1614 posts • joined Thursday 12th July 2007 09:21 GMT
Re: sounding stupid
The meaning of a word is whatever meaning is given to it.
Here at The Register "boffin" means a top scientist / engineer worthy of utmost respect. That's the way it is used by whoever writes it, that's the way it s taken by 99% of it's very loyal readers. If you choose to assign a different meaning to it, that's your problem.
After all, if I say "newkid is a cool guy" and you take "cool" or "guy" to be an insulting word, that is coming from your interpretation not my usage.
So cool your jets, guy, relax, have a beer and welcome to the El Reg party, where people (usually*) do not take themselves too seriously.
* unless the topic is climate change in which case hang on to your hat
"Spain, the current World Champions, were way behind in 13th position with only 4,500 searches. However, it's anticipated that Spanish fans will intensify their interest... "
or, alternatively, Spain's economy is tanked and very few Spaniards can afford to go
Re: Fearmongering from the Masters
"So that basically makes any currency which doesn't consist of solid hunks of metal (or any given thing) a form of theft"
That is essentially true when the printing presses go out of control. If everyone in a country of population 1000 has $1000, and then the government prints $1million willy-nilly (doubling the monetary base without growing the economy), the value of everyone's money goes down by half. So effectively the government has stolen $500 from each of the 1000 people and now has $500k in 'old' value.
Of course in reality it's a bit more complex than that and the margins are tiny (ideally non-existant in a healthy economy if money supply only grows as fast as the economy), but it's still a form of theft when it does happen.
Re: Fearmongering from the Masters
"Who can guarantee that the market will not be flooded by counterfeit bitcoins?"
For that matter, who can guarantee that the market will not be flooded by (national currency) notes*? Ah, I forgot, actually it's guaranteed that the central bank controlling any fiat currency WILL flood the market with currency if it's convenient for the government to do so.
*They don't have to be fake, even real ones drive up inflation and dilute the value of the existing currency.
Re: Mendel , being a statistician....
reminds me of....
a king asked 3 of his wise advisers what the answer to 2 + 2 was
the mathematician said "It is certainly 4"
the scientist said "all my experiments have shown it to be 4"
the statistician told him "you tell me what answer you want and I'll find a way to come up with it"
Re: Property rights in space
Potsherd's right. Political theorists talk about how they think things should work and why (or retrofit a contrived why into a predetermined what) but in any case its all theory. Governments (even the more modern / progressive / whatever) can and do take people's stuff all the time, and use force if necessary.
In the US racketeering and drug-related charges are frequently used for asset seizures especially in states where local law enforcement gets to keep all or part of the spoils. Turns out you were innocent? Sorry, money's gone. You think it's not possible to just round up people into camps nazi-style in the US? Ask the Japanese-ancestry US citizens who were rounded up in WW2 or ask Mr Jose Padilla what he thinks of due process rights.
The 'right' to property means you have legal recourse to ask the government to use force on your behalf to protect your stuff. But when its the government (or someone who can convince the government to step aside) doing the taking, it all boils down to might is right.
Re: No property rights
"You've worked out how to get helium 3 from the lunar regolith? Excellent: but with no private property then anyone else able to get to the Moon can do exactly the same."
Actually, since the moon is fairly big, no one company would ever conceivably be given property rights over more than a tiny fraction of it. So even WITH very strong property rights, "anyone else able to get to the Moon can do exactly the same", just on a different patch of moon.
Re: The Wild-West days are here again
" if a lunar space elevator is ever built. NASA estimated the cost at around $10B (with today's materials and launch costs) "
erm... with today's materials a LEO space elevator is impossible let alone a lunar one, so that $10B pricetag is someone's made-up bollocks
Re: The Wild-West days are here again
"being at the top of the gravity well trumps being at the top of the food chain. And throwing rocks can be terribly effective."
Robert Heinlein got that in about 10 years earlier than Niven in "The moon is a harsh mistress". But trivia aside, spot on about the gist of the argument. Of course "self-sufficient" is a huge (huge, huge, huge, huge) ask anywhere in space, but it's achievable (probably not this century, maybe in the 2 after that, almost certainly after that as long as humanity hasn't consumed all planetary resources like greedy little locusts)
*Yes I know technically it's the other way around, humans adapted to Earth environment
Re: Went out with a girl called Stanene
Nah, the Ozzie doll woulda been called Sheila
Yes but is it real multitasking? Or "multithreading"?
I'm pretty good at keeping up with a few things "at a time" but it's not really "at a time", I sort of stop one, focus on another and switch between them, which is more like the multi-threading on a single processor than true multitasking as with a multi-processor.
Leonardo da Vinci for example was famous for being a true multitasker, it is said he could be writing something with his left hand and doodling away at something else with his right, that is TRUE multitasking.
So I'm curious to know which type of 'multitasking' the researchers are referring to here.
Drones for delivery
Putting aside for a moment the (very entertaining) notion of how you would go about plucking airborne drones from the sky, and back for a moment to the possibility of delivery drones themselves...
I am 99.999% sure that we will never see airborne delivery drones from the likes of Amazon. Why? Because it will be a lot more cheaper and reliable to have ground-based drones aka self-driving delivery vans. The technology is pretty much in place already thanks to Google, Nissan, Bosch etc, the mapping is in place and improving steadily, in fact the only thing that is missing from that particular puzzle is a 'localized' drone* that can get the correct package from the back of the van to your doorstep.
So really what is needed is standardized mailboxes (standard dimensions and different-sized standard openings) with machine-readable labels that can be locked by the owner, and easily accessible from the road. That covers a fair chunk of US suburbia.
Re: Domino's pizza deliveries
That would require an innovative way of not only destroying the drone, but also recovering the payload....
Re: Shurely shome mishtake
@codejunky - In all of the western world, in the last 30-odd years, median pay is stuck while average skyrocketed. Richest people are getting richer, poorer and middle class are barely moving. More populist recent policies have been more 'left-wing' redistributionist, but I think this is happening as a reaction to getting a smaller slice of the pie, rather than the politics / government being more left-leaning.
Unfortunately these 'left-wing' redistributionist policies are wrong. Taking more money from the rich to give more to the poor is stupid, because what is broken is the 'level playing field'. The playing field is heavily tilted in favour of the rich, so taking money from the rich to give to the poor is like rolling a boulder uphill - futile and unending task, as the money will quickly flow back to the rich. Screw redistribution, just level the playing field and things will sort themselves out*.
For instance, instead of taxing high incomes at 50%+**, just change tax law so that dividends, capital gains etc are all taxed at the same rate as ordinary income***.
*with the added benefit that less people are getting money for nothing
**which would mostly impact high-income professionals such as doctors, not truly rich people.
***Truly rich people don't get a paycheck, their income comes from capital gains and dividends, typically taxed at 10-15% which is less than what the typical wage-slave is taxed at.
Re: Shurely shome mishtake
It's "Legal" to structure business so that legal tax liability is disappeared away as if by magic. It's also "Legal" to spend vast sums on lobbying for tax laws to be passed in ways that allows business to be structured to avoid tax. It re quires quite some bare-faced cheek for such companies to tell governments "hey, you make the laws, we just obey them" when they know that many (enough) of the people making the laws are deep enough in their pockets that the companies need never worry about adverse changes in tax law.
In relation to that, I don't mind if successful* executives are well-paid.
*What really pisses me off is that executives running businesses into the ground are also well-paid and on top of that receive giant bonuses for leaving even when they've been rubbish. Just cap CXO pay at a couple of millions, and then have unlimited bonus options that are concretely tied to company performance over 1 to 5 years. If you're not only competent but a star, you'll still make gazillions. If you're just barely competent, a couple of million is still a LOT more than many other much more competent people ever make.
Re: To be fair cable cutters are cheap.
" the failure of Iran to produce a nuke is arguably more surprising than if they'd succeeeded"
A fair bit of analysis that I've seen (this is in the FT not some dodgy website with white-on-black text and flashing highlights) is that Iran don't WANT to produce a nuke at the moment, they want to develop the technology + availability of material so that should they decide to do so, they can do so very quickly. In the meantime they can honestly argue that they are developing only for peaceful purposes.
Incidentally I have less problem with Iran having working nukes together with strong trade and communications ties with the west, rather than being an isolated and embattled regime who could produce nukes with a year or two's serious work. If the EU has one lesson to teach it's this - profits always trump prophets.
Re: To be fair cable cutters are cheap.
AFAIK their "facility's " critical " machinery" was already air-gapped. They got the stuxnet infection off an infected USB
Re: Who the hell cares what any Iranian News Agency has to say?
"I rate their trustworthiness roughly similar to that of North Korea."
(edit - damn, beaten to it!))
Re: Message to mobile operators
It's not so much that Apple brand is too strong, more that in any negotiation of 1 party vs multi-party, the single party has the advantage of unity. They only require one operator to break ranks, and can offer the first operator to break ranks preferential terms, including exclusivity.
The operators can only win vs Apple if they are united among themselves, but it is a LOT better for each individual operator to risk some losses to make a stack of dough selling iPhones than to risk being frozen out of the market while a rival operator rakes in all the Apple sales (and the juicy multi-year contracts that go with them).
A bit like the unionised workplace really... no matter how strong a union is, in the long run the employer will always have the upper hand because it's one entity and the employees are only as strong as the weakest members / those willing to work for less.
Re: Ryan Air pricing..
Mobile phone contract pricing is even more scandalously difficult to "read" and compare than 'cheap' flights. More so now when instead of just call minutes / sms, with multiple options each for 'own network' / other mobile / fixed line / overseas fixed line / overseas mobile / roaming, there's also the same cornucopia of options for data.
I'm pretty sure most people trying to compare tariffs at some point throw their hands up in disgust and point to any tariff that seems reasonable. I'm also pretty sure that most people could get the same service they currently do on a cheaper contract... which is why operators subsidise the phones in the first place.
We subsidise your phone by £100, but only if you sign up to a contract where you're overpaying us by £10 a month for 2 years.
One local operator here was offering a plan where one could pay individually for call minutes, sms and data. I jumped on it, getting a data-only contract, knowing I could use skype/viber/what'sapp etc to replicate call and sms functions without needing to pay unneeded sums for them. Guess what, they must have found a bunch of people doing that because within a few months they stopped offering the option, and now its no longer possible to get ANY contract at all that doesn't include a huge bunch of call minutes and sms that I wouldn't use anyway. Wankers!
Re: Vattenfall has looked at this
Quote from the foreword of that Elforsk report:
" The report makes no assessment of scientific veracity"
Re: I can see how this works...
1.5MW rating, it's not mentioned every how often the technicians need to turn up. 1 month? 6 months? 1 year? Even going low-end, 1 month is around 9500 MWh. A high-capacity AA battery is rated at 3000mAh = 3Ah, @1.5V = 4.5Wh. Changing batteries every month you would need well over 2 billion AA batteries.
Wow, $1.5million is a steal for that. I'll take 2.
Erm.... I mean, they're going to have some VERY "fat" technicians :)
Re: But Profits come before security
That is exactly how Schiphol airport is (used to be?) set up. Individual metal detectors and scanners at every gate. "departures" just means you have a boarding pass meaning it's practically a public area and all the du-free, restaurants etc are there. Then you need to pass security at the gate to get on the airplane.
Of course this means many more scanners, metal detectors and staff, meaning more expense, which is another reason why most airports go for the less secure (and cheaper) one-security-check-for-everyone-before-duty-free approach
Re: A thought experiment
Smashing a bottle to produce an improvised weapon is very difficult*. Have you ever tried it? It's not like Hollywood bottles that you just tap on the edge of the nearest table, it requires serious grunt AND a seriously hard and unyielding surface to smash against.
Having said that, pretty much agree with the general gist of comments above - explosive / flammable materials are pretty easy to come by and there are many many places with masses of people and no protection. In the US doubly so since firearms are so easy to coe by, and surely tehy don't care about other citizens with conceal carry weapons, after all they ARE on a suicide mission, aren't they? If terrorists' only aim was killing people they would do it much more frequently. Since it isn't happening the logical conclusion is that real live terrorists are EXTREMELY scarce.
*Of course it's only hard if you're trying and as per Murphy, the bottle will only break if it falls accidentally and/or it's 'safely' packed in your luggage.
Re: Slightly off topic...
I believe they are treating outside glass with special coating at the cost of approx £1 million-ish
Re: business is booming
"The feds and the NSA would have to send a letter to each and every one seperately"
Actually, the feds and NSA would in theory* have to justify each of those in an individual court order. They couldn't ask for the encryption keys of company Lavabituserx because they were interested in a user whose mail provider was a completely different company LavabitSnowdenEd
*In practice I'm sure their pet lawyers would find a way to twist the law to their desired end results. After all, they found lawyers who wrote official legal opinions saying that waterboarding, sleep deprivation etc etc were not torture, and all those lawyers are not only still free and practicing, they're f***ing celebrities
Currency is NOT taxable. Income and wealth ARE taxable, in whatever currency or non-currency commodity. Doesn't matter if Bitcoin is recognised as a currency or not, it just needs to be recognised as a value store or commodity and it's taxable. A particular government can also insist that it's taxes are paid in its own currency even for bitcoin value.
For example in many countries, having a company car or other benefits are taxed on an assumed value, with the tax is paid in coin of the realm. Similairly US gov does not need to recognise bitcoin as a currency, they can still argue that it is a value store (like gold bars etc) and tax owners (in US dollars) on the presumed bitcoin value. Of course this all depends on tax law detail, but strictly speaking any government can already tax people on their bitcoin holdings/earnings (if they know about it of course)
And I think the "if they know about it" bit that is the nub of the matter. By classifying a bitcoin depository as a financial institution under law, the tax authorities can request information on depositors/account holders and their holdings/earnings.
It's not all bad though... if a bitcoin depositary is legally equivalent to a bank then it is covered by depositor insurance or equivalent, meaning that if the bitcoin depository goes titsup, the government (or government-mandated insurance) will repay depositors in full up to a given amount (that can be quite high eg €100,000 in the EU)
I think when you have the whole of spacetime to play with, LEO is as close to the surface of the planet as makes no difference.
Asterix, Obelix and the rest of the gauls used up a LOT of energy in biffing romans about, and their noses were very... ahem... gallic
CO2 and density
So is the increase in density solely down to different forestry management, or is more CO2 in the air leading to bigger and bushier trees sucking more CO2 out of the atmosphere?
Negative feedback, anyone?
Re: Wrong on so many levels
An interesting analogy here - by the 'fair use' criteria I could play the (legally-bought) DVD of the latest Hollywood movie on my TV, video it with a high-quality camera* and post an 'excerpt'-sized bit on Youtube. Equally legally, a thousand other users could do the same. And a thousand-and-1st user could create a playlist stitching all of those together.
I'm pretty sure that the MPAA would not consider that to be 'fair use', but according to the judgement above, the 'excerpting + posting' bit SHOULD definitely be legal. However my suspicion is that Youtube would obey any takedown notice in this regard. Or, in other words, I think this judgement in favour of Google is correct but I suspect such judgement was only awarded because Google is a giant company that can afford to pay gajillions to many clever lawyers, and would not have gone the same way had a small independent organisation been doing said scanning+excerpt-publishing
*I'm aware that I could also rip the DVD but AFAIK technically ripping the DVD in itself breaks the DMCA's "breaking technical protections" provisions, which filming the video playing does not.
Re: Saw a great demo
I loved the form factor of the old clamshell phones that gave you a huge (for the time) screen combined with a good keypad in a form that could properly place the speaker close to your ear and the microphone close to your mouth, and then still fold up small enough to fit your pocket.
Having the same on a smartphone would be a similair win - phablet-size screen foldable into a pocket-sized package. And in this case at least the thin-ness will have a practical purpose
Yes, I would think that losing life or limb and / or ending up stuck somewhere completely different is pain on a different order of magnitude to simply meeting a villain. One is danger (ie potential harm), the other is real actualised harm
Re: OMG Zombie keeps rising
"For the record, I am pro-nuclear, so people like you and I could work for the same thing. "
For the record, I support nuclear energy for the main reasons of energy independance / sustainability. Greenhouse emissions are a secondary concern to me, but it's also good to have support on nuclear from people for whom greenhouse emissions are a primary concern. From what I can understand in your posts our points of divergence are on whether human-made climate change is happening. On my part, I believe it is happening but it's not such a big deal as made out to be.
And energy supply trumps everything else. You're perfectly right that with enough energy, CO2 emissions are moot as we can capture them, but of course that energy needs to come from non-CO2 sources otherwise it becomes an exercise in chasing ones own tail.
Fusion is of course the holy grail, however I suspect that even in best case scenarios like the Lockheed skunkworks and 'shoelace antenna thingy' from another el reg article today, that full commercial availability is still many years away and cost could still be an issue, so better to build a few fission reactors now to tide us over the 20-50-odd years that always seem to be seperating us from fission
Re: You can buy fusion reactors...
"The trouble is that sustained fusion is extremely difficult to achieve* .... Humanity has briefly achieved artificial fusion reactions, but sadly only in H-bombs"
Thankfully, H-bombs are NOT sustained
Re: And for those of us...
Don't bother with the official translation, you can always enjoy yourself with a few simple words without needing to understand all that:
should cover pretty much everything you might need :)
Re: How on Earth did McCain choose Palin?
It's sad to see how McCain went from being a quite moderate republican to going further and further right just to nab the nomination. I'm also surprised at his tactics of moving further to the right once he got the nomination, since in effect all he had to do to gain the votes of the rabid right was point to his left and say "If you don't vote for me, that's who's getting elected". I'm sure he didn't need to point out himself that his opponent was brown and had 'Hussein' as a middle name, the right-wing talk shows did all this dirty work for him anyway.
What especially saddens me about McCain is how he switched positions to back the torture regime of Bush II, just to cover his party's back, when this is a guy who himself was tortured in Vietnam. He of all people knew that the point of torture wasn't to get information. The point of torture is torture.
Re: OMG Zombie keeps rising @ btrower
"Re: "97% of working scientists genuinely believe" in AGW
How can someone be both scientifically literate AND believe that?"
Erm, it's pretty basic chemistry and physics. Burning X tons of carbon-based fuel per year for Y years results in Z additional tons of CO2 in the atmosphere than otherwise would have been. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, this is known, well-understood and based on established tries-and-tested physics. I think that 100% of chemists and physicists would agree with the above, not 97%.
It's true that there are lots of more complicated underlying factors that make climate models such complex beasts but the bottom line is the earth is trapping more energy inside with extra added CO2 than without, and we put the extra added C02 in.
Now, whether all of this will lead to great catastrophe and if so what actions are necessary to prevent it... that's a whole other issue
Re: OMG Zombie keeps rising
" If 97% of working scientists genuinely believe that we need stuff like 'cap and trade' and subsidized windmills because our production of CO2 is bringing on the apocalypse, then 97% of scientists should be fired."
97% of scientists agree that climate change is happening and we're the cause. It's the economists* who dreamed up cap-n-trade. It's the politicians and greenies** who dreamed up subsidised windmills. As far as I can tell the real scientists*** have recently looked at the mess that economists, politicians and greenies have made and concluded that what we need to fix all this is a substantial investment in nuclear power.
*economics is NOT a science, economists are NOT scientists
** the hardcore irrational kind
*** Hansen et al
Re: Satellites not likely affected
"hence the concern over the effect on tech"
Oh no!! Magnetic compasses will no longer work!! Will anyone think of the children?
Re: I don't find this hard to believe
"being sysadmin in a large corporation, I guess many people *think* the sysadmin knows the passwords..."
But the NSA isn't just any large corporation, security is their one and only job. And screening notwithstanding, they should be working on the assumption that at least some of their staff are Chinese, Russian etc spies who got through one or more layer of security. That's why you have multiple layers / levels of security and Chinese walls.
How hard is it to make sure that all new hires / contractors know not to give their password to anyone?
NSA double-fail, they're not only illegally slurping data, they can't even protect it
Terminator power source
Beat human up
Point Ginourmous f***-off gun at human's head
(human pisses himself)
"I need your clothes, your boots..."
Re: James Thickalot @AC 11:59
Welcome back to normality Matt :)
What I am NOT doing is throwing stuff. I am simply suggesting alternative rules for a game that is not rigged (or less rigged at least), then maybe I would be interested in playing. And it seems to me that in agreeing to the 'none of the above', that you also support changing the rules of the game. The party I do support with my vote and my money is one that explicitly campaigns on changing the rules of the political game.
I have no interest in playing a game that I know to be rigged against me (same reason I don't buy lottery tickets). Doing hard work that I know will not lead to a desired outcome is stupid. So if you want to call making public suggestions instead of directly campaigning / standing for election "lazy", please yourself, but for me, better lazy than stupid anyway.
Problem with Tesla Li batteries isn't so much performance, I think they've got that covered (otherwise they wouldn't offer the guarantee that they do). The problem is volume - each car needs a LOT of batteries. If you're producing cars in the thousands it's OK, but when you start to ramp up into tens of thousands and targeting hundreds of thousands, that's a fcukload of Lithium. And you're competing for it with battery requirements for laptops, tablets, smartphones, more and more and larger and larger every day.
There possibly isn't physically enough readily-available (ie mineable at a decent price) Li in the world to replace more than 50% of the global vehicle fleet* at really expensive prices. At realistic prices (even if Tesla is at the high end of the price range), the supply is necessarily constrained.
*That's an educated guess based on this: http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2010/ph240/eason2/ . I know el Reg has a resident metals expert who maybe can comment.
Re: Oh, you youngsters
@Matt Smith - You're not fooling us with the "Matthew".
Re: @AC 11:59
"Actually the democracy part means that you can stand as a third option. No doubt your ideas will be perfect and everyone will vote for you"
The "theory of democracy" part means that you, me and anyone else can stand as a third option.
The "practice of democracy" part means that you, me and anyone else can only get elected as a third option if we are multi-millionaires willing to bankroll our own campaign, or find some multi-millionaires willing to support our campaign*. Perfect ideas don't matter if those ideas can't be heard, and the ideas can't be heard above everyone else's shouting. Not to mention that the current incumbents will lie through their teeth about their own proposals and paint us as monsters. Not to mention that why should people believe us if all the politicians they've ever known were liars?
"Then you have to implement them, and that's when reality will bite you."
In the miracle case of not only getting elected but getting enough clout and following to propose laws and have backing for them, then we have to implement them and all the special interests will come out of the woodwork pleading exceptions. More likely than not these will form a pretty good subset with the people who have financed you and are now pleading special treatment.
Thanks but no thanks, I'd much rather have the "none of the above" option, combined with a framework that allows citizens to propose / amend their own laws through referendum (as in Switzerland for example)
*Said financiers of course will more likely than not dictate or at least influence policy direction or withdraw future funding.
- It's true, the START MENU is coming BACK to Windows 8, hiss sources
- How UK air traffic control system was caught asleep on the job
- Pic NASA Mars tank Curiosity rolls on old WET PATCH, sighs, sniffs for life signs
- Google embiggens its fat vid pipe Chromecast with TEN new supported apps
- Microsoft: Don't listen to 4chan ... especially the bit about bricking Xbox Ones