that was basically an audio-CD recording of a load of their games. You could just play one track (no searching through the tape) and it played the same "screeches" to load the game (so it still took just as long to load). I even remember an instance where my brother and I were desperately trying to work out what was on an old tape we found and couldn't work out why it would load halfway and then fail. Then we hit play without the lead being in and discovered that it was actually a recording of us playing about with the tape recorder and mic while the Speccy was loading something in the background. Just the hint of a background noise of the loading sounds was enough to convince the Speccy to start loading data.
The Speccy's tape loading routines were genius for the time. Just a shame their Interface 2 ROM's never really took off. Again, I still have some of those that aren't available on WoS or other places.
Re: Don't confuse NFC and EMV !!!!
NFC is a suprisingly ubiquitous standard. Your phone can pay-by-bonk for the same reason that your credit card can, and can be read by the same equipment that Oyster uses and that "MiFare" based access control does.
Want a demo? Come to my workplace, where the Mifare card readers we use for access control have my Oyster card and pre-pay "NFC" pay-by-bonk credit card lined up on the system as additional cards for me (we present them to the reader, it reads the data off, and we mark that data as a "valid" card for access for myself). Very useful when I forget my access card, I just doink my Oyster or my credit card and the doors open just the same.
Additionally, I have an earlier post about our confusion over a constantly-changing number appearing on our access control. Turns out someone was holding a Galaxy S4 with NFC pay-by-bonk enabled on it when they entered the building. Every doink you get a unique set of data, over the EXACT SAME protocol as all the above. We couldn't use it for access control because it changes all the time, and the user pay-by-bonked for their train journeys, so we advised them to put it in their pocket before they clock in.
It's ALL the same technology. And the readers aren't even very expensive. Ask your access control people for Mifare readers, and then go tinker. (And, actually, we had a choice between "multi" readers that did everything and ones that only take Mifare - we have the "only Mifare" ones and they read data off all the above devices. So it's not even just that our access control does everything.).
Definitely getting closer. Capacity (and cost per capacity) has been my only issue with SSD's so far. I'm in the unusual position of having a laptop with two drive bays in it, and it would be a cinch to move one to an SSD but I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy. I still believe that no one component should cost more than the laptop did itself when brand-new, and that anything with a definitive wear effect should last longer than I'll ever need it to (no matter what the theoretical situation). Having seen drives last 20+ years without problems, whether spinning 24/7 or in desktop usage or sitting in a box, I'm still on-edge about SSD's longevity.
And, yes, I know all the mathematics and how long they will last and so on and so forth, and no HDD aren't anywhere near perfect either, but it's a new technology and I'm suspicious of all new technologies until the wrinkles are ironed out.
This, though, makes me actually start looking at them with a serious eye. I'd still probably go for the 500-ish Gb version, though, and I'd have it alongside another "real" harddrive (that only spins up when I load things from it and is otherwise mostly idle) and mirror a boot partition just-in-case, but it's definitely viable. By Christmas, let's hope these things are one-half to two-thirds the price, and then we can all start upgrading properly and en-masse. Hell, the 120Gb version is within the realms of corporate desktop usage (i.e. one in every PC in the place) and that will make even the oldest of computers absolutely FLY.
Re: I don't get it.
Nobody minds change. If you don't, you can't work in IT.
The fact is that you have to justify that change. Probably the Linux comments were right. But the argument there really is "it's too expensive to support all this UNIX stuff when we can get similar performance from Linux". Of course people find reasons to keep their jobs, that's not the focus. The focus is why they think that a bigger, more serious, pay-for system is better - either they don't have reasons, or the reasons will become clear when someone tries to chase up why they can't fix a problem / hire an engineer / find someone to support the system, etc.
I deployed Windows 8 at my workplace because we needed to move off XP. Fact is, only Windows 7 was a real contender for all those years but in terms of what we got back - it didn't really justify it. The licensing scheme we were on was an ancient educational one and didn't count towards anything any more (so there was no "free" upgrade to whatever we wanted). Hence we stayed on XP until 7 was stable and proven. We eventually deployed on 8, because of various reasons out of my hands but also because it basically *is* 7 with knobs on, and we had ways to turn those knobs off (if we didn't, we've have deployed 7 this year).
Fact is, I now have less working. Sure, it's old stuff that nobody cares about, but the time spent on the upgrade did little more than break software and get us into the 21st Century. We didn't gain anything we didn't really have before (hell, we were using GhostCast and the equivalent WDS setup we're forced to use now is actually MUCH slower and less intuitive and - hell - someone please tell me why I have to load up every 32-bit image into a 32-bit copy of the WDS tools on a 32-bit computer to create a catalog when the only servers are 64-bit Windows Server 2012 - they literally CAN'T build the catalog for 32-bit computers, even if they are the WDS server themselves! Just move everything to 64-bit? Then that's a whole-site hardware upgrade for little reason. And the recommended version of Office to deploy? 32-bit. It's all an ill-thought-out mess.)
But, hell, I have touchscreens for little kiddiewinks with snotty fingers. And I have a menu they can't navigate and apps they can click on the front screen and not get out of without memorising magic incantations that only work 80% of the time.
Change is frowned upon in IT. But it's also the fastest moving industry out there. Not many other industries where what you were doing 10 or even 5 years ago is COMPLETELY USELESS KNOWLEDGE now. We frown upon unnecessary and counter-productive change. And this article is hinting at the admission from MS that we were actually right about that - after billions of man-hours of wasted time - just because they couldn't put in a "classic" option or whatever.
MS can blame anybody and any one thing they like.
The fact of the matter is that they REMOVED OPTIONS. I don't care if people want to use Metro. I don't even care if they want to have it as the default on a fresh install. None of that really affects people. What affects people is NOT having the option to go back how it was. Give me the option, and I don't care what you put as default or try to foist on users - if I don't like it, I can turn it off and go back.
It's simple backwards-compatibility, simple user-choice, simple user-training issues. Moving to Metro did nothing for my Windows 8 users, except force me to put things back how they were by other means. When some third-party project on Sourceforge has options to make Windows work the way you want, that Windows itself doesn't have, then you have a big problem convincing your users that you are doing it "for them" (whether or not you actually are).
And, honestly, the failure of Metro is really the failure of the Windows app store. If that had taken off, we'd be hearing that the next version of Windows would be Metro-only and you could only buy Office through the store. Fact is, it was a flop, nobody really used it, nobody really targetted it (even MS's games division sell the revamped AOE2HD only through Steam, not even bothered with Games for Windows Live or the Windows store) and thus the bet of placing millions of business desktops on it was stupid.
Additionally, the removal of choice present a new problem for business users. Do you know I had to clear out Weather apps, Sports apps, News apps and other junk just to make a clean Windows 8 image for deployment? And how do you do that? You have to uninstall them from the control panel because otherwise they keep coming back up for new users. Did you know that you have to get to the personalisation screen and press the "no-hints-on-the-screen" Ctrl-Shift-F3 magic shortcut to actually use sysprep'ed images that you're deploying internally?
They totally lost sight that not every Windows 8 deployment will be to a personal user, running on a touchscreen (?!), that is willing to lose all the ways that work without a touchscreen (and, I would argue, the Start Menu etc. was more intuitive than having to stroke from top to bottom of the screen to close a Metro app which - on the touchscreens we have here - works only about 80% of the time because the screen is flat and has a large border, but only the visible image is "touchable" and the software just doesn't see it as a proper swipe unless you know how to do it).
I don't care what you do with the OS. Gimme an option to turn it off. You have the capability to put out an OS with fancy new features, put in an "off" button, and monitor how many people use it. If the number who use it is vanishingly close to zero, you can consider it a success and maybe remove the old interface in the NEXT version. But any fool will tell you that at least 50% of people on Metro would have wanted the option to turn it off from the start and would have pressed it. And that's a message - it means "stop faffing about with my computer and don't take this functionality away".
And don't forget that what a guy deploying business networks wants is VASTLY different to what a elderly first-timer buying a new PC wants. People have different needs and, thus, need different options. I *DO NOT* want my users to be able to install or use Metro apps. There's no need for it and it's just another avenue for exploit and time-wasting. Making it difficult for me to exercise that option makes it difficult to sell me your product.
It's not just Microsoft, either. But the fact is that they could have avoided almost ALL the negative press of Windows 8 by just putting in an off-switch or bundling Classic Start Menu as an option at the very least.
It was literally a coin-flip whether we deployed 7 or 8 without Metro this year (after a long hiatus while we waited for MS to sort itself out). We only went with 8 because we could turn it back into 7 (effectively) and get longer-lasting support for it (so that when they mess up the next version, we can just ignore it like we did Vista, etc.).
The range of NFC is entirely dependent on the size and directionality of the antenna.
What you are mistaking is the powering up of the circuit (for which, yes, you need to be close enough to apply the magnetic induction necessary to power the other side of the connection). That has to be "close". The radio waves, however, could be coming from and going to anywhere.
All you need is an accomplice (perhaps even unwitting) to carry a device into NFC power range that powers up the NFC devices, and a directional radio antenna connected to the most basic of software radios or scanners. Once something is in the air, you can't claw it back, I think that's the point of the article
So although we take a small step towards "impractical", we're much further from "impossible" than you would think.
Re: Cost reduction @Big_Boomer
Cheques won't die any time soon.
Finance people still write cheques. Businesses that want to deal with that finance department still have to accept payment by cheque. Banks, thus, still have to issue and accept cheques, en masse. Personal users still send cheques to their kids at college. Cheques are how you get refunded when you've overpaid on a bill or demand compensation / a refund.
And, in the end, a cheque is nothing more than a contract or promisary note in the eyes of the law. Phase out cheques and people will write the equivalent and make the bank handle them somehow. You can't really outlaw cheques, only one particular "official" form of them. You can cash a cheque that someone has given you without your own bank even being involved, really. When I bought a house last year, I had to send off the payment via a cheque despite the entire conveyancing, mortgaging and purchasing side being done online. And I had to send things by fax, too!
What's dead is retailers voluntarily accepting cheques. They fell for the bank's line that it was a lot of hassle for them and all they've done is managed to put themselves into the hands of a bank charging them per transaction where they weren't charged before (oh, and with Chip & Pin trying to push the liability for fraud to the retailer, make them have expensive integrated equipment, make their business reliant on an always-on Internet connection, etc.). Was it really that much hassle to accept a cheque before? I don't think so.
To be honest, I haven't issued a cheque in years. Paid in three in the last few months, though, including a refund of an overpayment on my car insurance (even though I pay by DD). I watched a stack of cheques get signed by a school bursar only the only day (and a parent paying school fees by cheque just this morning - we have all the card facilities, but not everyone uses them).
What matters is not the method of payment, it's what method is accepted. BitCoin might be a perfectly useful method of paying for goods and have real value. But until I can *BUY* things with it in *NORMAL* shops, it's never going to become mainstream. Cheques will go the same way eventually. But by then a £10 a month bank account to do bugger-all will be the norm.
Reason? International texts
My girlfriend is Italian. She texts her friends and family in Italy a lot - mostly because the call costs to/from a mobile are prohibitively stupid.
No contract that's a sensible price includes decent amounts of texting/calling to/from Europe to make it worth the while compared to some pre-pay international card (even with the hassle). However, even texting from them, it adds up quickly as the texts are never cheap especially if you use more than whatever arbitrary amount they like to limit you to. Don't even get me started on her having to have two mobiles, one for Italy, one for the UK, because using the UK mobile in Italy or vice versa is so stupendously expensive.
Honestly, we pay £25 a month for the basic phone, contract and included calls (which cover everything UK-wide that we do). She then pays £10 or more a month on top just for international calling / texting to Europe and goes through a rigmarole every time to top it up. And some months it can cost her even more than that. Bear in mind that she saves anything mundane for the daily Skype conversations she has with her parents / friends of an evening (which we don't pay for at all).
Lately, she's started using WhatsApp Messenger from her phone. Sure, she could use Skype but it's data-heavy and limited by the telecoms companies so it can be unusable. Load all her friends on Whatsapp, pay some stupidly minimal one-off price each, done. It looks like a text, works like a text, basically is a text, and basically costs nothing per text.
Text pricing is the biggest rip-off in the history of the world. It costs literally nothing for them to do - hell, why not just convert it to some Internet packet at the cell towers directly and save all the back-end bandwidth? You're literally sending a handful of bytes and charging pence every time, while other people are using every megabyte (HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TIMES MORE DATA!) they are allowed to browse Facebook. It costs no more to send internationally than anywhere else (and if it does, then maybe the EU should be looking into that, given the common market, etc). But we all know that the pence add up very quickly.
It used to be that you'd use text because a phone call would cost more and you could do it quicker with a text message. That's not been true for years. I basically stick to included text plans and not a penny more because it's such a rip-off. And now my girlfriend has got sick of trying to find a reasonable contract and does anything she can to stop giving the telcos more money. That strategy of gouging their most keen customers really works for them.
When I can enable 3G, send hundreds of thousands of times more bytes, and it cost nothing above and beyond what I'm already paying, why should I pay for texts? It's cheaper to go on the Internet, download a webpage, submit your text on the HTTP form, have that website send your text to the number you specify and it arrive back down to the phone you sent it to, than it is to just text it direct.
I have no sympathy. And I'll have no sympathy until they price things properly, support people's usage of their phones (i.e. stop blocking Skype or give me a reason not to use it!), and offer EU-based packages that aren't so ludicrously expensive that people are afraid to use their phones abroad (even if the telco company they use exists both at home and in the country they are going to, and probably sends all the data to their main datacenter anyway).
The school I work for use a Miifare entry system (same system as some Oyster cards - I can actually access the property with my Oyster because I programmed it onto the system).
When we tried a Galaxy S4 near it, it went mad, recording lots of non-existent card numbers on the Miifare reader. Once we worked out what it was, we just kept tapping. Through the Miifare interface it appears to give a largely random huge (16 digit I think) number that is presumably used for NFC payments. We couldn't make it give out a consistent number (so, no, my boss couldn't enter the building using just his Galaxy S4 even if he wanted to).
That's not to say that that is ALL the information it gives out, but over the Miifare NFC system (which appears to be compatible insofar as it detects an ever-changing number whenever you "doink" a reader) it appears to give some sort of transaction hash rather than easily-readable card numbers. A "PayWave" NFC pre-pay credit card that I have tested also had similar results.
Personally, though, I wouldn't trust it hence why the only NFC device I own is a pre-pay card that you can't spend anything unless I put it on anyway (yeah, sure, the banks say the same, but I *KNOW* there's only £5 on the card).
Re: I wish...
"I am wondering.. IF a balloon can be made that can escape the earths gravity, with a teeny little load."
Given that the balloon rises because the heated air (or whatever other method, e.g. helium etc.) in it weighs less (actually less dense, but let's stick with weighs less) than what's around it, it's not as easy as that.
The Earth is sucking everything towards it. The balloon "rises" because the stuff above it and around it is "heavier" and so it sinks to the bottom (the Earth) which literally pushes the balloon up (gap appears above, more heavy stuff appears below = you get pushed up, like a tennis ball in a box of ball bearings).
So you could get the balloon to rise to some place where it weighs roughly the same as the stuff around it, or not. But then it'd stop rising. Because it always weighs *something*, the place it stops wouldn't be the area where you are weightless, or where there's no atmosphere, but somewhere quite below that (so not really "true space"). However, if you then waited until that moment to fire some proper propellant (i.e. not relying on air-pressure differences to make you rise, but actually pushing yourself out), then you could leave the planet / atmosphere, if the propellant is strong enough.
Nobody really bothers with that - it's not very effective or controllable or saves that much compared to, say, piggybacking on a jumbo jet (which is an actual sensible launch method for a lot of similar things). The propellant weighs something. As does whatever method of firing it. That makes it harder to lift up and so you don't go as high. So you end up in the bottom of a curve somewhere on a graph that never quite touches "space", a compromise between propulsion and payload. Hence why anything tangible that's ever left this planet has done so by the application of amazingly high amounts of force over long periods of time, rather than just letting it float up.
The problem with a balloon is that what's inside the balloon is generally going to weigh some non-trivial amount. It will be pushed up to the point of the Earth's atmosphere where the air around is about the same density ("weight") as the balloon itself. And then it will stop. And actually crumple and not be balloon-shaped any more. And probably fall. And then (maybe, depends on the design, but even ideally) rise again, and fall and rise like a blob inside a lava lamp (because that's basically the best analogy anyway).
If you had an infinitely large lava lamp but only one "heat source", no blob would ever make it all the way to the other end, because it would eventually meet cool oil that cooled it enough that it wasn't less dense and it would fall back towards the heat source. Same with a balloon, except the gases exerting pressure on the balloon run out a lot quicker than infinity.
And balloons fail for a reason that high up, mostly to do with lack of pressure on them and losing their shape, and all sorts. You might get a little higher with multiple balloons (i.e. maybe 5-10% higher) but by the principle of redundancy (i.e. they don't ALL fail early) rather than by any trick of physics.
Otherwise, honestly? We'd have been in space in the 1800's. Fact is that it took until the 1960's before we have enough thrust to do anything useful - even low orbit.
It's the kind of way I'd do things for myself, given the project, but not really what you'd call a model way of doing things.
Seems like a bit of footage and an awful lot of photoshopping and manually aligning, really. Hell, at one point he runs the individual frames (extracted from a compressed movie) through a visual processing software only to then take the output and do the same again, and again until he gets a flat horizon. Torturous to the original footage, I should think, not to mention that he removes half the control points in the upper parts of the images so that he gets a flat horizon in the end. Sure, he's only interested in the horizon and what's below but that's basically a way of saying "sod everything else, so long as it looks flat".
And the Audacity hack? Rip the sound from the video, align the tracks by hand, steal the offsets (from the XML project file, no less) and then get FFMPEG to reassemble the video with aligned audio from the given offsets. I think any video editor software would have been able to do a better job for you rather than faffing with Audacity, FFMPEG (again, saving a compressed movie stream from a compressed movie stream) and manual offset-editing (which he does by lining up waveforms in Audacity). Hell, there are some free ones that would do it all in the one screen, I think.
It gets a good result, but it's all a bit Heath Robinson and yet - at the end of the day - just the ideas that he deliberately decided to not do (such as using a clapperboard-style sync on the image/audio in the first place) were probably the most sensible Heath Robinson way of doing it.
He compensates for the rotation of the cameras basically manually. I'm not sure about the accuracy of a digital compass in space (I presume it works just fine, actually) but at least it would have been cheap, fitted into his gear, and saved him a LOT of coding and processing time if making a panorama was actually his original intention.
Now, amateur astronomers do similar things - capturing Saturn's rings with a cheap telescope is a pain so they film it on a cheap webcam and run the individual frames (which just have a blurry mass rather than a clear ring in them) through software that "aligns" the images and composites them to get a single image of Saturn complete with rings. For science, I could see that technique being used, so long as the data were calibrated and the transformations carefully monitored. Hell, that's how VLA's basically work
Personally, I call that cheating. That's not photography, so much as photoshopping. I'm happier with a straight-forward photo (even through the eyepiece) of Jupiter than I am some composite image that software basically "made up" for me.
Same here. If he'd just put up the images / movies, I'd be happy. The stuff about making a fabricated panorama by basically forcing the image into shape using improper tools? It's just fluff that gets in the way of the real achievement.
Re: Please don't use ....
I honestly can't decide if you're being sarcastic or not. But, just in case:
"MP3 compression removes sounds the human ear cannot register" - and this affects sound quality to the human ear how?
Changes the audio wave? Er... how? In ways the human ear can't register? Nobody cares about the things in the audio that they *can't* hear. Or is this some sort of Zen where removing the bits you can't hear anyway somehow affects the bits you *can* hear (which, of course, is true to an extent if you do the job badly or too much, but the point of MP3 is that it doesn't, provided you have high enough settings, and yet it still takes 1000th of the storage space).
Maybe, just maybe, the thing is that people don't care about audio quality because 99% of the population CAN'T tell the difference between a decently-recorded MP3 and the original sound source, or cheap headphones and stupidly overpriced ones, or Bose hardware and some actual, professional rig, or gold-plated oxygen-free cable and a 50p bit of copper?
Maybe the vast majority of people were never able to. Like those able to discern HD at any sensible distance in a proper equivalence test (note that PAL signals fed down analogue copper into an interlaced SD TV compared to a HD-clean, digital processed signal with greater display dynamics available on the actual image elements anyway isn't really an accurate test of just resolution, for example) - maybe they are in the absolute minority in this case? Maybe most people bought a new TV in the last few years to get a flat screen rather than a cubic box, a bigger screen, a brighter screen, one that has HDMI sockets but NOT because it was actually capable of HD? Maybe it really doesn't matter if you wear designer trainers or some cheap junk that lasts longer but looks slightly different (and probably came out of the same factory anyway).
Maybe, just maybe, people don't care because THEY CAN'T TELL. It's like a colourblind person being told they have to buy a t-shirt that's red-and-green rather than just red. If they can't tell, and there's no compelling reason to otherwise affect said purchase, maybe it's all the same to them and they'd rather have the cheaper, easier, plain red t-shirt?
I can't spot HD. My HDTV receives both HD and SD and displays both with relative indifference (many don't - I've seen some HD TV's that just cannot handle SD content nicely). I can see the difference up close (from years of working on 1024x768 screens back in the VGA-only era from inches away while watching SD TV's *PERFECT* images on a WinTV card in the corner of my screen), and I can spot a dead pixel or screen dirt at ten paces, but I haven't actually bothered to do anything about HD.
Hell, I have HDMI inputs for everything purely because that's the standard now, not because I get anything more from them (but HDMI travels less well over Cat6 than VGA in my experience). They are just sitting there, doing the job of a SCART or Composite lead, really. About the only thing I can see that actually comes out in HD differently is if I plug my laptop in, with it's stupidly high resolution which I can't read from the other side of the room when it's like that anyway. Put it in 1024x768 and I notice no less pixels, but it's at a decent size I can read from 6 feet away. About the best thing about HDTV's is that everyone now has a TV you can plug a computer into if your screen breaks, and which will take any resolution that even a ten-year-old laptop could pump out quite happily without requiring special conversion, adaptors or smoothing.
My car has an SD card reader in the radio. Junky MP3's are all it plays because - with even the quietest of driving noise - I can't tell the difference between that and the CD player in it. Hell, I can't even tell when it's the radio playing the same songs as I have on the SD card unless I drive through a tunnel. You could swap the radio for anything else and I still wouldn't tell. I changed car for one with the 15-year-old original radio/cassette in it recently and could not tell the difference between that and the usual radio I use when I moved it from my old car.
My laptop has inbuilt sound, and it's a gamer's laptop, as was my previous one ("gaming laptop?!" I hear you cry? Yes, because for the games I play, the fast-paced twitch-reflex FPS shooters and everything else, I can't tell the difference between a powerful desktop PC running them at 120fps and my laptop that doesn't dip much below 60, so why not have a laptop that's portable and battery-backed as well?). It's supposed to be very good sound, according to all the stickers on it. They make a big fuss about how it's not your usual integrated sound.
I turned off the mixer panel in the toolbar because it annoyed me (and all that equaliser junk). I set it to 2-speaker stereo in VideoLan and any games because it made my movies sound funny in 7.2. I plug in a cheapy pair of over-the-ear headphones and I'm literally deaf to the world except for game sounds (and can hear the slightest buzz - on other people's laptops, I actually pick up their hard disk and even mouse-moving-on-the-screen sounds through those headphones that you can't hear otherwise without a stupidly amplified external speaker). How many people with expensive headphones for "quality" then have noise-cancelling ones that basically modify the signal based on some internal mic at some unknown sample rate anyway?
I can happily watch TV through my laptop with the internal speaker and entertain a room of friends without anyone cringing. You know why? It's good enough. If you asked me if I could save £5 by not having 7.2 surround on my computer's sound card, or 96KHz mixing, or whatever, I'd do it.
Maybe, just maybe, some people are overly fussy and think they need these things, or actually do need these things and want to make EVERYONE else have them for no good reason (possibly to make them cheaper for the person to get their "specialised" hardware? I don't know). If *YOU* can hear the difference, you go buy them. Don't tell everyone else what they should or should not be buying, listening to, or watching.
Me? Hell, if push comes to shove, I'll pull a pair of in-the-ears out of the "60p" box in Maplin's if I really need them. I'll barely notice. I suspect almost everyone on the planet is pretty much the same. Back in the 80's, I don't remember anyone complaining about the audio quality from the huge over-the-ear school headphones that all plugged into a splitter box out of the back of a cassette player. I work in schools - found some pair that was LITERALLY from the 80's the other day in the "does anyone want these" bin, was tempted to keep them for myself but actually, they sound just the same as any other headphones I've ever tried that were a similar design. And nothing has a 5mm jack or whatever size it is any more.
Please stop telling people that audiophiles should somehow be deciding what the world listens to. That's like having sportscar enthusiasts dictate how fast milk floats should go.
If you can hear it, good for you. I'm quite happy with MP3, SD, 25-50fps, and having more money in my pocket. As are about 99% of the world.
Re: A debt is still a debt.
It's the definition of estate that is the only source of confusion. Most people don't understand what it means. In effect, I haven't "died", I'm still around in the form of my estate. Pretend I'm infirm, and so someone is nominated to take care of my life. That's the estate, and the "executor" of the estate. They won't be paying my bills from their pocket, ever, but they will handle what money and assets I still have left and paying off debts on my behalf. My personal debts, however, do NOT become their personal debts.
Also, if I die leaving a millions pounds of debt, but only half a million pounds to my family, that half-a-million will never go to my family. If it does, it will be pursued and reclaimed. It doesn't matter what my will says that's not my money to bequeath. (This applies to a lot more in wills than you might think - if you attach ANY condition to a sum of money or asset in a will, for example "only if he gets good grades" or "only if he doesn't marry that woman", then the person who would get the money can sue the estate for it, no questions asked, no matter what they have done. Always check with a lawyer.)
So they can pursue the estate, and the person who managed the estate, but they cannot expect even that person to pay them money from their own pocket. It comes from the estate. However, if the executor - or anyone else - was left even a pound in the will, then that pound can be taken from them as it's still technically "mine" and thus still technically owed to whoever I owed it to. Otherwise, "dying" would be a fabulous way to legitimise an awful lot of criminally-obtained money and assets that don't belong to you.
The difficulty then arises from shared properties, etc. My estate might include only half a house (half of a family home, for example). The companies are quite right to pursue the value of that half of the house - even if it means the other owner needing to sell it, or take on half the debt themselves so that they own all the house. Similar things happen with longer term contracts, e.g. cars, phones, etc.
In terms of contracts, technically I might have breached contract, and that might incur a fee on myself, which - because I'm dead - is a debt on the account. However, a late payment fee when you're dead is a bit overzealous. It has to be said that payments don't get much more "late" than that, but there's no way for me to reasonably fulfil that part of the contract upon my death. The fee, therefore, is probably not pursuable. However, my estate would still need to return any phone tied to the contract, outstanding monies, etc. The executors of my estate can't just not pay my bills if there's even a penny left in my estate.
However, unlike many people think, those debts CANNOT be transferred onto other people directly, even the executor, unless there's some kind of major mismanagement of the estate (i.e. fiddling!). If I owe £100, my dad isn't legally required to pay it for me now, and the same is true if either of us dies. The problems stems when people are too keen to distribute the assets and not the debts, because then that involves clawing back inherited assets from people and redistributing them.
Oh, and be careful who you appoint as executor. I know of one person (legally trained) who has been appointed "joint executor" with her arch nemesis (not legally trained) from the other side of the family. That's just ASKING for trouble.
Every single battery technology I have ever heard of has come to nothing. Literally a dozen or more articles a year on places like Slashdot, The Reg, etc. all backed by "Bliss Professor" (whatever that is, sounds like a good job) or similarly qualified people, all telling me how the technology will scale, all telling me that it's more powerful than anything before, all telling me that it all works in the lab.
Every single battery technology that was a provably commercial advance - I'd not heard of it until it was on the market and selling and then the commercial market actually improved it. I can remember when laptops used Ni-MH and the first Lithium battery (apart from coin-cells etc.) I saw was in a laptop a friend had bought. I didn't even know it was possible until I was holding it in my hand.
I'm not saying that a LiPo didn't start off in a lab somewhere, but if you pay attention to every battery-in-a-lab that appears to work wonders, you get incredibly disappointed when NONE of them appear on the market even 25 years later. And then you'll start ignoring them all and only paying attention to ones that do appear on the market. It's nice to know "this exists in a lab somewhere" but for any practical use "this can be bought by me for a decent price from somewhere" holds infinitely more weight.
As with everything from Wii to iPhone to supercapacitors to Kickstarter campaigns and everything else: It's easier to wait until you can buy - because what does it matter before then anyway? - before you get excited about anything. That way, you don't spend years waiting for no-shows to arrive, possibly ignoring other commercially-viable products in the meantime.
Re: What could possibly go wrong
As pointed out a few comments above, the radio devices that are being used are being held back from penetration testers and have exhibited remote-access problems that allow precisely this.
Maybe not on a big screen, but at least any passing laptop with a radio scanner.
Re: washing machines
Then, how long before everyone just puts overrides on everything and we're back to square one with lots of expensive sockets being "overridden".
And as another poster points out - they don't install sockets in your house. So your consumer unit will have to change to allow remote control and/or they will cut off all your electricity. Even if they cut off a lot of consumer unit circuits individually, that's still means having to have a "do not shut this off" socket and other sockets. So customers will just bypass things.
It's not practical without forcibly rewiring everyone's house, everyone's consumer unit, and fitting a smart meter. Unless, of course, you just don't care and turn people off when they use "too much" of the thing you're selling them.
I reckon you'll see a huge surge in generator and transfer switch sales before you'll see controllable smart meters do ANYTHING other than look at the frequency/voltage across the whole house.
The algorithm is basically jointly decided on by everyone who runs Bitcoin. If the old "insecure" Bitcoin isn't classed as valid any more, then it has no value any more, and you would need to transfer those bitcoins to a new "secure" version of Bitcoin in order to carry on using them. The software itself has been designed to plug in any algorithm you like to do the coin generation/verification and that's all the security you have (and need).
No different to "Switch" changing to become "Meastro" or whatever - after a while, people will stop taking your Switch card until you upgrade to a Maestro card - and there's a transition period which can be closely monitored and with exchanges accepting both for a while. And all just by keeping your bitcoin software up-to-date (some of the old bitcoin clients aren't accepted any more because they create transactions that aren't valid on the newer software - this is what the bitcoin "fork" was a few weeks ago) - you have to do that in order for your bitcoins to have any value (i.e. someone else accepting them as currency) anyway.
And bitcoin wasn't hacked, wasn't brought down (nor were the exchanges - just DoS'd) - this time. Bitcoin is a system comprised of millions of people choosing to agree on what the valid "root" chain is, and what version of software is required, and is still functioning and being used every day - even during the attack and the price crash. But it was like not being able to get to the largest bank in the country for a while to draw out your funds (which, even in real life, would affect the value of the pound etc. the same way it affects the value of the Bitcoin).
The problem of Bitcoin is not hacking, but really of hoarding and poor news stories of speculation (i.e. predicting doom because a currency value varied for a short time!) - people are betting that Bitcoin will go up and down in value all the time, 50% will make money if they happen to be right at that point, but it has little to do with the actual money in Bitcoin longer-term. In the same way that banks play with my money and may not have enough to cover what my bank statement says at any given point, Bitcoin will be speculated with and people will win, lose, and affect the value of the currency. At the moment, the value can be more volatile purely because 65 million people aren't using it, and the panic that ensues when the largest exchange is inaccessible, etc. But as more people use it, and more exchanges pop up, the volatility decreases - probably to the point of every other currency at best, though.
I finally managed to get a fifth of a whole bitcoin, my first proper bitcoin transaction that wasn't a test. I intend to hold onto it and see what it's worth in a few years time. If I hear of an impending problem, maybe I'll cash it in with the rest of the cowards. But saying that a currency is useless because the value fluctuates - especially at this early stage where I can count the number of people that I know who understand what it is on a single finger (i.e. me) - is something that can be applied to any currency you like. How much is a Zimbabwean dollar worth now? And how much would it be worth if you'd put it into Bitcoins just before it crashed, and cash pieces of it out in US dollars afterwards as you needed them? It may not be perfect, but no currency is. However, the idea certainly has *VALUE* (as a process, a currency, a transaction method, and even as a savings account) even if that's fleeting, opportunistic or volatile.
Well, if you keep funds of any currency in a third-party, you are of course at the mercy of that third party and their continuing operation. It's like saying that people who put money in a bank obviously think that banks won't just disappear. Of course they do. But it doesn't mean that banks, or any other company holding your stock or money of any currency, couldn't disappear tomorrow either - legally or not.
The "freetard" argument in terms of Bitcoins is a fallacy. You're just trying to drag in old arguments from other quarters (e.g. DRM) that have little or nothing to do with Bitcoins, or a fundamental misunderstanding of what they are. Of course, your entire Bitcoin balance relies on other people running the bitcoin software, updating it, and assigning value to its product (which is just a bunch of numbers). How that overlaps with software freedom or DRM is beyond me.
The trouble is, as someone who wanted to just "put £20" into Bitcoin to see what happens in the next year or so, it's so dubious and tricky as to be almost impossible.
You *won't* mine your own bitcoin in a number of years with all the kit in the world unless your invest thousands just to do so and have electricity bills far in excess of the monetary value you want to put into BitCoin now.
You can arrange shady deals with anonymous people who'll take PayPal or cash and hand you some BitCoin in return. Sounds about as reliable as giving John down the pub a tenner for a car stereo.
You can go through numerous websites, all of whom want wire transfers, bank details (i.e. sort codes, ID-confirmation, etc.) or methods of payment that you've never heard of (and most of which require just the same details) to get any Bitcoin. There's no simple way to pay by credit or debit card whatsoever (and some convoluted methods include passing the cash through things like Second Life and all sorts). And they are all run by people who make their living holding other's BitCoin-wallets (which is just prime target for hacking, and several have been compromised in the past and everyone's money stolen).
I get the idea of an anonymised payment system. I love the mathematics and computer science behind it. But the fact is that there's just no sensible way to actually GET some of those magical Bitcoins, even in amounts that are pitiful and sacrificial, without chancing your arm with shady people asking for more bank details than necessary in advance. And the anonymity of the currency itself just means that you'll have basically zero comeback if you never get paid your BitCoin.
The world is run by accountants.
The problem is that the "most efficient" / "most cost effective" way of doing things for them is not the same as for their company's customers. That's why it's cheaper for me to talk to Outer Mongolia on my phone for an hour than it is to load up a webpage while travelling in France.
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