* Posts by Mike Bremford

20 posts • joined 5 Jul 2007

Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap

Mike Bremford
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@Marvin the Martian

Er, 500km per day, per person on *average*? You are aware what average means aren't you?

Your sums would have each and every one of us doing 100,000 miles per year, so unless you envisage a future filled entirely with travelling salesmen I assume your "he's a numbers man" comment was intended to be deliciously ironic. Well done.

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Big Climate's strange 'science'

Mike Bremford
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Hey, can I have a byline too?

I had to chuckle reading the Register recently.

Apparently computer viruses are caused by infection of pluggin' a computer into the Electriical Intermernet! Well, that's one point of view. Computer Science is a very new field, and not all the experts agree.

For instance, I have a computer in my living room and it get's quite hot when I turn it on. Doctors tell us all the time about Bacteriums and Immunocological systems but because they're not respected "Computer Scientists" their opinions are ignored. But when my Aunty Mabel got the French Pox last year she got hot too. Why does no-one listen to these Doctors too?

Clearly these so called "IT professionals" have a vested interest in having us download upgrades the size of Wales for our perfectly healthy Computers. But when I put a Cup of Chicken soup in the cup-holder on my computer and wrapped it in a blanket, it cooled down right away? How do they explain that then?

--- Mike is an avid Mail reader and mother of three.

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Israel electric car project aims to wipe out oil

Mike Bremford
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Oil extraction costs

Assuming continued demand, it's not the economic aspect that will cause problems. There's an energy requirement to extract oil as well - as difficulty of extraction increases there is a theoretical point where the energy required to extract, refine etc. the oil is more than the energy that can be extracted from it. At that point oil just stops, regardless of how much money you have available to throw at it. No point in spending 100KWh to get 90KWh.

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Junkie sues pusher over heart attack

Mike Bremford
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Paracetamol

I think the legal limit is two packs.

BTW, the "suing mcdonalds for hot coffee" isn't quite as black and white as the urban myth would have you believe. It was something like 85 degrees C, well above drinkable level, they'd been told to cool it down several times. The woman wasn't driving at the time and required extensive skin grafts as I recall.

http://www.lectlaw.com/files/cur78.htm

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Clarkson's 'steal my ID' stunt backfires

Mike Bremford
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Not just Direct Debits.

I was at the local nick a few months ago (by choice I might add) and the guy ahead of me was reporting a phony standing order on his account. £3000 a month, ran for 3 months before he spotted it. No DD guarantee there and the paperwork requirements are similar.

I also had a mate who had money stolen from his account through telephone banking. His bank required 2 random digits from a 4 digit pin code - yes, he chose a date, and was horrified when I guessed one was 0, 1 or 2 and three was a 0. Oi! Banks! Five digit pins stop people choosing dates.

Nice work Clarkson, always have time for people can admit when they're wrong.

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The Electric Car Conspiracy ... that never was

Mike Bremford
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Re: It's all about TCO

Nope. I'd love to know where that 80% figure first came from - I've heard it several times now, but it's a long way from reality.

There's an exceptionally well-researched answer to this question at http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=433981 - but in 10 words or less, roughly 9% of a car's total energy requirements is from manufacture/recycling.

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The day Microsoft 'embraced and extended' Java

Mike Bremford
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Stop

JavaScript is maligned

JavaScript has a poor reputation because it's used by people who don't know how to program and because some of the additional components it's normally associated with (ie the HTML DOM) are poorly implemented.

As a language though it's superb. Loosely typed, sure, but strong minds can handle weak types. It has closures and all of the fun bits that make Ruby so popular, and in terms of speed of development it's hard to beat.

I'm normally up to my eyes in Java but I've been using it a lot in it in non-browser environments lately and it's a pleasure (ok, it would be more of a pleasure if Sun and Mozilla hadn't diverged a few releases back - JSAdapter vs getters/setters, anyone?)

Don't make the mistake of tarring it because of it's users - like communism and religion, the underlying principles are sound but it's usually adopted by clowns. Take a look at here first. Or just go and use gmail for crissake.

http://javascript.crockford.com/javascript.html

http://www.crockford.com/javascript/private.html

http://blogs.sun.com/sundararajan/entry/self_javascript_and_jsadapter

http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Core_JavaScript_1.5_Guide:Creating_New_Objects:Defining_Getters_and_Setters

http://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/New_in_JavaScript_1.7

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Cops coax half-naked Czech wolfman from Cardiff tree

Mike Bremford
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Wales Cops Check Czech Werewolf Wails

My tongue hurts.

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VoIP is Dead. It's just another feature, now

Mike Bremford
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Skype failed because it's crap

Plain and simple. Calls drop. Users who are online don't show up. All due to the wondrous P2P architecture, replacing one point of failure that Skype could control with many simultaneous points of failure that they can't. Although Skype In numbers would also fail without warning and be down for hours, so maybe it wouldn't have made much difference.

We tried running a small business off it and it was useless, even for sending messages across the office (due the aforementioned missing user issue). I gave Skype money, but they sure didn't make it easy, and billing was nightmarish for more than one person.

And to top it all off it doesn't use SIP (like this article states) but a proprietary protocol. So the legion of hackers who thought it a Good Thing when it launched couldn't get involved. Argh!

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Dreaded Blue Screen of Death mars some Leopard installs

Mike Bremford
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It is definitely APE, although Apple not helping.

I hit this one. APE, as I recall, modifies the dynamic library loader somehow to allow code to be injected into applications. Older versions of APE didn't check for the version of the operating system, and users with those versions (including me) found that the application that brings up the login window wouldn't load. You were left looking at a plain blue screen.

Newer versions of APE do check for 10.5 and won't load if that's the case, which is why it works for some users. However this doesn't help you much if you didn't even realise it was installed. According to a slashdot thread there are some commercial apps out there that use this rather insidious little app to modify the OS, so it's not always the users fault it's there and many may not even realise it is.

Bottom line, if you're going to write code that modifies the dynamic library loader you damn well make it bulletproof - this is 100% Unsanity's fault, although Apple haven't been too forthcoming either. When I spoke to Apple Australia midday saturday and told the guy my mac was hanging on reboot, he said "so, do you have the blue screen and nothing else". It was the first call he'd taken but some of his colleagues had hit it, yet still nothing from Apple officially. The guy told me to archive and install, and didn't mention APE once.

Leopard also has an issue (still not fixed even with the update) with failing to open some FileVault drives which has hit my mate rather badly, and the missing Java 1.6 is a disaster. The 1.6beta that was running flawlessly under 10.4 is dumping core, and I'm midway through a pile of work using the javax.script package so this has really screwed me over. Looks like I'll be firing up Parallels.

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No-humping 20mph limit for London

Mike Bremford
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Average speed?

Look, the average speed is below 30 because we send half our time sitting at lights. So you move at 30, then stop for a bit, average speed 18mph. Reducing this to 20 is going to have a big impact, believe me - not for the muppets that commute to work every day (sweet jesus, what are you thinking), but at any other time of day. It's going to increase emissions, because cars aren't as efficient at that speed, it's going to increase congestion, because cars won't be moving down empty stretches of road at speed. Disaster.

There are plenty of London streets where it's safe to do 40 out of hours, but this system will be rigid regardless of time of day. I'm on a motorbike most of the time and what I really, really want to see is a) more box junction cameras and most importantly, more red-light cameras!

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Tor at heart of embassy passwords leak

Mike Bremford
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No, Tor is at fault.

Hang on a minute. Onion routing involves packets that would normally be routed straight to destination (via your ISP and its upstream networks) being sent on to other nodes for retransmission, correct?

The fact Onion routing was used is the only way this "researcher" (that leaves a bad taste) could get access to those packets in the first place - with regular routing he'd need to have access to the embassy's ISP's network, or their upstream networks, to sniff those packets.

Yes of course end-to-end encryption would have fixed this, but without it Onion routing actually exacerbates the risk of packet sniffing.

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RIAA gets some class

Mike Bremford
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TV License

Am I the only one who doesn't mind paying it?

Take a close look at the state of TV outside the UK and consider whether £120 a year for some pretty decent shows (Life on Mars, anyone?) with no adverts is a price worth paying. And the World Service, what a service. Go Auntie.

Although it would save everyone a lot of hassle if they just took it out of the tax budget.

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Tesla electric supercar may be delayed

Mike Bremford
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Re: Yeah I'm going green... Gonna buy another car.

Popular myth, but it's not true. Assuming 120,000 miles driven over the lifetime, manufacturing uses about 9% of the total energy required.

See http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=433981

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The great Passenger Name Record sell out

Mike Bremford
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Accessing your own PNR

Wendy, you say you were rebuffed by US Airlines when you tried to get access to your PNR. Did you try to push this any further? I would have thought under the Data Protection Act it's pretty clear that you should be given access to it. The possible exemptions are on grounds of National Security, prevention/detection of crime, taxation assessment, educational records and a few others, and I don't think any would apply here.

Be interesting to send them a £10 cheque and a Subject Access Request letter and see what you get back. There's a template here: http://www.ico.gov.uk/upload/documents/library/data_protection/practical_application/subject_access_-_guide_for_data_subjects.pdf

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PDF spam tsunami hits email inboxes

Mike Bremford
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Why not buy?

I monitored these for a while a few months ago when they were still using GIF images, keeping all the stock spam and then going back after a few months to see how I'd have done if I bought.

The answer was usually poorly - usually (although not always) there was very little change in price, even when there was a small spike in volume traded. I'd say forget it.

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Flash: Public Wi-Fi even more insecure than previously thought

Mike Bremford
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IP address won't help, but there is a solution.

Not really. For one, if you're logging in from a public wi-fi AP then presumably that's not your regular IP address, in which you'd have to log in again too - negating the whole point of a permanent session cookie.

Secondly, as your address would be NAT'ed to the address of the AP, anyone else on the same network would have the same public IP.

There is a solution, however, and that's to include a nonce with each cookie (a random number, not a paedophile). The server reads the nonce, confirms it was the last one it sent for that account, then creates a new nonce based on the previous one and returns it as a new cookie with each page request. This prevents replay attacks like this one.

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Mobile-mast danger is all in your head

Mike Bremford
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Re: Who Funded this?

Funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme - http://www.mthr.org.uk. Not the Telcos.

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Sun's activity not to blame for climate change

Mike Bremford
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look outside the window?

> not that warm, is it, this summer?

> Models and simulations can interpolate, never extrapolate

And that, Nikos the scientist, is your argument? What was your major? I hope to god it wasn't nuclear fission or we're f*cked. Couple of observations:

1. You can't infer global conditions from local events. This is Common Sense 101, a prerequisite for Science 101.

2. Models can be used for extrapolation. Ever seen a predicted population curve? How accurate the extrapolation is depends on the accuracy of the model and data, yes, and if that's what you're attempting to argue then I agree. But "never" is a big word to use, and you bandy it about at your peril.

If you really want to get into this I'd suggest www.realclimate.org, which boasts "climate science by climate scientists". Or you can keep waving your arms about, up to you.

Dr Mike

(doctorate in theology bought on the 'net for a tenner, which makes me as qualified as Dr Gillian McKeith and overqualified for this debate)

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National Archives and MS strike preservation deal

Mike Bremford
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PDF/A

There's a subset of PDF designed for just this purpose. PDF/A (for PDF Archive) is an ISO standard (19005) based on a publically available spec, and has various long-term oriented features like requiring all fonts to be embedded with their copyright information, color profiles to be embedded or otherwise well known and so on. We develop software that supports it and we're slowly seeing more interest in that aspect, particularly from government bodies, so I'd say it's here to stay.

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